Developing Central China – In Praise of China

Developing Central China

Premier Li: Developing Central China

This article gives an excellent idea of how the Chinese government approaches its people’s needs holistically. And it isn’t just talk about developing central China. Soon I’ll be able to drive (on the just-opened Asian Highway) from my home in Chiang Mai to Kunming, the board a high-speed train either to Shanghai or….Lhasa!

Premier Li Keqiang (second from left) pays an inspection visit to the construction site of the Shanghai-Kunming high-speed railway in Changsha, Hunan province, on Thursday. LIU ZHEN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Premier Li Keqiang visits construction of the Shanghai-Kunming high-speed railway in Changsha, Hunan province, developing Central China

Central China as growth engine for the entire nation

Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Changsha, capital of Central China’s Hunan province, on Thursday, to take the pulse of the economy at midyear and propose steps to maintain growth.

The trip took Li to the construction site of a high-speed railway as well as a local university, where he enjoyed some light moments with workers and students.

The meetings were a stark contrast to the atmosphere at an economic symposium held afterward, where Li heard the worries of provincial governors and corporate leaders.

It is a convention for Chinese premiers to conduct field visits in early July ahead of the release of half-year economic indicators. So local governors and business owners were watching closely for clues about where the premier will take the nation’s economic policies.

Experts said his choice of a destination reveals the answer. The potential resilience of China’s economy lies not on the coastline but more in the central area of the country, where urbanization is just getting started, the infrastructure needs upgrading, and robust growth is expected.

According to an index compiled by the research institute of the 21st Century Business Herald, the economic well-being of central provinces led the nation in the first quarter of this year.

The index gives industrial output a 30 percent weighting, fixed-asset investment 20 percent and three other indicators 10 percent each. The result was that the central provinces have the greatest potential for development.

Hubei province in Central China topped the list. Four other central provinces also appeared in the top 10: Henan, Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui.

Northeast provinces – Heilongjiang, for instance – ranked at the low end of the scale. These old industrial bases are finding their restructuring to be a challenging task.

Zhang Keyun, a regional economics professor at Renmin University of China, said the central area faces fewer challenges in industrial restructuring than coastal China while being equipped with better public facilities and a more favorable investment environment than the west.

In addition, most of the central provinces are also important grain producers. That’s another key factor in their high level of well-being.

“Agriculture should not be regarded as an obstacle to development. Instead, the development of modern agriculture, which involves construction of facilities and investment in agricultural equipment, holds high potential for local economies,” Zhang said.

He said that at present, growth in the central area is largely driven by an increase in investment, so looking at the long term, there’s a need for the restructuring of heavy industry and the chemical sector.

“The development of the central provinces won’t occur in isolation. It will drive the surrounding area and become an economic engine of China,” he said. Read more…

2014-07-04 09:55China DailyWeb Editor: Qin Dexing

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