Five years ago, President Xi Jinping hosted a symposium in Chongqing on promoting the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, emphasizing this must proceed from the long-term interests of the Chinese nation and adhere to the path of green development that puts ecology first.
Promoting the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt is a major decision made by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and a major strategy related to the overall development of the country. It is of great significance to the realization of the "two centenary" goals and the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
President Xi is concerned about the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. He has conducted many in-depth investigations and surveys and promoted the high-quality development of this region.
The major battlefield of ecological and green development
The Yangtze River Economic Belt covers 11 provinces and cities along the Yangtze River, straddling China’s east, middle and west, with a prominent ecological position and huge development potential. President Xi has repeatedly emphasized in the past five years that the restoration of the Yangtze River's ecological environment should be an overwhelming priority.
President Xi inspected a riverside district in Nantong City, Jiangsu Province on Nov 12, 2020. After getting out of his car, his first question was: "How is the water quality here?" In recent years, the local area has shut down more than 200 scattered and messy enterprises, cleared more than 160 small miscellaneous ships, closed the country's largest imported sulphur distribution center, and demolished illegally constructed building along the river.
As of November 2020, centralized sewage and garbage treatment facilities in cities and counties along the river came close to achieving full coverage, and garbage treatment facilities for ships were completed. The mother river has embarked on a path of green development, giving the ecology priority.
Boosting domestic and foreign markets
The Yangtze River Economic Belt, one of the regions with the greatest potential for economic growth in China, is important for establishing a new development pattern, which takes the domestic market as the mainstay and allows the domestic and foreign markets to boost each other.
President Xi has pointed out the direction for the Yangtze River Economic Belt to better boost domestic and foreign markets: taking the domestic market as the mainstay and ensuring that the whole country works together. It is necessary to coordinate the opening up of coastal and inland areas, improve the level of openness, promote trade innovation and development, and use foreign capital for higher quality projects.
In the early winter of 2020, in the heavy industrial park of Baling town, Xingren, Guizhou Province, key projects of Zhejiang-Guizhou industrial cooperation between the east and the west have achieved good results. The 100,000-ton aluminum deep-processing project invested and constructed by Ningbo enterprises was completed and put into production.
In recent years, provinces and cities along the Yangtze River have continued to break down administrative divisions and market barriers, narrowed the development gap among the east, middle and west, and promoted to build a new higher-level open economic system.
Leading high-quality development
President Xi emphasized in November 2020 that efforts should be aimed at turning the Yangtze River Economic Belt into the major artery for a smooth integration of domestic and international markets, and the main force spearheading high-quality economic development.
With the continuous advancement of the development strategy of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the scale of electronic information, equipment manufacturing and other industries along the Yangtze River Economic Belt accounted for more than 50 percent of the country’s total.
In 2020, facing a complex situation at home and abroad and an epidemic, provinces and cities along the Yangtze River actively responded, and the economic growth of most provinces and cities soon turned from negative to positive. In the first half of 2020, the total GDP of the 11 provinces, cities and regions in the Yangtze River Economic Belt exceeded 21 trillion yuan ($3.24 trillion), accounting for 46.3 percent of the national economy. The Yangtze River Economic Belt, with its population size and total economic output occupying half of the country, is undoubtedly an important engine for China's high-quality economic development.
Promoting the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt is not only a tough battle, but also a lasting battle.
(Compiled by Luo Meiqi)