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Belt and Road Weekly

China outlines integrated development of Yangtze River Delta to cultivate world-class industrial clusters

December 05, 2019


Abstract : An outline of the integrated regional development of the Yangtze River Delta was released on December 1. In the future, the integrated development of the area will be advanced at multiple levels.

BEIJING -- An outline of the integrated regional development of the Yangtze River Delta was released on December 1. In the future, the integrated development of the area will be advanced at multiple levels.

At present, the total economic volume of the Yangtze River Delta accounts for about one quarter of the country's total, the overall labor productivity ranks among the top in the country, the annual expenditure on R&D and the number of effective invention patents both account for about one third of the country's total, and the total volume of foreign trade, foreign direct investment and outbound investment account for 37 percent, 39 percent and 29 percent of the country's total, respectively.

According to Zhang Xueliang, executive director of the Institute for Yangtze River Delta and Yangtze River Economic Belt Development of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, amid the current international and domestic environment, "the regional integration of the Yangtze River Delta has become a national strategy, which means that it should coordinate with the Belt and Road Initiative, the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and the construction of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area".

Multi-level coordinated regional development structure

The outline maps development for a 358,000-square kilometer expanse including Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province, Anhui Province and Shanghai Municipality. While giving full play to the leading role of Shanghai and promoting the development of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, the outline also designates a central area of 225,000 square kilometers, covering 27 cities.

Under the outline, the 27 cities should strengthen their cooperation and linkage and establish a mechanism for joint consultation and construction of major issues and projects. In the meantime, efforts should be made to reinforce in-depth cooperation with northern Jiangsu, southwestern Zhejiang and northern Anhui Province, strengthen the construction of key regional cities such as Xuzhou, Quzhou, Anqing and Fuyang, and drive the coordinated development of surrounding areas.

The outline also calls for urban integration of Nanjing, Hangzhou, Hefei, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou and Ningbo, so as to accelerate the establishment of a mechanism for major issues coordination among metropolitan areas, explore new modes of collaborative governance, and build a world-class city group in the Yangtze River Delta.

In addition, a demonstration area of ecological and green integration in the region with an area of about 2,300 square kilometers has also been designated, covering Qingpu District of Shanghai, Wujiang District of Suzhou and Jiashan County of Zhejiang. Its function is to demonstrate and lead the higher-quality integrated development in the region.

Another key area is the new area of China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which is based on Shanghai's Lingang Area. It aims to create a special economic functional area that is in line with international prevailing rules and boasts more international market influence and competitiveness.

"An all-round, multi-level and three-dimensional spatial layout is more conducive to orderly pushing forward the national strategy of Yangtze River Delta integrated development," said Zhang Xueliang.

However, to push the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta, it requires efforts in subareas. "The smaller the region, the more effective and more targeted the regional guidance policies will be, and the comparative advantages of various regions will be taken more accurately," said Zhang Xueliang.

By 2025, the coordinated development pattern of urban and rural areas in the Yangtze River Delta will be basically formed. The income gap between urban and rural residents in the central area of the Yangtze River Delta will be controlled within the ratio of 2.2: 1, the gap between the per capita GDP in the central area and the per capita GDP in the whole region will be narrowed to 1.2: 1, and the urbanization rate of the resident population will reach 70 percent.

Collaborative layout of industrial functions

"As the base of advanced manufacturing and modern service industry in the world, the Yangtze River Delta has strong supporting industries and a complete industrial chain," said Chen Wen, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In order to build a world-class city group and jointly participate in global competition, it is necessary to fully integrate the resources of the region and promote industrial synergy, Chen added.

According to the statistics, the region's output value of the automobile industry, the shipbuilding industry and the communication industry account for 26.23 percent, 30.8 percent and 29.9 percent of the country's total, respectively. The scale of integrated circuit and software information service account for about a half and one third of the total in the country, respectively.

A number of innovative communities and industrial clusters with strong international competitiveness in the fields of electronic information, bio-medicine, high-end equipment, new energy and new materials have been cultivated in the region.

According to the outline, in building world-class manufacturing clusters, the Yangtze River Delta will focus on ten major fields, namely electronic information, bio-medicine, aerospace, high-end equipment, new materials, energy conservation and environmental protection, automobile, green chemicals, textile and clothing and intelligent household appliances, and build a number of national strategic emerging industrial bases; in cultivating leading enterprises with international competitiveness, it will focus on ten key areas, including integrated circuits, new displays, Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence, new energy vehicles, life and health, giant aircraft, intelligent manufacturing and cutting-edge new materials, accelerate the development of new energy, intelligent vehicles and a new generation of mobile communication industries, and extend the industrial chains of robots and integrated circuits; while in accelerating the cultivation and distribution of a series of future industries, it will focus on eight major fields including quantum information, brain-like chips, the third generation semiconductors, the next generation of artificial intelligence, targeted drugs, immune cell therapy, stem cell therapy and gene detection.

The central area designated will focus on the distribution of industrial chain links in headquarters economy, R&D and design, high-end manufacturing and sales, vigorously develop innovation economy, service economy and green economy, accelerate the transfer of general manufacturing, and create a globally competitive industrial innovation highland.

As for northern Jiangsu, southwestern Zhejiang, northern Anhui and Dabie Mountain revolutionary base area in western Anhui, characteristic industries and supporting industries such as modern agriculture, cultural tourism, general health, pharmaceutical industry, and agricultural product processing, should be developed as key industries.

Reality and future of integrated development of Yangtze River Delta

The city group of the Yangtze River Delta has always been one of the most economically vibrant regions in China.

The population of the region in 2018 totaled 253 million, and its GDP totaled 21.15 trillion yuan, equivalent to that of Russia and India.

The population of the region increased 26.29 million from 2000 to 2018, making it one of the regions in China with the largest net population inflow.

The annual GDP growth rate in the region registered 13.3 percent from 2000 to 2018, 4.2 percentage points higher than the national average in the same period, taking the lead in the national economic growth.

Compared with the other world-class city groups, Zhang Xueliang pointed out that the Yangtze River Delta is still "not integrated enough". The region has the largest area which covers 358,000 square kilometers with an average GDP of 9.29 million U.S. dollars per square kilometer, far less than that of the world's other city groups in economic density.

However, after the integration of the Yangtze River Delta has been incorporated into a national strategy, the integrated development of this region will be accelerated. Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui have also issued implementation plans to put the outline into practice.

At present, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui have launched a series of cooperation in projects and platform construction. For instance, in June 2019, the integrated circuit industry alliance of the G60 Science and Technology Innovation Valley of Yangtze River Delta was formally established. And in September 2019, the integrated circuit industry public service alliance of the Yangtze River Delta was officially unveiled. (Edited by Tong Wei, [email protected])

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Keyword: Yangtze River Delta integrated development

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