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Xi: Bolster growth of western region

President stresses important role of New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor for area

By MO JINGXI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-24 06:55
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President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, inspects the Chongqing International Logistics Hub Park on Monday. YUE YUEWEI/XINHUA

President Xi Jinping emphasized on Tuesday the need to boost the high-quality development of China's western region by pursuing higher-standard opening-up, both internally and externally, as the country advances Chinese modernization.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks when presiding over a high-level symposium in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, where he made an inspection tour from Monday to Tuesday.

The western region covers Chongqing, six provinces and five autonomous regions. It includes more than 70 percent of China's land area and is home to nearly a third of the nation's population.

To promote the region's opening-up, Xi said efforts should be made to accelerate the development of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, a major trade channel between China's western region and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The corridor, which reached 490 ports in 120 countries and regions as of January, saw its cargo volume rise 21 percent year-on-year in 2023, official data showed.

Xi also called on the region to better integrate itself with the Belt and Road Initiative, promote the high-quality development of pilot free-trade zones and deepen practical cooperation with the country's southern, northern and northeastern regions.

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, Xi has made more than 30 fact-finding trips to the western region, providing guidance and drawing a blueprint for the region's development in the new era.

Official statistics showed that the region's GDP reached 26.9 trillion yuan ($3.71 trillion) last year, with an average annual growth rate of 4.9 percent over the past five years.

Xi said that while the region has achieved significant progress in terms of ecological protection, economic opening-up, infrastructure and people's livelihoods over the past five years, it still faces difficulties and challenges that remain unsolved.

He urged the region to focus on its competitive local industries, develop emerging sectors suited to local conditions and speed up industrial transformation and upgrading.

The region should accelerate the upgrading of traditional competitive industries, develop tourism and other service sectors into its pillar industries, and explore the development of modern manufacturing and strategic emerging industries, he said.

Xi highlighted the importance of building a solid national ecological security shield in the western region, as the region holds significant strategic importance in safeguarding national ecological security.

Since the strategy for the large-scale development of the western region was implemented in 2000, more than 21.3 million hectares of farmland have been converted into forests or grassland.

The region is also home to the Sanjiangyuan National Park and the Giant Panda National Park.

Xi said that work should be done to optimize the development and protection of the nation's land resources, adopt a stronger region-specific approach to environmental management, and accelerate the implementation of major projects for protecting and restoring key ecosystems.

The president also urged the region to accelerate the construction of a new energy system and establish a number of important national energy bases, in order to enhance security and guarantee capabilities in energy resources and other key areas.

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