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Changchun aims to become Northeast Asia pivot

By Zhang Zhao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-19 09:04

Opening-up, economic revitalization and a focus on logistics, connectivity are at the center of development plan

As the 17th national-level new area, the Changchun New Area in Changchun, Jilin province, is leading the reforms and revitalization of China's northeastern regions, with its advantageous location, innovation and opening-up, local officials said at a forum held earlier this month in Beijing.

Established in February 2016, the Changchun New Area aims to become a regional hub in Northeast Asia and a demonstration zone suitable for both business and living.

It is located along the China-Mongolia-Russia international route, where three land-sea transportation routes join: one links the Japan Sea to the east and Europe to the west; another leads south along the ancient maritime Silk Road; and the third goes to Europe via the Arctic Ocean, which saves one-third of the time compared with conventional routes.

"The mission of the Changchun New Area is to build an international transportation hub, and to develop a globally influential cooperation platform ... to be integrated into the global economic landscape," said Wang Haoyu, deputy director of the area's planning bureau.

Three-step strategy

The Changchun New Area has a three-step strategy, according to its overall development plan approved in October 2016.

The first step is to establish a national-level new area with an open and innovative industry system. The second step is to become a pilot free trade zone to play a major role in the world economy. The third step is to comprehensively build the area into China's new window to the world, by exploring economic rules and policies that meet the zone's needs.

The area plans to use its strengths in high-tech information technology to develop an internationally influential modern services sector. Trade logistics is among the modern services the area will center around, focusing on transportation and e-commerce.

Aviation, railways and road logistics will also be promoted in the area.

Based on the Longjia International Airport, which underwent an expansion project in 2015, the new area will build an air logistics hub for the Northeast Asia region. It will also build an international land port based on the advanced local cargo railway network. The area is expected to have connections to 31 ports in Northeast China by 2030.

It will develop 81 service platforms in its four central business districts, covering fields including information, finance, technical innovation and talent recruitment.

Focusing on the smart equipment manufacturing sectors, the new area aims to develop a number of industry clusters with annual revenue of more than 100 billion yuan ($12.3 billion) each.

Using first-class environmental and agricultural resources, the area will develop its cultural tourism, healthcare, elderly care, food and biomedicine industries to build a "green consumption center in Northeast Asia", said Wang.

As one of the earliest national centers for the manufacturing industry and the movie business, Changchun witnessed its GDP increase 8 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year.

Development path

The city is planning a development path that features higher efficiency and an optimized structure, said Wang Junzheng, Party chief of the city.

"We have been actively restructuring Changchun's economy and seeking new sources to boost development, leading to a new normal of economic growth," he said.

In addition to updating traditional industries, the local authorities are also nurturing some emerging sectors such as big data, smart manufacturing, electronics, new materials and new energy.

"An open economy is vigorous and an open region is competitive," Wang Junzheng said. "We will seize opportunities in Changchun's opening-up progress to build an open new area facing Northeast Asia.

"The purpose of all efforts in the new area is to add vigor to technical innovation, investment and management, to speed up the socioeconomic development of Changchun."

With the theme of "Blueprint, Opening-up and Revitalization", the Changchun New Area Opening-up and Development Forum invited industry experts from China and overseas to deliver speeches on the planning and development of the Changchun New Area as well as other areas. The event attracted more than 200 participants, including officials, entrepreneurs and scholars.

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