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CGTN: 5 years later, President Xi once again emphasizes development strategy for China's western region

CGTN: 5 years later, President Xi once again emphasizes development strategy for China's western region


CGTN: 5 years later, President Xi once again emphasizes development strategy for China's western region

BEIJING, April 24, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the need to boost high-quality development of China's western region during his inspection in Chongqing Municipality on Monday and Tuesday. He said the western region is of great importance for the modernization of the entire country.

This is the latest move by the Chinese president to promote the country's regional development. Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, just completed his inspection of central China's Hunan province last month. In Hunan, he emphasized vigorously revitalizing the central region and promoting the development of the Yangtze River economic belt, aiming to promote more balanced regional development.

China's Western Zone consists of 12 provincial-level regions, covering more than 70% of the country's area and housing 27% of China's population. The western region is known for its abundant renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, and various underground mineral resources such as rare earths, bauxite, coal and natural gas, which account for more than 70 percent of the country's total reserves.

In March 2019, at a meeting of the CPC Central Committee for Deepening Comprehensive Reform chaired by Xi, a guideline to advance the development of the Western region in the new era was adopted. The guideline argues that by 2035, the Western region will catch up with the Eastern region in the areas of public service, infrastructure connectivity and people's livelihoods. China's eastern region recorded nearly three times the GDP of the western region in 2023.

Five years after the guideline was adopted, Xi stressed that although the western region has recorded significant achievements, it still faces many development challenges. He urged the region to focus on its competitive local industries and accelerate its opening up.

Xi said at the symposium that the 12 provincial regions should develop modern manufacturing and strategic emerging industries such as new energy and biomedicine based on local conditions, and accelerate industrial transformation and upgrading. He added that tourism and other service sectors can become the region's pillar industries.

Xi made it clear that China's economy is moving from rapid development to high-quality development, and therefore each region should develop its economy according to its specific conditions and take advantage of its comparative advantages. During his inspection in Chongqing, he visited an international logistics center, a community in Jiulongpo district, and a digital urban operations and governance center. Local officials presented the development of the new international land-sea trade corridor, urban renewal projects and city governance to him.

The trade corridor is a major channel between China's western region and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. In January, it reached 490 ports in 120 countries and regions and saw its cargo volume increase 21% year-on-year in 2023, according to the work report of the Chongqing municipal government.

Xi on Tuesday called on the region to accelerate the construction of the corridor and better integrate with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to promote the region's opening-up. He previously said that the active participation of China's western region in the BRI would significantly improve connectivity between China's eastern and western regions and between China and the outside world.

So far, the connectivity model has taken shape in the western region. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS) shows that a total of 35,000 China-Europe freight trains have been launched from the western region in the past five years, accounting for 50.5 percent of the total country. In 2023, the total import and export volume of the western region increased by 37 percent compared to 2019.

Since the western region is the birthplace of China's major rivers such as the Yangtze River, Yellow River and Lancang River, and is home to many rare wild animals, Xi also pledged to safeguard national ecological security .

He highlighted the acceleration of major ecosystem protection and restoration projects, the strengthening of the Three North shelterbelt forestry program to combat sandstorms and soil erosion in the northern region, and the promoting energy saving and carbon reduction in traditional sectors, as well as the clean and efficient use of natural resources. coal.

China began to implement the national strategy for the large-scale development of the western region in 2000. In 2020, the average annual GDP growth of the region reached 10.2%, significantly narrowing the economic gap with other regions. More than 21.3 million hectares of agricultural land have been converted to forests or grasslands, with the forest coverage rate exceeding 19 percent, according to data from the National Development and Reform Commission.


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