South China's Guangdong Province has achieved robust growth in the 70 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China. The province's GDP grew from 2.03 billion yuan (about 294.11 billion U.S. dollars) in 1949 to 9.7 trillion yuan in 2018, and is expected to exceed 10 trillion yuan (1.49 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2019, said Ma Xingrui, the provincial governor, at a press conference on Monday.
The provincial revenue increased from 320 million yuan in 1950 to 1.2 trillion yuan in 2018, making it the first province in the country to exceed a total of one trillion yuan in revenue.
The province has continued its effort in opening up to the rest of the world. Its foreign trade totaled 7.16 trillion yuan in 2018, accounting for about a quarter of the nation's total.
The urbanization rate reached 70.7 percent. The province plans to invest 160 billion yuan in 10 years on rural infrastructure and improving public services to accelerate changes of rural areas.
Innovation drives growth
Ma said innovation had become the main driving force of Guangdong's development. The province's R&D expenditure exceeded 250 billion yuan in 2018. The number of its PCT international patent applications accounted for about half of the national total.
"The regional innovation ability maintained top spot in the country," Ma said. He added that the province is the birthplace of companies with strong innovation capabilities like Huawei, Tencent, Guangzhou Automobile, Gree, and Media.
Greater Bay Area
According to the blueprint released in February, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is the latest attempt to enhance China's reform and opening-up policy, as well as a new practice approach to promote the "One Country, Two Systems" principle.
Ma said that Guangdong will optimize the business environment by connecting rules in the market economy as well as accelerate the construction of the International Science and Technology Innovation Center in the Greater Bay Area, using measures such as constructing technology infrastructure and giving tax benefits to scientific and technological personnel.
He added the province will enhance connectivity by infrastructure construction. The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway, operating since last year, has reduced the driving time from Hong Kong to Guangzhou from four hours to 47 minutes.