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High-quality development means shifting the growth model from crude to intensive, with a focus on innovation.
This will lead to a new pattern of innovation-driven, green development that fosters a harmonious relationship between humans and nature.
Jiangsu aims for higher growth
By Cang Wei in Nanjing and Li Hezi
An employee checks export-bound products at a spandex producer in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. [WANG CHUN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Jiangsu, a developed province and economic powerhouse in East China, will better coordinate investment, consumption and foreign trade to promote its economic growth and strive to make a greater contribution to the overall development of the country, said top provincial officials.

Xu Kunlin, governor of Jiangsu, said at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office on Tuesday that the province has set an economic growth target of over 5 percent this year, but it will make more efforts to achieve even better results.

Xu Kunlin

"In 2023, Jiangsu's GDP grew 5.8 percent year-on-year, 0.6 percentage point higher than the national average," said Xu. "The key priority is to combine the implementation of the strategy to expand domestic demand with supply-side structural reforms."

Last year, Jiangsu's GDP reached 12.82 trillion yuan ($1.77 trillion), compared with 6.51 trillion yuan in 2014, with 13 cities ranking among the top 100 nationwide and five reaching an economic aggregate of above 1 trillion yuan.

According to Xu, investment accounted for 34.1 percent of Jiangsu's economic growth in 2023. A notable positive development is the turnaround in the growth rate of private investment, which had been at a low level since June 2022.

The province's private investment increased 5.6 percent in the first two months of the year, signaling strengthened confidence in development and investment across society, said Xu.

In addition, the value related to equipment renewal in Jiangsu this year has reached 900 billion yuan. In response, the province has implemented a policy offering financial interest subsidies for manufacturing industry loans.

While consumer spending acts as a key driver of economic growth, Jiangsu has dedicated funds to encourage the use of environmentally friendly and energy-efficient household appliances, and this has yielded positive outcomes over the past two years.

In the first three months of this year, the province held more than 2,600 consumer promotion events. Its cultural and tourism sector also thrived, with consumer spending representing 11.2 percent of the national total during this year's Spring Festival holiday, securing its top position in the country.

According to Xu, the value of demand for replacing old consumer goods with new ones is projected to reach approximately 70 billion yuan this year, and the province is actively drawing up supportive policies and guidelines for the replacement of automobiles, household appliances and home furnishings to stimulate consumer spending.

He also stressed the importance of strengthening foreign trade, adding that Jiangsu's imports and exports fell short of expectations in the first three quarters of last year. However, the province has implemented more targeted measures to stabilize its international market share in response.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Jiangsu's foreign trade saw three consecutive months of positive growth, with a 7.3 percent increase in the quarter, surpassing the national average by 5.7 percentage points.

An action plan was also devised last year to promote the high-quality development of cross-border e-commerce, resulting in 13.4 percent growth in 2023.

This year, Jiangsu aims to establish more than 110 provincial-level cross-border e-commerce industrial parks and 15 cross-border e-commerce industry clusters. It facilitated the merger and reorganization of five provincial trade enterprises, with a combined import and export volume exceeding $11 billion. The reorganized enterprises are currently expanding their global trade layout, aiming for further trade growth.

"Our goal is to achieve positive growth in foreign trade this year," said Xu. The province's foreign trade increased 13.4 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2024, 4.7 percentage points higher than the national average.

Fang Wei, vice-governor of Jiangsu, said that the province's freight trains have 24 operational routes connecting China, Europe and Central Asia, while its cargo ships reach major ports globally, with over 26,000 cargo ships entering Jiangsu annually.

"This has established Jiangsu as a key transit hub for trade with Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asian countries, Central Asia and Europe," he said, adding that Jiangsu's total domestic and international trade volume is nearly 10 trillion yuan.

"The province has actively fostered international relations, boasting friendly ties with 363 cities in 67 countries and regions, ranking first nationwide," said Fang. "Jiangsu also stands out as a region with substantial foreign investment, hosting 43,000 foreign-invested enterprises, including over 400 Fortune Global 500 companies."

Fang said that foreign-invested enterprises have established 395 regional headquarters and functional institutions, as well as 293 research and development centers in Jiangsu.

New quality productive forces to power Shanghai's development
By Shi Jing in Shanghai and Li Menghan in Beijing

New quality productive forces and further opening-up will serve as two major engines for Shanghai's high-quality economic growth, said officials of the Shanghai municipal government.

They made their comments during a news conference held by the State Council Information Office on Thursday.

"While continued efforts will be made to expand Shanghai's economy, the city will be dedicated to the construction of a modern industrial system and the development of new quality productive forces," Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng said at the news conference. "Comprehensive reform and opening-up will be deepened at a higher level to better achieve high-quality development, both at the economic and social levels."

While three pioneering industries — integrated circuits, biomedicine and artificial intelligence — saw their combined industrial value reaching 1.6 trillion yuan ($221 billion) last year, they should aim for more breakthroughs to ease bottlenecks and further improve the resilience and safety of industrial and supply chains, said Gong.

The digital economy, green and low-carbon transition, the metaverse and intelligent devices will be the four areas in which Shanghai will strive for the upper hand amid market competition. The city also plans to be an early mover in the future-oriented healthcare, smart technologies, energy, space and new materials sectors, according to Gong.

"We will continue to step up mapping in disruptive and cutting-edge technologies while striving for breakthroughs in key technologies," he said. Technology mapping is used by companies for long-term planning in order to achieve specific objectives.

Traditional industries that make up a large part of Shanghai's economy, such as carmaking, steel and chemicals, should aim for digital and green transition by integrating with new technologies and novel business models, Gong said. In this way, traditional industries can also grow into new quality productive forces, the mayor added.

Research and development accounted for about 4.4 percent of Shanghai's GDP of 4.72 trillion yuan last year, while the figure was 4.2 percent in 2022.

To further nurture innovation in technology, which is crucial to the development of new quality productive forces, Shanghai will attach greater importance to basic research, giving full play to the 80-strong national level, high-end scientific research platforms and better supporting the 24,000 high-tech companies in the city.

A basic research pioneering zone is in the pipeline, Gong said.

In addition, more social capital will be invested in hard technology companies during their preliminary development stage, the mayor said.

As an international financial hub, Shanghai was home to 548 foreign licensed financial institutions last year. The city's total financial market trading value hit a new record of 3.37 quadrillion yuan, the highest in the world.

Shanghai will deepen opening-up in the financial sector by completing its market system, enriching product supply, optimizing the institution's mechanism and improving financial infrastructure, said Gong.

As home to 956 regional headquarters of multinational companies, Shanghai will further open up to attract more foreign investment, said Hua Yuan, Shanghai's vice-mayor, adding that foreign companies will be encouraged to invest in the sectors of green development, digital transformation and technology innovation in Shanghai.

While Shanghai remained the first in the world for twenty-foot-equivalent unit container throughput for the 14th consecutive year, with 49.16 million TEUs in 2023, efforts will be made to develop high-end services such as shipping insurance and maritime arbitration, said Hua.

By aligning with the world's high-standard economic and trade rules, Shanghai will further improve its business environment and advance institutional opening-up, said Hua.

Pudong New Area, where comprehensive reform pilot programs have been conducted, will play a leading role in institutional opening-up, said Gu Jun, director of the Shanghai Municipal Development and Reform Commission.

Market entry, especially in telecommunications and medical sectors, will be relaxed in an orderly manner. Six new regulations will be formulated in Pudong by the end of the year to advance reform in free trade accounts, commercial mediation and corporate compliance, he added.

To attract talent from home and abroad, which is integral to Shanghai's high-quality development, the city will roll out more policies to facilitate their household registration, housing, entry and exit into the country, said Gong.

Specifically, Shanghai has come up with more convenient payment methods for expatriates, covering both mobile and card payments. It also launched at the beginning of this year the International Services Shanghai portal to provide up-to-date information and policy guidance for expatriates working or traveling in the city, said Hua.

Zhejiang boosts foreign investment efforts
Multiple gantry cranes in operation at the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, in East China's Zhejiang province, on May 5, 2022. [Photo/VCG]

Zhejiang will continue to ramp up efforts to enhance its business environment in order to attract more foreign investment and encourage privately owned businesses amid measures to promote local high-quality development, authorities said.

The province will continue to foster a favorable business environment while accelerating the formation of new mechanisms for trade, investment and cooperation, said Lu Shan, vice-governor of Zhejiang, during a news conference held on Wednesday by the State Council Information Office.

"We are committed to creating a first-class business environment characterized by marketization and internationalization, and based on the rule of law," he said. "Through regularly hosting roundtable meetings for foreign enterprises, we aim to address challenges in production and operation, ensuring smooth progress of foreign investment."

Wang Hao, governor of Zhejiang, said that in 2023, the total number of market entities in the province reached 10.4 million, while the total foreign trade volume amounted to 4.9 trillion yuan ($678 billion).

Zhejiang's export volume, totaling 3.57 trillion yuan, accounted for 15 percent of the national share, ranking among the leading provincial-level contributors to the growth of national imports and exports, he said.

The province's efforts have already won support from many big brands and companies.

Following Zhejiang's global investment promotion campaign, which aims to attract a group of high-quality and innovative foreign investment projects, Saudi Aramco — one of the world's largest oil exporters — signed a 24.6 billion yuan investment agreement with Rongsheng Petrochemical Co last year to further expand its presence in the province.

The deal represents the continued growth of Aramco's downstream presence in Zhejiang, as the oil giant eyes greater investment and cooperation opportunities amid China's high-quality development, Aramco said.

Li Shuirong, chairman of Rongsheng, said the agreement also signifies an important step forward in the Zhejiang-based company's internationalization strategy.

Wang Lining, director of the oil market department of the Economics and Technology Research Institute of China National Petroleum Corp, said the nation has been encouraging participation of foreign companies in the refining sector and has attracted investment by several such companies over the past few years.

Large domestic private enterprises, including Rongsheng, have played a key role in China's advanced refining capacity in recent years, he said.

Wang Hao said that while Zhe­jiang looks forward to more foreign investment through continuous policy measures, it will also continuously foster a favorable business environment and maintain the sustainable growth of privately or individually owned businesses in the province.

"We will vigorously promote innovation and deepen reforms, in order to inject new vitality into the regional economy and create more new business opportunities," he added.

Beijing boosts intl sci-tech innovation hub amid high-quality development
Baidu and's autonomous driving vehicles test on the street in Yizhuang in Beijing's southern suburb. [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

BEIJING -- Beijing municipality will focus on building itself into a major international sci-tech innovation center and leverage its strategic role as the national capital to develop new quality productive forces in a drive to enhance the city's high-quality development, local authorities said on Tuesday.

In recent years, Beijing's efforts have achieved remarkable results. The city has topped the list of "Nature Index -- Science Cities" for eight consecutive years, ranking among the most innovative cities in the world, the city's mayor Yin Yong said at a press conference.

The volume of technology contract transactions in Beijing exceeded 850 billion yuan (about $119.74 billion) in 2023, with an average of 337 technology enterprises established each day.

In the face of a new round of global technological and industrial changes, the capital will continue to make efforts to improve its sci-tech research capabilities, deepen the reform of the sci-tech system, and strengthen the cultivation and introduction of talent, Yin said.

"We will concentrate on breaking through key core technologies and aim at the commanding heights of industrial development in more than 20 directions, such as future information, health, manufacturing, energy, materials and space," Yin added.

The metropolis has upgraded its urban management over the years, especially in the field of high-level autonomous driving. Three years ago, it took the lead in adopting the vehicle-road collaboration technology to promote the development of autonomous driving technology, according to Yin.

The area for autonomous driving in Beijing will expand from 160 square kilometers to 600 square kilometers this year, and the application of the technology will be accessible at five major railway stations as well as Beijing Daxing International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport.

"We hope to attract more leading enterprises and R&D institutions to the field of autonomous driving, and to improve the upstream and downstream supporting facilities of the industrial chain. We welcome all kinds of capital, especially long-term capital, to increase investment in this field," Yin said.

Beijing to further promote high-quality development
A view of Beijing's CBD area. [Photo/VCG]

BEIJING - Beijing municipality will continue to leverage its strategic role as the national capital and speed up high-quality development, local authorities said on Tuesday.

Over the years, Beijing has made substantial progress on technological innovation, improving the business environment and urban governance, among other areas, said the city's mayor Yin Yong at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office.

Adhering to its general development plan, efforts will be made to relieve Beijing of functions non-essential to its role as the national capital, and support the building of Xiong'an New Area, while advancing the high-quality development of the Beijing Municipal Administrative Center.

Steps will be taken to strengthen the metropolis' role as an international center for innovation in science and technology, and advance green and low-carbon development by optimizing the energy structure and scaling up the green electricity supply to 25 percent of the city's total.

Beijing will also accelerate the construction of the Integrated National Demonstration Zone for Opening up the Services Sector and the China (Beijing) Pilot Free Trade Zone, and will roll out more preferential policies for enterprises.

More will be done to ensure and improve people's well-being, Yin said, adding that the city will step up transportation management, aiming to increase the proportion of green transport in its central districts to 75 percent.

Beijing eyes more foreign investment
The skyline of Beijing. [Photo/VCG]

Beijing will continue to enhance its business environment to attract investment by introducing a series of foreigner-friendly measures and strengthen international exchanges, amid its comprehensive efforts to promote high-quality development.

Yin Yong, mayor of Beijing, made the statement at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office on Tuesday morning.

"We know that creating a favorable business environment is the greatest support for enterprises," he said. "Beijing has taken various measures and listened to the opinions and suggestions from enterprises."

For instance, during the past weekend, the city's senior officials visited companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Meituan and Alibaba in Beijing to better know their needs.

On Thursday, Beijing will hold an international meeting at which the mayor will engage in face-to-face discussions with leaders of over a dozen internationally renowned multinational companies, listening to their insights on Beijing's business environment.

"We deeply understand that the business environment can always be improved, and there is no 'best', only 'better'," Yin said.

According to the city government, in recent years, Beijing has implemented over 1,200 reform measures to improve the business environment, reducing procedures by over 60 percent.

"In the next step, we will focus on enhancing the sense of satisfaction for enterprises, striving to build the 'Beijing Service' brand for the business sector," he added.

Beijing's efforts have won support from many big brands and companies.

Zhou Xing from PricewaterhouseCoopers said that since its first permanent representative office was set up in Beijing in 1981, it has expanded investments in the capital to now have more than 5,500 employees in four offices, according to Beijing Daily.

"We look forward to more enterprises, entrepreneurs and investors coming to China, to Beijing, to truly experience the current multidimensional development," Zhou said, adding that the company will continue to play its role as a bridge, promoting the convergence of various domestic and international standards and assisting in promoting the sustainable development of Beijing.

Furthermore, Xia Linmao, the city's executive vice-mayor, said at the news conference that Beijing will make greater efforts to address the concerns of foreign friends.

For instance, in payment methods, Beijing will focus on enhancing the convenience of the use of cash, foreign bank cards and electronic payments, he said.

Also, in areas with many foreign residents such as Chaoyang district and the sub city-center in Tongzhou district, efforts will be made to accelerate the construction of international schools and hospitals.

"Additionally, the process for handling mobile phone cards both online and offline will be further improved for foreigners," he added.

At both Beijing Capital International Airport and Daxing International Airport, the authorities have established service centers for overseas visitors' payments, and plan to expand the construction of the service centers to enable visitors to enjoy more integrated services such as tourism, transportation and telecommunications upon their arrival.

In another development, Yu Yingjie, Party secretary of the Beijing Municipal Education Commission, introduced a coming national-level event — the 2024 Zhongguancun Forum, which will be held for the first time at its newly constructed permanent venue from April 25 to 29.

"UNESCO will participate as a supporting unit at the forum for the first time", Yu said. "The forum will be even more internationalized, with more fruitful results."

So far, 28 events have been organized at the forum, focusing on widely discussed topics such as large-scale model applications, cell and gene therapy, and quantum computing.

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