SHENYANG — Economic growth has improved in China’s northeastern provinces during the past few months and helped dispel doubts about their outlook for the future.
According to government data, GDP in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces rose 5.4 percent, 4 percent and 5.1 percent year-on-year, respectively, in the first three quarters, with Liaoning notching up positive growth for seven consecutive quarters and Jilin ending its six-month slowdown with robust growth in the third quarter of this year.
With economic growth accelerating, the provinces have “bottomed out” and entered a new phase of “restorative growth”, said Li Kai, deputy director of the Northeast Revitalization Research Institute under Northeastern University.
The three provinces were once the most important heavy industry bases in China.
However, they have been struggling for growth since 2014 following the decline of their traditional heavy industries such as coal, steel, petrochemicals and machinery.
Falling investment has intensified along with population loss, which made it more difficult for local governments to rejuvenate the economy. Reform was imminent.
Li is a long-standing observer of the economic scene in the region. He said local companies have vigorously promoted supply-side structural reform to adapt to the market, and governments have prioritized the work of improving the business environment.
A campaign was launched across the region to delegate responsibilities, improve regulation and optimize services, with hundreds of guidelines issued to transform government functions.
In Heilongjiang, about 73 percent of the review and approval items at the provincial level have been canceled. In Jilin, a total of 1,263 provincial review and approval items can be done with just one visit to the office.
As a result, private investment rose 8.8 percent, 11.5 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively in Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Jilin from January to September, including a major 3-billion-euro ($3.4 billion) investment by German automaker BMW.
Johann Wieland, president and CEO of BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd, said the investment will help improve the business environment in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province.
At the same time, Jilin and Liaoning have introduced favorable policies to attract talent to settle and thrive in their cities, including high relocation allowances, relaxed payment restrictions and entrepreneurship support.
In Liaoning alone, the province recruited 150 percent more high-level innovative young talents in the first seven months of 2018 than a year ago.
However, compared with other regions, especially coastal provinces in southeastern China, the northeastern provinces still lag behind in terms of economic development.
Li said the northeastern provinces can serve as a window on the Chinese economy. The changes in recent years have once again proved that only reform and opening-up can push the economy forward.