SHANGHAI: The Yangtze River Delta, a major powerhouse of China's economy, could be expanded from 16 major cities to include the entire region to bring about smooth integration among Shanghai and the neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.
Experts attending an international seminar over the weekend, which saw top leaders from Shanghai and the two provinces attending, announced that the long-anticipated regional-development outline would soon be released, Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po reported.
While ensuring Shanghai's status as the zone's core, a three-layer, sustained coordinative mechanism is in the pipeline to promote integration of the delta and enhance its global competitiveness.
It is the first time for the delta's integration to top the strategic agenda of the financial hub and its two neighbors.
Citing the seminar's participants, the Hong Kong newspaper said the regional development outline and another guideline - partly drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission to further reform, opening up and coordinated development in the region - would be unveiled soon.
Traditionally, the integration concept includes the cities of Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou, Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, Taizhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, Nantong, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Huzhou, Jiaxing, Zhoushan, Shaoxing and Taizhou. The two new documents would extend it to include less-developed areas in Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
Tu Qiyu, a researcher from Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said Monday that the expanded integration would unify administrative systems in Jiangsu and Zhejiang and make cooperation easier within the zone.
"Instead of the current 'one province, two systems' policy in Jiangsu and Zhejiang, the change will broaden cooperation in more respects and make for a more harmonious development in the whole area," Tu said.
The seminar, opened on December 1, highlighted regional environmental protection and sustainable economic development, unification of the delta's market, sharing 2010 Shanghai Expo opportunities and expanding the expo's effects.
To remove administrative barriers to further integration within the zone, industry and commerce administrators in Shanghai and its two neighbors also signed a joint memorandum of understanding on unifying market access for businesses in the region.