An aerial view of Qingdao on May 2 (XINHUA)
'We are proud that our hometown has the opportunity to host the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit 2018. My neighbors and I planted flowers to beautify our community to welcome this important event," 75-year-old Yang Guizhi said on May 7 at a community activity center in Qingdao, a city in east China's Shandong Province.
Qingdao, a coastal city and perennially popular tourist destination, will hold the summit this June as the event returns to its country of origin for the first time since the leaders of the constituent countries met in Beijing five years ago. This is also the second major international event to be held in Qingdao after the Olympic sailing events took place there in 2008.
Both the Qingdao local government and people, as Yang noted, have attached great importance to the upcoming summit and gone to considerable effort to prepare for it.
Ready and set
Zhang Jiangting, Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Qingdao Municipal Committee, said at a press conference on May 7 that hosting the SCO Summit is a good opportunity for Qingdao to present itself to the world and could also provide fresh impetus to its tourism, exhibition and trade. Since last year, the Qingdao Government has pushed forward preparation work in an orderly and effective manner.
Qingdao has taken this opportunity to upgrade the city's level of urban construction and management, promote infrastructure and create a better living environment for local people. For example, Qingdao has initiated a three-year plan aimed at building a clean, orderly and beautiful city, including concrete measures such as increasing lighting facilities and green areas, and upgrading the transportation system.
The Qingdao Government has also adhered to the principles of thrift and frugality during the preparations. According to Zhang, the city will take advantage of existing venues rather than build new stadiums. And existing stadiums have been transformed with their future use in mind. For example, the decoration of the main venue is detachable so as to increase the flexibility of the space, and after the summit it will be run by private enterprises as a conference center.
The government will not allocate funds to buy new cars, with all vehicles used at the event rented or sponsored by companies. In the same vein, no large amount of money will be spent on inviting celebrities to perform during the event.
Meanwhile, Qingdao has also endeavored to integrate China's traditional culture with the city's own unique characteristics in the design of venues and banquet halls. The main venue is at the Qingdao International Sailing Centre, an iconic landmark in the city.
Qingdao has put a lot of effort into preparing for this major international summit, which is likely to yield huge gains for its own development in turn. Cui Dezhi, Director of the Qingdao Tourism Development Commission, said at the press conference that the summit will help increase the popularity of Qingdao as a world-class tourism destination.
All the guests at the meeting will be envoys for Qingdao from around the world. While the summit will last only three days, its influence will be comprehensive to the city, Cui noted.
According to Zhang, the preparatory work is almost finished and Qingdao is now ready for the summit.
A train from China to Central Asia departs from Qingdao, a coastal city in Shandong Province, on May 7, due to arrive in Kazakhstan 10 days later (ZHENG LIANG)
Qingdao enjoys a close economic and trade relationship with other SCO member countries. In 2017, the trade volume between the city and other SCO member countries was 39.02 billion yuan ($6.13 billion), accounting for 26 percent of the total trade volume between Shandong and other SCO member states.
As of May 7, more than 3,000 train journeys had been made between China and Central Asia, bringing manufactured products from China, Japan and South Korea, and agricultural products from the U.S. and Southeast Asia to Kazakhstan for distribution to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries. The process takes only 10 days from start to finish, saving 30 days compared with transportation by sea, according to Wang Jun, Director of the logistic park management committee.
Qingdao will also play a significant role in cultural communication among SCO member states. Qingdao was named by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for as a City of Film in 2017. Accordingly, the First SCO Film Festival will be held there on June 13-17. Eight member states and four observer states will attend the ceremony to screen their films.
The city has produced a string of successful movie stars such as Fan Bingbing, Huang Bo and Ni Ping. More importantly, it has also witnessed the rapid development of its film and television industry. The Qingdao Movie Metropolis, located at Lingshan Bay in western Qingdao, is the largest film production complex in the world and boasts a first-class setup. With an investment of 50 billion yuan ($7.9 billion) from Dalian Wanda Group, it spans 166 hectares with film production studios and other supporting facilities, including theme parks, malls, theaters, international exhibition halls, five star-hotels, a bar street and hospitals.
Yue Meilin, Deputy Director of the Lingshan Bay Film and Television Bureau, said that the facility would support the film festival. In turn, the festival could also promote Qingdao as the city of film.
During the festival, films from Russia, Afghanistan and other attending countries which might otherwise not be screened in China's cinemas will be on show in certain cinemas in Qingdao.
Yue noted that various other activities would be held during the festival, which will contribute to the film industry and also the attendees' understanding of each other's culture.
Copyedited by Laurence Coulton
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