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Things changing beyond big cities, so optimizing resources holds key to future

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-09 08:52
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Yang Peizhong, owner of Xinyi Family Farm, picks grapes in Xiantao, Central China's Hubei province, on July 7, 2017. [Photo by Yang Yang /]

In many Chinese counties or towns, livelihood-minded people, as well as the economy, used to depend on agriculture, low-end manufacturing and other material processing businesses. For some rural people, money sent by family members working as migrant workers in big cities was the lifeline.

But things are changing fast as rural people make ardent efforts to further integrate their lives into the development of city clusters and regional linkages, as well as the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. Many of them have found that the country's city clusters will play a huge role in optimizing resources of surrounding counties or towns, and eliminate homogeneous development.

As Chinese-made high-end intelligent equipment, China's new generation of information technology, new materials, new energy vehicles and other emerging industries are highly sought after in many parts of the world, regional development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Yangtze River Delta and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei city clusters will help create a number of leading cities, supported by the agglomeration of industries in surrounding areas.

However, it is worth mentioning that unlike big cities, many companies in counties may lack sensitivity to the change in market trends and still rely on the feedback from traditional marketing channels. Market demand may change due to the fragmentation of the manufacturing business.

In the meantime, consumers have also begun to pursue niche and customized products. This has become a challenge for county-level economies. Their established industrial structure and workforce may become a financial burden, and reach a crossroads, in terms of industrial upgrading.

To give full play to China's existing innovation advantages, counties with various development patterns should further upgrade their pillar industries via digital technology and brand awareness across the world, because it can be economical and beneficial to combine digital technology with the contemporary industrial system in order to raise the added value of their goods or services.

Artificial intelligence and big data analysis can efficiently boost the matching degree between consumers' diversified preferences and manufacturers' production capacity, so as to build a better industrial chain, supply chain and value chain supported by digital solutions.

For county-level economies, the way of conducting original equipment manufacturer (OEM) activities no longer meets the demand of their manufacturers for further growth, after decades of economic development.

Expanding domestic demand, adopting new marketing methods such as e-commerce platforms and building independent brands will continue to be an arduous task for the majority of Chinese manufacturers in these counties over the next stage.

During this process, they should be more inclined to see small batches of personalized and R&D-focused investment instead of simply pursuing scale. It will take time to shift from old drivers of manufacturing growth to new models.

In the face of complex domestic and international situations, China's ongoing supply-side structural reform can also bring opportunities for county-level economies as many of them are confronted with several challenges, including unbalanced economic structure and anemic growth of residents' incomes.

To resolve these issues, deploying resources to attract talent and promoting a modern service system including a professional service chain are crucial for supply-side agricultural structural reform.

Initiated in 2015, the reform has focused on five fronts: pruning overcapacity, clearing up the large inventory of unsold homes, curbing debt levels, lowering business costs and tackling weak links. It has yielded the desired results, promoted economic restructuring, and stabilized growth in China.

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