Qingdao is a famous tourist city and an important military port, now the seat of the PLA Headquarters of the North Sea Fleet
Shandong, a province of 94 million people (2008), has become one of the most affluent provinces in China. Shandong, developing as an economic centre with comprehensive transport infrastructure due to its geographic significance in intersecting north-south and east-west trading routes. Today Shandong has trade and economic ties with over 200 countries and regions. More than 130 of the Fortune 500 companies have their business operations in Shandong, including Shell, Samsung, Unilever, Mitsubishi, Maersk Logistics and Itochu.
Shandong’s agricultural export volume accounts for a quarter of the nation’s total, while the province’s extensive petroleum and oil deposit includes the Shengli Oilfield, the second-largest oilfield of China. With Australia as one of Shandong’s top trading partners, Tsingtao Beer and home appliance companies Haier and Hisense have all expanded their markets to Australia. In September 2009, Shandong business and trade officials attended a two-way briefing hosted by Australia China Business Council to explore cooperation in the light industrial and automotive, food processing, building and construction, tourism and mining sectors.
In the first half year of 2010, Shandong’s trade volume with Australia jumped to A$695m, demonstrating a 70 per cent year-on-year increase. The present partnership mainly focuses on mining, coal, machinery and equipment, electrical appliances, textile products, garments, steel products and containers, but industries such as urban planning, technological services, beverage and marine economy show great potential. In 2009, Shandong’s marine economy had a gross output of $83.2 billion. Some Australian companies have been actively involved in the well-developed regional markets of Jinan, Qingdao and Penglai.
In Jinan and Qingdao, where service outsourcing is developing vigorously, three Australian companies have found footholds: ASPECT Studios, Gruden and Argyle. In Feb 2010, ASPECT Studios has won a design contract for the 350-metre high Pulimen Center, which will be the site of the tallest building in Jinan after completion, comprising high quality offices, retail outlets and a new park. The digital agency Gruden has also had success since establishing its Qingdao office in 2008 and designing and winning high recognition for the English website of Qingdao Software Park, a leading technology hub in North China. Argyle Hotels (Qingdao), with investment in excess of US$148m, has over $720m assets under management currently. In November 2010, Argyle was named the Outstanding Business Hotel in China.
Australian dairy industry has also had success, with Murray Goulburn’s plant in Qingdao developing exceptional manufacturing facilities for infant nutrition. Its high-quality products and active involvement in corporate social responsibility are greatly appreciated by both the Chinese and Australian governments, with the company donating A$3.1m to found the MG Charity Fund to help infants in need in May 2009. Murray Goulburn’s annual sales in China are A$46.2m, with hopes to double this figure in 2011.
Shandong’s wine and wineries lead nation, producing almost half the national output. Shandong province plans to facilitate the development of four top brands and one wine industrial cluster to achieve 65 per cent of the total provincial wine output by 2012. The Australian government has taken initiatives to explore cooperative possibilities for the Australian wine industry.