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Goals set to invigorate the growth of central provinces

By ZHANG YUE and HU YONGQI | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-08 06:12

China issued a five-year guideline on invigorating development of its central region, aiming to build it into a key area for advanced manufacturing, modern agriculture, urbanization and ecological conservation.

The guideline was approved on Wednesday at a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.

"Our strategy to boost westward growth has not changed. Yet, recently, there has been a divergence in development between southern and northern China, and each of the six provinces in central China also has its own condition," Li said. "It's necessary to improve development across regions so that the central region can truly play a supporting role in China's economy."

The six provinces in central China — Henan, Shanxi, Hubei, Anhui, Hunan and Jiangxi — have rich land and agriculture resources. The region contributes 20.3 percent of China's total GDP, up from 18.8 percent in 2005.

However, amid the ongoing restructuring and industrial upgrading, the region faces challenges in further retiring excess industrial capacity and reducing reliance on labor and investment, as well as in technological innovation.

The new guideline sets a goal that the six provinces will account for a considerable proportion of China's production output, while people's livelihoods will be improved significantly.

The goals will be achieved through such measures as optimizing the regional economic structure, creating new economic drivers, encouraging industrial upgrading, improving modern transportation infrastructure and strengthening agriculture development.

"While building itself into a key area for advanced manufacturing and urbanization, the region should also spare no efforts in developing modern agriculture and promoting agriculture management of scale," Li said.

"The region should fully grasp its current vigorous momentum of growth and take further steps in opening-up and absorb more modern industries moving westward from the east," the premier added.

Huang Qunhui, director of the Institute of Industrial Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China is being transformed from a low-end to a higher-end development model, and the manufacturing sector is moving from the coastal east to the central region for lower costs and a large potential market.

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