Question 1.    Can you tell us a little about your city in terms of location in China, population, standard of living, industries, etc?

Answer:  Weihai is in Shandong province of China and is located on the east end of Shandong Peninsula. Being on the same latitude as San Francisco in the United States, Weihai is surrounded by sea on three sides, facing Liaoning Penisula to the north and the Korean Peninsula and the Japan Islands to the east. It is the “doorway” to Beijing and Tianjin, thus bearing the name of “coastal front of China”

Weihai has a population of 2.5 million and a total area of 5400 square kilometers. As one of the most developed areas in north China, Weihai achieved a GDP of $8 billion  and GDP per capita of  $3,070 in 2001, which was the highest in Shandong Province and the same as that of Beijing.

There are four major industries in Weihai:
1. Marine aquaculture and fishery:  Weihai is China’s largest base for marine aquaculture and fishery.  This accounts for 25% of the City’s GDP.

2. Industrial and agricultural manufacturing:  There are more than 10,000 small and medium sized companies that are engaged in industrial and agricultural manufacturing. Weihai is the largest manufacturing base for products such as tires, auto crankshafts, carpets, fishing tackle and carpenter machinery. In addition, Weihai is well known for manufacturing high-speed fax, printing machines, fiber-optical cable, polymer medical appliances, airport equipment, leather shoes, agricultural vehicles and fruit processing.

3. Tourism:  Wehai is known throughout China as one of China’s premier tourist cities.   Weihai has a lot of scenic spots and historical sites and received about 8 million tourists in 2002.  It is extremely popular for tourism during summer time and boasts huge potential for tourism development.

4. Imports and exports:  Weihai is one of the earliest trade ports in northern China. It has linking shipping service with major ports in northern China such as Tianjin, Qingdao and Dalian Ports. Additionally, Weihai has cargo and passenger ship service internationally to South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, etc.
Question 2.    How does your city compare to other Chinese cities in terms of economic development, unemployment, educational qualification of the workforce, average wages, GDP per capita and other basic measures of economic success?

Answer:  Being one of the 50 cities that have the strongest economy in China, Weihai’s GDP and local government tax revenues have been growing at an average rate of 18.2% and 23.3% respectively in the past 15 years.

Since Weihai does not have a lot of state-owned companies, it has a very small number of people who are unemployed. In year 2002, the total unemployment rate is 1.7% as compared with the average unemployment rate of 3.9% across China.

Thanks to the city’s strong educational tradition, Weihai’s high school students have  achieved the highest scores in national college entrance exams consecutively in Shandong province for the past 9 years. In Weihai, there are Harbin Polytechnic University (Weihai), Shandong University Weihai Campus, One Higher Vocational Institute and Higher Technical College.  There are also 20 foreign language schools and many other educational training centers.  Each year, there are over ten thousand university or college graduates and ten thousand graduates from vocational schools.  Virtually all employees have graduated from High School or higher.  As a result, Weihai boasts a high quality work force and its productivity has ranked first place in Shandong province consecutively for the past 14 years.

Finally I would like to note that Weihai has the highest income of urban residents and farmers in Shandong province in 2001.  This prosperity adds to the city and has helped to reinforce the city’s livability.

Question 3.    What are the major industries in your city and which sectors of business do you feel that Weihai companies both have demonstrated their ability to compete and their cost advantages vis-à-vis other areas in China?  Also which new sectors do you for see generating the most growth in the years ahead?

Answer:   Marine aquaculture and fisheries, auto parts industry, tourism and biotech production are currently are our key industries.  We see bio-tech and the high-tech industries as being further future engines of growth.

Question 4.    If you were to give five reasons for a company to consider establishing a factory or a business office in your city, what would those reasons be?

1)  Livability, clean and beautiful environment, golfing (Weihai has four of these) and other recreational sports near beaches.
2)  Close to the developed economies and markets such as Japan and South Korea in North Asia
3)  International ports, convenient marine transportation and convenient air access via two neighboring airports

4)  Two well-known Chinese universities have two huge campuses near beaches, providing talents and trained professionals,
5)  Well trained leaders at the municipal government. The city has several leaders who have studied or worked in North America.

Question 5.    Weihai is located in Shandong province and I know that Shandong is a leader in both agriculture and the fishing industry in addition to having a large and well developed manufacturing base, are both the fishing and agriculture industries also important to Weihai and has Weihai used its connections through its distribution system for both industries to help serve as an export gateway to import overseas food and other items to China?

Weihai has imported a lot of production equipment from the United States and Europe and is planning to distribute salmon, tuna and other seafood to Beijing and Shanghai via its vast sales network across the country.

Question 6.    I understand that your city has developed or is in the advanced planning stages of developing several incubators to help promote new industries in Weihai.  Could you tell us about these incubators and your plans for new innovative means of growing new companies?

Answer:   We have two incubators in Weihai right now. One is run and sponsored by the government, the other is run by a private company. Both will provide free offices for three years if the high-tech project meets the necessary qualifications. So far we have about 50 start-up companies in the incubators. With the completion of another 15000 square meters of space, we are poised to accept more start-up companies this year.  An example of this is San Diego based Genway, a biotech company, that is going to move its antibody production center to the incubator in the next three months. We expect more biotech companies will move a portion of their production function to Weihai when our life science park is established here shortly.

Question 7.    Your city has been named for several years as one of the 500 most livable cities in the world by the United Nations.  Because of the quick pace of industrialization in China, “livable” is not a term often used to describe China’s major cities. What are the factors that make your city so suitable as a place to live and work?

city map

Answer:   There are four factors.  They are:
Cleaniness: Weihai has three cities under its juridiction, all of them have received awards by the central government naming them as being  “China’s Exemplary Clean Cities”.

Nice weather: Weihai has average temperature of 12 centigrade, which means it is not hot in the summer and not cold in winter. Most beach cities have high humidity, Weihai is the only city along the coast of China that is comfortable and dry.

Green land: Weihai maintains strict protection of its green belt of pine trees along the beach. It has invested huge sums of money and built many parks along the beaches and throughout the city to give the public access to green open spaces.

Key City Services: Fast growing economy, low unemployment, low crime rate, friendly neighborhoods, reasonable house prices.
Question 8.  Having visited your city, I know that in many ways you are one of China’s best kept secrets in terms of both your environment and your economic viability.  What is your city’s plan as to how to continue your economic development while still protecting your pleasant environment?

Answer:   Promote venture capital investments, establish venture capital funds with leading venture capital companies in China, provide funding for high-tech projects from North America and Europe.

Question 9.    How does the city go about competing with the bigger Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou to attract investment and are their any upcoming plans for investment conferences, trade fairs or other venues that you could mention if readers were interested in learning more about your city and the potential for business?

Answer:   We have followed policies that do the following:
•    Promote the unique non polluting industries that will keep Weihai growing;
•    Promote the concept of livability, create clusters of low polluting industry and attract high tech companies to establish offices, production centers and testing centers in Weihai.
•    Build a convention center and develop international conferences and trade shows and continue to promote tourism.
We also are planning to host a major trade and investment conference in May for companies interested in further exploring locating in Weihai. 

Question 10.   If a company wanted to find out more about starting a business or building a factory in your city, what would be the best route for him or her to better research the potential?  Also, saying a company wanted to attend your upcoming investment conference how could he or she learn more now about Weihai to help better prepare them for their visit and for meetings with you and your city team?

Answer:   We have aligned with Runckel & Associate to promote trade and investment between Oregon and Shandong Province. You can visit the websites of both Weihai,, and Runckel & Associates,,  to find out more about Weihai or call Runckel & Associates since they are on your same time zone and can quickly respond with information and guidance.

To save your valuable time and make your visit to China and to Weihai as valuable as possible, we want to get you fully prepared before you travel to Weihai. We therefore hope to exchange information with you on many issues related to your plans for trade and investment and to give you wide ranging knowledge on potential prices of land, labor, rental, utilities and many other issues that will help you to better hone your business plan.  We fully subscribe to the belief that the secret to success in business is good research and planning and we stand ready to assist in everyway possible to make your visit to Weihai a success.

About the Interviewer:  

Christopher W. Runckel, a former senior US diplomat who served in many counties in Asia, is a graduate of the University of Oregon and Lewis and Clark Law School. He served as Deputy General Counsel of President Gerald Ford’s Presidential Clemency Board. Mr. Runckel is the principal and founder of Runckel & Associates, a Portland, Oregon based consulting company that assists businesses expand business opportunities in Asia. (

Until April of 1999, Mr. Runckel was Minister-Counselor of the US Embassy in Beijing, China. Mr. Runckel lived and worked in Thailand for over six years. He was the first permanently assigned U.S. diplomat to return to Vietnam after the Vietnam War. In 1997, he was awarded the U.S. Department of States highest award for service, the Distinguished Honor Award, for his contribution to improving U.S.-Vietnam relations. Mr. Runckel is one of only two non-Ambassadors to receive this award in the 200-year history of the U.S. diplomatic service.

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