Premier Li Keqiang presides over a cabinet meeting in Beijing on July 31 focused on reviving old industrial bases such as Northeast China.[Photo/Xinhua]
Premier Li Keqiang presided over a cabinet meeting on July 31 focused on reviving old industrial bases such as Northeast China, and said “it’s vital to the national socioeconomic development to revive such old industrial bases.”
“Northeast China is where planned economy was implemented in the country for the first time. There are many long-standing problems - institutional and structural - in the region, and the local authorities face many unique challenges as they aim for a market economy. Support from the national government is required to revive Northeast China. However, its growth eventually counts on reform that stimulates the inner momentum there.”
Li said that people in the region made many sacrifices at the start of the industrialization process of the People’s Republic of China - especially working-class people who worked hard and did not think only of their own interests.
The premier mentioned statistics which show how much Northeast China contributed to the country - from the First Five-Year Plan to just before the implementation of the policy of reform and opening up to the outside world.
He said it is partly as repayment of a debt to them that the government is supporting old industrial bases such as Northeast China and helping residents overcome some “special challenges”.
Li recalled the days when he was secretary of the CPC committee of Liaoning province. He said he saw some homes of miners which had walls made of wooden boards - and even worse conditions.
“If we don’t clear this debt, if we continue to allow there to be skyscrapers on one side of the city and slum areas on the other side - we are not doing the right thing for those now elderly workers or their children,” he said. “We should have a sense of responsibility and a conscience.”
Li also said old industrial bases such as Northeast China should “further emancipate their mind and update their notions” and seek their “inner momentum” of growth through reform in order to regain their former preeminence.
Li gave an example to “illustrate how seriously the red tape of some government departments is restricting companies,” saying he recently saw a document relating to a program to improve the livelihood of residents in a city in Northeast China. The document had 133 stamps, but another 12 stamps were required before the program could be launched - and the start date had already long passed.
He addressed officials from Northeast China and relevant departments, saying that government departments at different levels should first “reform themselves” by abandoning or decentralizing “unnecessary power”, and “stimulating the vitality of the market and society.”
“Northeasterners are competent, tough and audacious. Government departments at different levels should increase the pace of reform of State-owned enterprises and boost the development of the private sector.”
Li also said that Northeast China should further open up by taking full advantage of the fact that it is located by the sea and near the country’s border. He said it should lead the country in fields such as equipment manufacturing and modern agriculture, speed up the upgrading of slum areas, and push infrastructure programs that benefit local residents and future generations.
He encouraged Northeast China to implement major reforms, saying that the initiative, innovation and entrepreneurship of the more than 100 million Northeastern residents will allow the region to realize its huge market potential and create an affluent society.
“ We should make a fair market to compete in, and allow the region to become home to innovation and venturing.”