In 1978, combined imports and exports through the port city of Yantai totaled only $26 million. Thirty years later, the figure has increased by 1,000 times - this year it is projected to surpass $27 billion.
Before a small, obscure costal city in east China's Shandong province, Yantai has made enormous strides to become one of the nation's most dynamic cities with vast development potential.
"Opening-up bridged the distance between Yantai and the global stage," said Sun Yongchun, secretary of the city's municipal Communist Party committee. "Once it was named among the first 14 costal cities opened up to the outside world, Yantai began to attract attention."
As international economies began sharp declines last autumn - which has become full-blown recession for many - totals on the import and export value of Yantai for the first nine months of the year came in at $25.3 billion, up 59.9 percent over the same period last year. It had one of the fastest rates of import and export growth of China's costal cities.
There are 3,327 corporations in the import and export trade in Yantai. The top two are Hongfutai Co Ltd and Hongfuhai Co Ltd, which respectively imported and exported $3.86 billion and $3.19 billion worth of goods.
From a modest beginning with a single export - hand-worked fabric - 30 years ago, the city now exports 4,000 products to 207 countries and regions.
Attracting world capital
There were no foreign companies in Yantai three decades ago, but today it is home to 50 of the top 500 global corporations and 60 noted international companies. Some 11,000 foreign-funded projects with $15.8 billion in direct investment have begun operations, while the city's firms do business with 180 countries and regions.
It was foreign capital and advanced technology that boosted the upgrade of Yantai's industrial structure. Entering the 21st century, the manufacturing, electronic information, machinery and food sectors have been the city's core industries.
Emerging industries including electronics, cellphones, vehicles and mechanical excavators as well as software have also advanced the city's development. Among them, GM's sedan program and Doosan's excavators led the boom in Yantai with output value of 50 billion yuan annually.
Doosan Infracore (China) Co Ltd, with 15,000 excavators produced every year, has maintained 30 percent growth. Now top in China's earth-moving equipment, Doosan plans to boost annual production capacity to 20,000 units next year.
Over 50 international companies, including GM, LG, Doosan and Mitsubishi, have invested more than 150 programs in Yantai.
Yantai Economic and Technological Development Area (YEDA), established in October of 1984, has been a window to the world and a significant center attracting foreign investment.
Covering less than 7 percent of the city, YEDA generates 50.2 percent of production value, 44 percent of tax revenues and 34 percent of other revenues for the city.
Last year, the import and export value of YEDA totaled $22 billion, sixth among China's 54 national development areas.
Trade volume of foreign-funded companies contributes 84 percent of the citywide total, while taxes from foreign-related firms comprise 48.9 percent of the total. The foreign trade and investment contribute over 30 percent to the city's economic growth.
Yantai also supports enterprises going global. The city's foreign projects and labor service contracts totaled $1.62 billion.
International trade companies have built a global sales network encompassing 50 countries and regions, while overseas resource companies have eased the shortage of local wood, bauxite, lead and zinc.
Among them is a Sino-Russia forestry industrial park developed by Yantai Northwest Forestry Co Ltd with a total investment of $1.68 billion.
Improved living standard
Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the city's urban per-capita disposable income averaged 16,772 yuan last year, a rise of 35.8 times compared to 1980. The local living standard has made dramatic progress from barely meeting the needs for food and clothing to securing a well-off livelihood.
Consumption habits have greatly changed. Thirty years ago, people purchased goods to meet the needs of daily life, now they consume more to relax and enjoy life. The per capita living expenses of urban residents of the city reached 11,829 yuan last year, 27.5 times that of 1980.
Yantai has received many honors, titles and prizes from home and abroad, including "Most Charming City in China", "UN Habitat Awards", "National Environmental Protection City", "National Model Prize for Residential Environment" and one of "The Chinese Cities with the Most Investment Potential".