Business / Policy Watch

Already there ... but still a long way to go

By Andrew Moody and Hu Haiyan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-01 06:44

"I think there is still a huge gap between us and developed countries. I think this applies across many aspects from education levels and provision of healthcare to our research and development capability and innovation levels.

"I think the targets for 2020 are not just about raising income levels but tackling modernization in a more fundamental way and providing a strong foundation in all these areas."

The NDRC not only plays a key role in drawing up China's five-year plans but also in setting macro-economic policies, monitoring the economy and overseeing major construction projects.

"We here in Binhu are essentially at the bottom rung of that process. We enact the five-year plan in line with the central government and we make adjustments according to the local specific situation," he says.

Wuxi, as with the rest of eastern China, is very much at the vanguard of the national strategy to rebalance the economy away from low-cost manufacturing to one which is more service-led.

Fan says there is no alternative strategy within his district since low-cost manufacturing does not make sense anymore. The local minimum wage in Wuxi is 1,480 yuan ($240) a month, only marginally less than 1,820 yuan in Shanghai.

"The labor shortage we have in eastern China has been obvious for a number of years now. Many foreign companies have shifted their manufacturing to western China and some also to Southeast Asia," he says.

The district set a course to modernize its economy more than a decade ago in 2003 with the establishment of the Wuxi National Industrial Design Park, which is now home to some 3,000 companies.

This was followed by four other parks: the Shanshui City Science and Education Industrial Park, which specializes in Internet related businesses; Mashan Biomedicine R&D Service Outsourcing Zone; Wuxi (Binhu) National Sensor Information Center, which is devoted to Internet of Things technology; and the latest in 2011, the Lihu Technology Pioneer Park.

Thousands of graduates, many at PhD level, are employed in companies at these parks working in businesses in leading edge service and technology sectors.

Shanshui park has perhaps the most high-profile project of all. Wuxi Studios is a 10-billion-yuan, 185,800-square-meter film complex, where post-production work has already taken place for a number of Hollywood blockbusters.

Fan says the investment that has taken place in these parks will give huge momentum toward the rebalancing of the local economy.

"These industrial parks are raising and will continue to raise the technology and knowledge standards of local industry. Our companies need to be more capital and knowledge intensive to compete."

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