BEIJING — China will rejuvenate its northeast rustbelt region through more reforms and economic restructuring, according to a policy document released April 26.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) will be restructured, private firms will receive more support and regional cooperation will drive development, according to the document jointly published by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council.
The region’s equipment manufacturing sector will be modernized, and high-end industries, the modern service sector and modern agriculture will all be supported, it said.
The northeast, including Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, was among the first regions in China to become industrialized. Its traditional industries include steel, automobile, shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing and petroleum refining.
However, this once robust industrial base is bearing the brunt of a more-acute slowdown than the rest of the country, trailing well behind in terms of GDP growth.
Expediting the revitalization of the northeast, a major “pole” of China’s economic growth, is a significant part of the country’s modernization drive and overall economic restructuring, the document added.
The renewed action plan is reminiscent of a revitalization strategy rolled out by the central government in 2003, including a slew of supportive measures specially designed for the region.
The document, “Certain Opinions Regarding the Comprehensive Revival of Old Industrial Bases Including the Northeast,” called the new strategy a “major policy for the new century,” adding that this period would be crucial for reviving the region.
The region is experiencing growing downward pressure on growth while SOEs are lacking in vitality, according to the document.
By 2020, industries in recession and regions with dwindling resources should have transformed their growth patterns.
The region should have achieved medium-high growth, and should have met the target of building a moderately prosperous society by 2020, the document said.
In another ten years, northeast China should become the manufacturing base for advanced equipment and a strategic base for technological equipment. The region should become synonymous with new raw materials, modern agriculture and innovation.
Local governments should work to create an open and fair business environment and unleash economic vitality through eased approval procedures, the delegating of power to lower levels and improving services, according to the document.
The document called on local governments to improve SOE mechanisms and provide a favorable environment to make SOEs more competitive and an integral part of the regional revitalization drive.
SOEs should take the lead and seek efficiency through technology, restructuring and better management.
The development of the private sector will also be encouraged, with financing services for small and medium-sized businesses to be improved and investment access for private capital to be relaxed.
In addition, regional cooperation with northeast Asia, the Silk Road economic belt and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region will be stepped up.
The region should promote the development of advanced equipment manufacturing, in sectors including electricity, petrochemistry, mining, engineering, aviation and shipping, the document said.
The equipment manufactured by the northeastern provinces will not only be distributed on the domestic market, but the export of these products will be prioritized, too, it said. Guidance and support should be offered to steer industries from manufacturing to production-based services. The region should also develop the financial sector, modern logistics, as well as tourism and leisure sectors.
The northeastern region should make the most of the government’s innovation and entrepreneurship drive to turn innovation into a major source of development, according to the document.
To promote innovation, the document underscored the need to establish an effective system for incubating regional innovation, integrating scientific and educational institutions into regional development, as well as talent training and introduction.
“The starting point — and the ultimate goal of revitalizing the northeastern industrial bases — is safeguarding and improving people’s lives,” according to the document, adding that the government must make sure tangible benefits are shared by all people.
The document also pinpointed tasks to improve social security net, add more jobs, upgrade urban public services and make the environment more livable.