China is publishing a five-year guideline on invigorating development of its six central provinces in advanced manufacturing, modern agriculture, new type of urbanization, further opening-up, as well as ecological conservation.
The new guideline was approved at the State Council's executive meeting on Wednesday. Premier Li Keqiang presided over the meeting.
"Our strategy to boost westward growth has not changed," Li pointed out. "Yet recently there has been a divergence in development between southern and northern China. Meanwhile, each of the six central provinces has its own conditions. It is necessary to improve coordination across regions so that the central region can truly play a pivoting role in China's economy."
China's central region comprises six provinces, including Henan, Shanxi, Hubei, Anhui, Hunan and Jiangxi. These areas have rich land and agriculture resources and are abundant in human resources while being well-developed industrial base.
The central government has placed heavy emphasis on the region's development. Premier Li has highlighted time and again on the area's rich potential, and the need for further reform and innovation to achieve sound growth.
He also pointed out in his government work report earlier this year that the government will improve the layout of development across regions and facilitate the rise of the central region.
The six provinces play an important role in maintaining China's growth momentum, he stressed.
China's previous guideline on central region's development, issued in 2006, has achieved significant results. Over the decade, the region has become China's heartland for food and energy raw material production, as well as a rising hub of modern manufacturing and transportation.
In 2015, the region contributes 20.3 percent of China's total GDP, while the figure was only 18.8 percent in 2005.
While China's economy is going through restructuring and industrial upgrading, the region now faces challenges in further retiring excess industrial capacity, reducing reliance on labor and investment, as well as technological innovation.
Reaching a higher level of development and better living standards calls for a set of measures, such as optimizing regional economic structure, nurturing new economic drivers, encouraging industrial upgrading, improving modern transportation infrastructure and new type of urbanization, as well as strengthening modern agriculture development. It also calls for giving priority to reform and innovation so as to invigorate potential from the market.
"While building itself into a key area for advanced manufacturing and urbanization, the region should also spare no efforts in developing modern agriculture and promoting agriculture of scale," Li stressed.
Market will play a decisive role in allocating resources, while the government plays a guiding role. Reform and innovation will be a key priority through the process, along with encouraging wider cooperation across regions, strengthening ecological conservation and improving people's living standards.
Proper control on coal mine production, seeking technological innovation for new economic drivers and boosting industrial upgrading will be the region's prioritized tasks, according to the guideline.
"The region should fully grasp its current momentum of growth, take further steps in opening-up and absorb more modern industries moving westward from the east," Li pointed out.