Shining Pearl of the Northeast Coast

Hong Kong is said to be the “Pearl of the East”, and Liaons from Dalian are proud their hometown is called the “Shining Pearl of the Northeast”. Dalian was the first city in Northern China to be opened for foreign business in 1984, one of 14 coastal cities in China. Today, Dalian is a key international port city with a vibrant economy and a diversified culture.

Geographical Location

Facing the Yellow Sea to the east and the Bohai Sea to the west, Dalian is located at the southern tip of the Liaodong Peninsula. There are six administrative districts, three county-level cities and one county. The area of Dalian prefecture is 13,238 square kilometers, with an area of the city proper of 2,415 square kilometers. In 2009, Dalian had 5.85 million inhabitants and listed as the 14th largest city of China by population.

Like the spring city San Francisco, Dalian is surrounded by water on three sides. The city is located in a warm temperature zone with pleasant average temperatures: a monthly high of 27.3°C in summer and a low of -7.7°C in winter. The city has sunny days up to 60 percent of the year and a fairly low annual precipitation of 590 to 800 mm.

Facing Japan and Korea to the east and located in the Northeast Asia Economic Zone and the Bohai Rim Economic Circle, Dalian serves as a significant gateway linking northern China with other countries and regions. It is a hub of seaport logistics, finance and trade, industrial information services as well as commerce and tourism.

Public transportation in Dalian is convenient. Besides bus and taxi, Dalian is the only city in China that still keeps running a modernized traditional tram, which has a history of more than 100 years.

Economic Development

The economy developed quickly over the past decade. In 2009, the total GDP of 434.95 billion RMB (about 62.14 billion USD) was composed of a secondary sector share of 48.9 percent, a tertiary sector of 43.9 percent, and a primary sector of 7.2 percent.

The private economy and the foreign-invested economy are growing faster than any other in Dalian. Accordingly, employment grows mainly in these two sectors, and they both rank highest in the province. Of the 3.83 million Liaons employed in Dalian, 34.7 percent were working in the private economy, while the provincial average stands at 14.8 percent. Also, the average salary in Dalian was higher than anywhere else in Liaoning, 38,766 RMB (about 5,538 USD). In 2009, most people were employed in manufacturing (414,044) and the least in mining (2,300). The disposable income of urban citizens per capita was 19,014 RMB (about 2,716 USD). Quick economic growth in Dalian is not only due to the increase in industry and service sectors, agriculture also plays its role. Output of fruits and aquatic products both rank the highest in Liaoning.

Industrial Pattern

Like the composition of economic development in northeast China, Dalian’s mission of development has two sides. First, Dalian holds the position as one of the leading cities in overall economy, and has a critical mass of large and medium-sized enterprises. Secondly, Dalian is the entry gate for the opening up of the entire northeast due to its location, environment, and industrial history.

Dalian will be built into an international shipping and logistics center, will be the base for petrochemical industry, shipbuilding, high-tech equipment manufacturing, and for electronic information and software development.

Leading companies in these industries have been in Dalian for some time, or started setting up operations. In shipbuilding, Dalian Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. and Dalian New Ship Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. are the two biggest shipbuilders in China. As for petrochemical industry, Dalian Petro and West Pacific Petro are in the lead, as are Dalian Steel and Dalian Machine Tool Group Corporation in equipment manufacturing. Dalian is strongly focusing on its development of information technology and software industry with the entering of Intel, IBM, and other international IT companies.

Dalian Port is the most important container port in northeast China, with 196 berths and a terminal length of 33.3 kilometers in 2009. There are 85 international container shipping lines with more than 300 ships per month. About 90 percent of the container trade in northeast China is transferred in Dalian.

Tourism also contributes significantly to economy growth in Dalian. Every year from May to September, Dalian is crowded with tourists from all parts of China, and even all over the world. In 2009, Dalian received 34.12 million Chinese and 1.05 million foreign tourists, which was 14.1 percent and 35.8 percent of the total number of tourists to Liaoning.

The financial sector also develops quickly in Dalian. The city has 15 foreign banks, the highest number of foreign banks in north China, and 7 foreign insurance companies. They either set up branches here or opened representative offices. Financial institutions in Dalian have connected their settlements networks to more than 150 countries, which makes Dalian the biggest regional international settlements center. Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) is one of the three most active futures exchanges in China and even the world’s most active in plastic futures and second in soybean futures.

An emerging industry in Dalian is the exhibition industry. Since the opening up of Xinghai International Exhibition Center in 1996, more than 300 exhibitions have been held, including China Dalian Import and Export Fair, Dalian International Garment Fair, and exhibitions and fairs in automobile, home appliance, furniture, hardware, fisheries, electronic and communication products. The Summer Forum of the Davos World Economy has been held twice in Dalian and the organizers now set up a coordination office here.

Foreign Trade and Investment

Dalian is among the top cities in China in terms of foreign investment volume. The city attracted the highest foreign direct investment (FDI), one third of the total in Northeast China. In 2009, the amount of FDI was 6.00 billion USD. More than 13,000 foreign invested companies are listed in Dalian, including 90 of the Global Fortune 500. Some major foreign companies in Dalian include General Electric, Goodyear, Pfizer, Dell, Accenture, Hewlett Packard, IBM, NEC, Wal-Mart, LG, Hyundai, Posco, Carrefour, Thyssen Krupp Co, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson. Dalian also profits from its historic connections with Japan. Mitsubishi, who ran the Dalian shipyard many decades ago, started co-operating with Dalian in shipbuilding again in the 1980s. Canon, Toshiba, Mabuchi, Sanyo, Panasonic, Hitachi have all established production sites in the city.

Dalian Foreign Direct Investment Projects
(in million dollars)
Investment volume Registered capital Contracted FDI Import volume
West Pacific Petrochemical Co., Ltd. 10,130 2,580 1,100 28,900
Dalian Container Terminal Co., Ltd. (DCT) 4,800 1,600 1,600
Volkswagen Automatic Transmission Co. Ltd. 3,880 1,300 78
Intel Dalian Fab 68 Factory 2,500 500 500
Canon Dalian Business Machines Co., Ltd. 2,400 81 81 1,000
COSCO (Dalian) Shipyard Co., Ltd. 2,200 72 59 1,000
Panasonic Automotive Systems Co., Ltd. 2,14 2,400 1,070 2,040

Due to its geographical advantage and economic strength, Dalian has the biggest foreign trade volume in Liaoning province. The import and export volume of Dalian kept increasing over the past decades. In 2009, the import volume of Dalian was 20.06 billion USD, 68 percent of total Liaoning imports. The export volume of 21.77 billion USD was 65 percent of the provincial total.

Dalian maintains twinning relations, “Sister Cities”, with 18 cities in 14 countries:

  • Kitakyushu, Maizuru, and Imari (Japan)
  • Oakland, Houston (US)
  • Bremen, Rostock (Germany)
  • Le Havre (France)
  • Glasgow (UK)
  • Vancouver (Canada)
  • Incheon (South Korea)
  • Vladivostok (Russia)
  • Pointe-Noire (Congo)
  • Adelaide (Australia)
  • Ohrid (Macedonia)
  • Genoa (Italy)
  • Cienfuegos (Cuba)
  • Sevastopol (Ukraine).

International Events and Honors

Festivals and Events Month Year
Dalian Spring Fireworks Festival First lunar month Annually
Dalian International Walking Festival April/May Annually
Dalian Sophora Japonica Festival May Annually
China Dalian Import & Export Commodities Fair May Annually
China International Software and Information Service Fair June Annually
Dalian International Beer Festival and Beach Carnival July/August Annually
Dalian International Fashion Festival September Annually
China (Dalian) International Garment & Textile Fair September Annually
Dalian International Marathon Race October Annually
Summer Davos Sept 6 – Sept 8 2007
China CSIA-ICCAD Annual Conference Oct 11 – Oct 12 2007
Honorary titles Awarded by Year
UN-Habitat Award UN 1999
Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment UN (Dubai) 2000
Global 500 Roll of Honor for Environmental Protection Projects UN 2001
Global 500 Roll of Honor for Environmental Achievement UN 2001
Investment-grade Credit Rating Report: A- World Bank 2003
Top 10 Cities of Economic Vitality CCTV 2004
Top 10 Commercial Cities in Chinese Mainland, ranking No. 3 Fortune 2004
Top 10 Livable Cities in China, ranking No. 2 Business Week 2005
Model City for Internationalization of Software Industry MOST 2005
State-level Model City in Science and Technology MOST 2005
Top 10 International Cities in China, ranking No. 2 IUCC 2005
Top 10 Cities of Folklore Festivals in China CTFFFF 2005
Best Tourist City of China CNTA, WTO 2007

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