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Premier Li: Fast-track growth in Central China

Zhang Yue
Updated: Dec 7,2016 10:54 PM

China has published a five-year guideline on invigorating development of advanced manufacturing, modern agriculture, new type of urbanization and ecological conservation in six central provinces.

The new guideline, approved at the State Council’s executive meeting on Dec 7, also outlines plans to grow modern agriculture, new types of urbanization, and further opening-up.

Premier Li Keqiang presided over the meeting.

“Our strategy to boost westward growth has not changed,” Premier Li pointed out. “Yet recently, there has been a divergence in development between southern and northern China. Meanwhile, each of the six central provinces has its own conditions. It is necessary to improve coordination across regions so that the central region can truly play a pivoting role in China’s economy.”

China’s central region comprises six provinces: Henan, Shanxi, Hubei, Anhui, Hunan and Jiangxi. These areas have rich land and agriculture resources and are abundant in human resources.

The central government has placed heavy emphasis on the region’s development. Premier Li has highlighted time and again the area’s rich potential, and the need to further reform and innovate to achieve sound growth.

He also pointed out in his government work report earlier this year that the government will improve the spread of development across regions and facilitate the rise of the central region.

The six provinces play an important role in maintaining China’s overall growth momentum, he stressed.

The country’s previous guideline on the central region’s development, issued in 2006, has achieved significant results. Over the decade, the region has become China’s heartland of food and energy raw material production, as well as a rising hub of modern manufacturing and transportation. In 2015, the region contributed 20.3 percent of China’s total gross domestic product, while the figure was only 18.8 percent in 2005.

While China’s economy is subject to restructuring and industrial upgrading, the region now faces challenges in furthering retiring excess industrial capacity and reducing reliance on labor and investment.

Reaching a higher level of development and better living standards requires a set of measures, such as optimizing the regional economic structure, nurturing new economic drivers, encouraging industrial upgrading, improving modern transportation infrastructure and new types of urbanization, as well as strengthening modern agriculture development.

“While building itself into a key area for advanced manufacturing and urbanization, the region should also spare no efforts in developing modern agriculture and promote agriculture of scale,” Premier Li stressed.

Market will play a decisive role in allocating resources, while the governments plays a guiding role. Reform and innovation will be key priority throughout the process, as well as encouraging wider cooperation across regions, strengthening ecological conservation and improving people’s living standards.

Proper control of coal mine production and pursuing technological innovation to boost industrial upgrades is also stressed in the guideline.

“The region should fully grasp its current momentum of growth and take further steps in opening-up and absorbing more modern industries moving westward from the east,” Premier Li said.