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Quality to go hand in hand with growth

Xin Zhiming
Updated: Jan 30,2018 7:25 AM     China Daily

The 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in the Chinese mainland have released their GDP figures and adjusted the wording on how they will develop their economies this year, aiming for growth quality and sustainability.

Analysts said such a shift will not significantly affect the country’s GDP growth this year but will lay a solid foundation for future development.

Guangdong province registered GDP of 8.99 trillion yuan ($1.42 trillion) in 2017, the 29th year that it topped the local rankings. It is roughly equivalent to the economy of South Korea, which ranked 11th globally among nations in GDP in 2016, according to the World Bank.

Next are Jiangsu and Shandong, whose GDP stood at 8.59 trillion yuan and 7.27 trillion yuan, respectively.

Except for the bottom five provinces and regions, all the localities achieved a GDP of over 1 trillion yuan last year, according to local bureaus of statistics.

While achieving steady economic expansion, provinces and regions have shifted their development strategies in accordance with the call of the country’s top leadership for high-quality development.

Thirteen provinces and regions cut their GDP growth targets. Most local governments have given greater emphasis to development of new industries and high-tech sectors, promotion of people’s livelihood and poverty reduction as ways to improve their quality of growth.

Shandong, for example, has made efforts to move higher in the industrial value chain by upgrading its manufacturing and seeking greater growth in high-tech industries. In Guizhou province, big data and equipment manufacturing have become major pillars of local growth.

Meanwhile, local governments are spending more on people’s livelihood. In Hunan province, the proportion of spending on people’s livelihood in total public expenditures rose by 1.2 percentage points in the first 11 months compared with a year earlier.

“In the new era, all provinces and regions are making more efforts to create new growth engines, promote people’s livelihood and reduce poverty,” said Hu Shaowei, an economist at the State Information Center.

The Central Economic Work Conference in December saw Xi Jinping Thought on Socialist Economy with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era take shape. It emphasizes high-quality development instead of only pursuing high GDP growth rates.

The change in the growth model is set to exert some pressure on the growth rate of the world’s second-largest economy this year, and local governments should balance development quality and growth rates in the short term to iron out the negative effects of economic restructuring, Hu said.

Despite the new growth philosophy, however, China’s GDP growth will remain stable this year, said Liang Haiming, chief economist of the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute. “Given the fast global economic recovery, and domestically, the pick up in consumption and new growth momentum provided by supply-side structural reform, China’s GDP growth will be maintained between 6.5 percent and 6.7 percent this year,” he said.

There should not be great concern about local governments’ shift to more sustainable growth models, he said.