Planning on Yangtze River economic zone to issue
2015-09-29 15:33

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It is learnt by the Economic Information Daily that preliminary framework of the Outline of Planning on Development Strategy of Yangtze River Economic Zone (the Planning Outline) which is one of the three major economic strategies in China, has already been finished and is likely to be issued before the end of this year, or even before the release of ‘thirteenth five-year plan’. To this respect, insiders indicate that Yangtze River Economic Zone is a significant axis band crossing eastern, middle and western parts of China and connecting the northern and southern China, likely to be ‘China’s economic backbone’.

The Planning Outline is one of the three major economic strategies in China, echoing each other with integrative development strategy for Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region at a distance to form the most important regional development strategy of China in future years. Currently, Planning Outline on Synergetic Development for Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region has been officially issued. However, the planning for Yangtze River Economic Zone with simultaneously-confirmed planning goals has not been issued yet.

Lian Weiliang, deputy director of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), indicated in press conference of the State Council Information Office of the PRC that the NDRC is intensively formulating the Planning Outline. But according to latest information learnt by the journalist, preliminary framework of the Planning Outline has already been finished, likely to be issued before the release of the ‘thirteenth five-year plan’. Hu Angang, director of Center for China Studies under Tsinghua University, also revealed that the Planning Outline will be issued soon.

In terms of status of Yangtze River Economic Zone, Hu indicated that the three major strategies boosted by China, including strategies on ‘Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region Planning Outline’, ‘One Belt and One Road’ and ‘Yangtze River Economic Zone’, will end the pattern of ‘four major independent parts’ to connect each region so as to realize the regional integration, especially the ‘Yangtze River Economic Zone’, which connects eastern, western, north and south parts of China.

Indeed, Yangtze River Economic Zone covers 11 provinces and cities, such as Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province, Anhui Province, Jiangxi Province, Hubei Province, Hunan Province, Chongqing, Sichuan Province, Yunnan Province and Guizhou Province. Their total population and GDP both take up over 40 percent of that of China.

Zhang Jun, deputy director of Development Research Center of the State Council, indicated that the golden waterway of Yangtze River stretches across three largest regions in eastern, middle and western parts of China, with various developmental differences and strong economic complementarity among the provinces and cities along the river. “The traffic construction of golden waterway should be further strengthened, and policy coordination, planning connection and law enforcement cooperation should also be enhanced for upstream and downstream industrial developments, which can promote integrative development of the economy along the river so as to better facilitate the synergetic development for the eastern, middle and western regions of China.”

Song Xiaowu, president of China Research Foundation for Economic Reform, also suggested that the Yangtze River Economic Belt which stretches from the eastern China to western China and connects the southern China with northern China should play a leading role in the regional development.

 “The first-tier Belt, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, should play a key role in building its surrounding areas into second-tier development belt and comprehensive development belt,” said Song. If the Yangtze River Economic Belt can play a leading role, there will be second-tier development belts, including the Han River, Xiang River and Gan River development belts, which will form a compound belt integrating the development in eastern, middle and western China.

Notably, the compound belt will awaken China from the economic depression. Fang Chuanglin, a researcher at the institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, indicated that the Yangtze River Economic Belt is a new support for China’s economy. The Economic Belt will expand from coastal regions to the inland along rivers, promoting economic growth and improving economic quality and efficiency. “The city clusters stretching from eastern China to western China along the Yangtze River Economic Belt are a strategic support for the Economic Belt. And the sustainable development of the city clusters determines the future of the Yangtze River Economic Belt.”

Ba Shusong, chief economist at China Banking Association and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, also believed that China is cultivating new engine for regional growth inward and the Yangtze River Economic Belt is likely to become a backbone of China’s economy. He added that in the new stage, China will develop inward along the Yangtze River and the Eurasia Land Bridge, accelerate the upgrading of traditional industries in middle and western China, continue to transfer the industries in coastal areas, expand the Shanghai, Chongqing and Wuhan shipping centers by relying on the developed city clusters in the Yangtze River Delta, the city clusters in the middle reach of the Yangtze River and city clusters in Chengdu City and Chongqing Municipality, and promote the development in both ends and drive the development in the central region in the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

Indeed, along with the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, investment in the cities concerning the economic belt is getting ready. Institutions point out that as the economic belt involves 600 million people and its GDP accounts for 45 percent of the national GDP, future investment in the region will reach 1 trillion yuan. In terms of rail transit construction, it is estimated that the mileage of high-speed railway and urban rail along the economic belt will total 9,000km and 3,900km respectively. The newly added routes will bring 480 CRH trains and 2,500 urban rail vehicles. In addition, the increase in passenger flow volume of existing routes will further boost demand for railway equipment.

The figure in the forecast is not virtually high. Hubei Province in the economic belt has signed a big order with 1 trillion yuan. Recently, Hubei convened a symposium on central enterprises promoting the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Hubei and the central enterprises signed 96 project cooperation agreements with 803.5 billion yuan of investment amount at the meeting. About 33 project contracts with 649.1 billion yuan of investment amount were concluded on spot. Meanwhile, the government signed strategic cooperation agreements with 9 central enterprises, with the agreed investment amount standing at 273 billion yuan. This means the total investment of the reserved project cooperation agreements and strategic cooperation agreements of Hubei region totals 1,076.5 billion yuan.

Translated by Jennifer Lu and Star Zhang
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