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Revitalization of NE China provinces fueled by 1st net resident inflow in over a decade

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-26 16:27
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Welding robots work at a welding workshop of sedan manufacturer FAW-Hongqi in Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin province, July 6, 2023. [Xinhua/Zhang Nan]

SHENYANG -- Once the nation's industrial powerhouse, Northeast China has long grappled with issues such as industrial overcapacity, dwindling resources and brain drain.

Yet the region, which consists of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, is upbeat about the future thanks to its revitalization efforts based on innovation and opening-up.

In 2023, a welcome change occurred in Liaoning and Jilin when they witnessed their first net inflows of residents in more than a decade, official statistics show.

Last year, Liaoning's net influx of residents was 86,000 and Jilin's was 43,400, according to the statistics bureaus of the two provinces.

Major cities such as Shenyang and Dalian in Liaoning province, and Jilin and Changchun in Jilin province, are among the top local inbound destinations.

Experts and demographers say that population growth correlates positively with economic development, and that population agglomeration promotes sustainable economic development.

And the 2023 economic performances of Liaoning and Jilin serve as compelling evidence. In 2023, Liaoning province's economic aggregate exceeded 3 trillion yuan ($422 billion) for the first time, with an economic growth rate of 5.3 percent, surpassing the national average for the first time in a decade. Jilin province saw its gross domestic product grow 6.3 percent in 2023, 1.1 percentage points higher than the national average.

"The net inflow of residents indicates the growing economic vitality and improved living standards and employment rates in Northeast China," said Zhou Tianyong, a professor at the Dongbei University of Finance and Economics.

Over the years, Northeast China has been using cutting-edge technologies in a bid to foster new industries and add new drivers to the transformation and development of old industrial bases.

Gu Wenhao, 37, majored in intelligent control systems in college and moved from Shanghai to Liaoning last year to work at Siasun Robot and Automation Co Ltd, which is based in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning.

"Siasun, as a leading company in the robotics industry, is attractive to me. And Shenyang has a very good living environment and development potential," Gu said.

In 2023, the number of small and medium-sized sci-tech enterprises in Liaoning increased to 33,000, offering various opportunities for talent like Gu.

In January, Liaoning's provincial government unveiled in its work report further efforts to pursue the full revitalization of northeast China.

The province will this year continue to promote the development of strategic emerging industries such as new materials, aerospace, robotics, new energy vehicles and integrated circuit equipment, according to the report.

In October 2023, a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee reviewed a guideline on policies and measures to further promote a new breakthrough in the full revitalization of northeast China in the new era.

With its rich resources, solid industrial foundations, unique geographical advantages and enormous development potential, northeast China has a significant strategic position in the country's overall development, the meeting said.

"The meeting indicated that Northeast China will embrace more favorable policies, which is conducive to the further consolidation of the resident inflow in the region," said Li Kai, vice-president of China Academy of Northeast Revitalization of Northeastern University.

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