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Delta to act as ‘role model’

He Wei in Shanghai
Updated: Mar 30,2013 10:23 AM     China Daily

Li: Service sector identified as focal point for further opening up

Premier Li Keqiang has called for the Yangtze River Delta, to act as the “dragon head”, or role model, of the country’s economic transition and upgrading.

Li chaired a meeting on March 29 of key leaders from Shanghai and its nearby Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui provinces, to review their economic performance in the first quarter of the year.

The Chinese economy’s continuous success will depend to a great extent on domestic consumption, the premier stressed in his first research tour since he took office in mid-March.

“Nothing can make us fail so long as we can manage to grasp the key link of domestic consumption,” he said.

Diversifying the nation’s gross domestic product requires adjusting and adapting its economic structure to enhance people’s livelihoods, he said.

The cornerstone to achieve this goal is to boost consumption by expanding employment and incomes.

“Only by moving forward, rather than going round in circles, can we keep steady,” the premier said.

But Li stressed that workable growth cannot be fueled unilaterally by a surge in GDP, but also has to take into account the overall health of the economy.

During a two-day research tour to Shanghai, Li identified the service sector as the focal point to further opening up Shanghai to international markets, as the city continues on its course of adding value to, and growing its economy.

He urged coastal areas to find ways to capitalize on the industrial reshuffle taking place in the wake of the global financial crisis, by seeking out and exploring potential business opportunities.

The premier also called for a favorable business environment to facilitate and help encourage multinational corporations to move their Asia-Pacific headquarters to China.

Also on March 29, Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli led a research tour to Zhongguancun, an area in Beijing known for its dense cluster of universities and high-tech companies.

Zhang stressed the importance of innovation in China’s economic transformation, while promising to improve the tax and fiscal incentives to innovation initiatives at the company level.

Both Li and Zhang pledged to maintain steady economic development while guarding against inflation, and said to do so is China’s major task in 2013.

Li embarked on his first trip as premier to the country’s most populous city on March 28, and visited the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, the oldest free trade zone on the Chinese mainland in proximity to the Yangtze River estuary.

Li was shown data explaining the cargo capacity of the port and its business performance. He encouraged the port to extend its management experience and investment opportunities to serve central and western regions.

Li greeted workers at the port and showed interest in their welfare and well-being by asking about salary increases and housing.

He also inspected the operations of WuXi AppTec, a New York-listed pharmaceutical and medical device outsourcing company, hearing about the latest research and developments regarding medical treatments being investigated by the company.

Li reiterated the importance of reform and opening up, as well as the evolving role of the government.

Upholding the service sector as a defining priority for the city will pay dividends for the Yangtze River Delta region as a whole, he said.

Yang Xiong, the Shanghai mayor, told this year’s session of the 12th National People’s Congress that moderate economic growth will help Shanghai adjust its economic structure, enhance its production efficiency and ensure a stable employment rate.

Last year, the service sector, for the first time, accrued more than 60 percent of Shanghai’s economic output, paving the way for the city to develop further service trade, said Yao Weiqun, associate president of Shanghai WTO Affairs Consultation Center.

Wei Tian in Beijing contributed to this story.