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Increasing urban primacy ratio of Xuzhou to fuel development of Huaihai Economic Zone

November 19, 2019


Abstract : Xuzhou built a new type of urban agglomeration, promoted the existing foundation and location advantages into development advantages, and strived to create "four centers" to enhance the city's gathering capacity and urban primacy ratio.

At the thirteenth CPC Jiangsu provincial congress, Jiangsu Provincial Committee of the CPC and provincial government explicitly required Xuzhou to play "three roles," one of which is "to play a leading role in the construction of the Huaihai Economic Zone." In face of this mission, Xuzhou built a new type of urban agglomeration, promoted the existing foundation and location advantages into development advantages, and strived to create "four centers" to enhance the city's gathering capacity and urban primacy ratio and promote the coordinated development of the surrounding areas. A more powerful and convincing central city of the Huaihai Economic Zone is on the rise.

-- To Take the Leading Role to Drive the Development of Huaihai Economic Zone

In China, Huaihai Economic Zone covers 20 cities in four provinces of Jiangsu, Shandong, Henan and Anhui, and enjoys well-connected location, with Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province to the north, the Yangtze River Delta on the south, the coastal economic belt on the east and the Central Plains Economic Zone on the west.

Zhang Guohua, the then secretary of the Xuzhou municipal Party committee, said that Developing the Huaihai Economic Zone will help promote the coordinated development of the entire area of the eastern end of the Belt and Road, promote the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Yangtze River economic belt, and optimize the national productivity distribution. Xuzhou is located in the Huaihai Economic Zone. It's a geometric center that is 350 kilometers south of Nanjing, 320 kilometers north of Jinan, 380 kilometers west of Zhengzhou and 230 kilometers east of Lianyungang. Therefore, its regional advantage is very prominent.

In June 2010, the Regional Planning of the Yangtze River Delta, which was approved by the State Council, clearly defined Xuzhou's strategic positioning as the central city of the Huaihai Economic Zone. In November 2016, during the thirteenth CPC Jiangsu provincial congress, the provincial Party committee and the provincial government gave Xuzhou the “three roles” mission, one of which was "to play a leading role in the construction of the Huaihai Economic Zone."

Considering its highest urban primacy ratio, largest population and the largest economic volume in Huaihai Economic Zone, Xuzhou is the only city in the zone that has a national-level economic and technological development zone, a national-level high-tech development zone, and a state-level open airport. As such, Xuzhou has the foundation and strength to take up the leading position.

The provincial government's high expectations for Xuzhou are in line with Xuzhou's accumulated economic foundation, its development status and its location advantages. Xuzhou should take the responsibility and convert existing foundations and location advantages into advantages for further development, which will lead the rise of the Huaihai Economic Zone," said Zhou Tiegen, the then mayor of Xuzhou City.

-- To Develop "Four Centers" and Enhance the City's Urban Primacy Ratio

Zhang Guohua said, "To play a leading role, we need to focus on improving the city's gathering capacity and urban primacy ratio. To this end, we have defined the objectives and tasks of building the ‘four centers,' namely the regional economic center, the trade logistics center, the financial service center, and the science and education cultural center."

To build a regional economic center, Xuzhou needs to rely on a competitive modern industry. In Xuzhou, the construction of “one center, one base and one highland” is regarded as the main starting point, namely, building a regional industrial science and technology innovation center, an advanced manufacturing base, and a modern service industry highland. Statistics show that Xuzhou's industrial structure has been continuously optimized in recent years. The total industrial output value exceeded 1.2 trillion yuan by end June of 2017. To be specific, the tertiary industry accounts for 46.2 percent, and the output value of high-tech industry accounts for 36.2 percent of the industrial output value. The scale of eight industries including equipment manufacturing, energy and information technology exceeds 100 billion yuan.

Based on the requirements of the comprehensive revitalization of the old industrial base, Xuzhou has grasped the economic aggregate and the transformation and upgrading. Xuzhou will develop the "four new economy," i.e. new technologies, new industries, new formats, and new models as the main direction to accelerate the cultivation of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and 3D printing; and to develop new energy, new materials, electronic information, new medicines, energy conservation and environmental protection, and a new generation of information technology, etc. Together, this will gather new formats such as platform economy, headquarters economy and building economy. In 2016, a number of well-known ICT companies such as Huawei, ZTE, Oracle, Datang, Inspur, iSoftStone, Sugon, and CDGsettled in Xuzhou.

In terms of trade and logistics center, Xuzhou is the second largest transportation hub in China, forming a three-dimensional transportation network of "five-way confluence" which consists of railways, highways, waterways, aviation and pipelines. It has the unique geographical advantage in developing trade and logistics. Compared with other cities in the Huaihai Economic Zone, Xuzhou is larger in scale and more functional, with strong resource agglomeration and radiation capabilities.

In recent years, Xuzhou has made efforts to build a "quality consumer center, commodity distribution center, circulation organization center, service value-added center and business innovation center" to promote the construction of the five major business districts. To focus on creating "six major logistics parks," "three major logistics bases" and "four major logistics centers," Xuzhou has initially formed a manufacturing logistics as the mainstream, and also urban and rural distribution logistics, professional market logistics, railway logistics, aviation logistics, port logistics, urban economy (life) safety guarantee logistics as the supporting system. In 2015, Xuzhou was successfully approved as a pilot city for national logistics standardization. In January 2017, 13 companies in Xuzhou were included in the list of A-level logistics enterprises, ranking first in the province.

In recent years, a number of well-known domestic and foreign logistics enterprises and major projects have successively settled in Xuzhou, including Suning Appliance's logistics arm, Annto Logistics, Bikang pharmaceutical logistics, 100 million tons of big harbor, and Hangzhou eaststone highway port.

In terms of science, education and culture centers, Xuzhou are veritable talent highlands, cultural highlands, and innovative highlands in the Huaihai Economic Zone. Specifically, it has 14 universities, 31 independent research institutes, 200,000 college students and graduate students, seven CAE academicians, two CASs academicians, five "973" chief scientists, and five distinguished professors of the "Yangtze River Scholars" program, as well as two state-level development zones, a number of innovation platforms of national university science park, and 157 provincial-level engineering technology research centers.

To transform the advantages of science, education and culture resources into development advantages, Xuzhou strives to build a regional innovation system of "enterprise, platform, talent, carrier, finance and policy," and establish a new platform for innovation-driven development with "one city, one valley, one hospital and one district," to promote the construction of regional science, education and culture centers.

In the construction of "four centers," the financial service center has the weakest foundation, scarcity of resources, lack of talents and greatest difficulty. To break through these constraints, Xuzhou actively builds a financial service platform; grasps the construction of the financial district of the new city and the financial cluster of Huaihai Road; builds the Phoenix Bay Fund Town and Quanshan Science and Technology Financial Service Zone in the development zone; accelerates the approval of the financial asset trading platform; and encourages all counties (cities) to create special financial districts tailored to local situations.

Xu Lei, deputy director of Xuzhou Financial Office, said 42 domestic financial institutions have settled in Xuzhou, and the amount of financial institutions and loans far exceeds that of neighboring cities. Foreign banks such as HSBC and BEA also have cooperation intentions.

-- To Build New Urban Agglomeration and Amplify the Development Effect of Platform

Zhang Guohua said, To play a leading role in the construction of the Huaihai Economic Zone, Xuzhou should not work alone. Instead, it should promote the overall and coordinated development of the surrounding areas with the rise of the central city.

It is a basic premise to promote the constant improvement of the level and function of urban construction in Xuzhou. Xuzhou is the core city of the three major metropolitan areas planned by Jiangsu Province. In the 2016 Jiangsu provincial government work report, it was emphasized that it is necessary to play the leading roles of the three metropolitan areas of Nanjing, Xuzhou, and Suzhou--Wuxi-Changzhou. Focusing on enhancing regional radiation and driving role, Xuzhou proposed to build a five-level new urban system of “regional central city, county center city, central town (small city), key town, and new urban community,” and promote the development effect of platform type with new urban groups.

"Starting from this year, we will create eight central towns (small cities), 21 characteristic towns, 15 new community demonstration sites, and 100 beautiful and healthy residential demonstration villages in three years to form rational function and complementary advantages. Xuzhou strives to increase the level of urbanization by 1 percent per year, and lay a solid foundation for the construction of the central city," Zhou Tiegen said at the 2017 city economic work conference.

At present, Xuzhou has issued a "one opinion plus three programs" policy system to support the constant improvement of urban construction. A large number of urban construction projects have rolled out, including formulating strategic plans for urban ecological security patterns; promoting village environmental improvement and upgrading actions, comprehensive development of the old Yellow River road; comprehensively renovating 12.72 million square meters of shanty towns in urban villages, and renovating 432 old communities; providing convenient services to build a “15-minute community service circle” and "five-minute convenience living circle"; creating an  "exquisite, delicate, clean and orderly" urban environment. At the beginning of 2017, Xuzhou won the 2016 China Habitat Environment Award Comprehensive Award.

Xuzhou should play a leading role, but also maintain an open and cooperative attitude, and develop and cooperate with other cities in the Huaihai Economic Zone.

As early as 2010, Xuzhou led the first meeting of urban mayors in the core areas of Huaihai Economic Zone, and determined that eight cities including Xuzhou, Lianyungang, Suqian, Zaozhuang, Jining, Shangqiu, Huaibei and Suzhou were the core areas of the Huaihai Economic Zone. This marked the start of the integration of the core areas of the Huaihai Economic Zone.

After years of consultation and development and interactive communication, the inter-regional industrial interactions and exchanges in the core areas of the Huaihai Economic Zone have been constantly strengthened; the exchange and cooperation of talent resources between these regions have been deepened; the settlement and reimbursement of medical networks across provinces and cities has been continuously promoted. Meanwhile, an annual environmental protection consultation system was established. There has been also an emergency plan for the treatment of transboundary river pollution, and a long-term mechanism for environmental protection in place.

Zhang Guohua said, "To implement the new requirements for the development of Xuzhou by the provincial Party committee, we must stand higher, think deeper and lookfarther.  Xuzhou is in the process of exploring and exerting the 'three roles,' i.e. building a strong and beautiful high-tech Xuzhou, and building a more powerful and convincing central city to realize the leap-forward development of Xuzhou while coordinating the development of neighboring cities and promoting the rise of the Huaihai Economic Zone."

(Translated by Dong Jun, an analyst with China Economic Information Service.)

Source: "the Masses" (second half month version; published: July 5, 2017) Authors: Dong Jun & Zhu Chenglin

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Keyword: Xuzhou

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