Premier Li Keqiang presided over a meeting on Dec 23 on promoting the sustainable and healthy development of China’s western area. At the meeting, a plan for further development of the area during the 13th-Five-Year Plan period was approved.
Premier Li said that West China is a difficult region in building a well-off society in an all-round way, but an important one: its development will help to improve the national average development level. Good results have already been achieved in the past 15 years, and now the 13th-Five-Year Plan period is key for the region’s transformation and upgrading.
New development concepts should be implemented with supply-side structural reform as the main line, and general demand should be expanded properly, the Premier said. The development strategy should be coordinated and connected with other important strategies such as the Belt and Road initiative and the Yangtze River Economic Belt, he added.
The strategy of innovation-driven development should be followed to promote a sustainable and healthy development of the region’s economy and society.
The Premier pointed out that in addition to support from the central government and the central and eastern regions, principal reliance should be on reform, opening up and innovation.
We should deepen the reform of streamlining administration, delegating power and optimizing services, and implement policies on cutting taxes and fees to lower institutional transaction costs and create a good business environment with great market potential. In this way, the society’s passion for entrepreneurship and innovation can be stimulated and private capital can be attracted to participate in the development, the Premier said.
Lessons from the demonstration role of the free trade zones should be fully absorbed by the western regions. Mass entrepreneurship and innovation should be encouraged and new technologies, industries and patterns based on Internet Plus developed. The western regions should employ their unique advantages to catch up with their eastern counterparts in fostering new growth engines.
The Premier said that the development of the western regions should focus on infrastructure and environmental protection. Bottlenecks such as road and water resources should be overcome. Transportation construction should be stepped up to create better road conditions in rural areas, and rural drinking water safety should be improved.
A green development mechanism to improve natural ecological systems and environmental protection is needed, as are ecological projects to protect forests, grasslands, wetland, and water heads.
Premier Li pointed out that the development of the western regions should focus on coordination between new-type urbanization and industrialization, information technology and modern agriculture. Key city clusters should be fostered to develop small and medium-sized cities and small towns with improved living conditions, and to attract high-level talents to these regions.
Related policies should be implemented to direct industries with high employment levels in eastern and central regions to the west, bring about improvement of exploration and development capacity in energy and mineral resources, improve rural living conditions, and develop characteristic industries such as medicine, traditional handicrafts and agricultural product processing. That process will form diversified industries and greater economic growth points, said the Premier.
He added that the development of the west should highlight continuous improvement in people’s living standards, and urged the combination of targeted poverty alleviation and poor area development to make poverty reduction efforts more effective. Support should be provided for transfer of educational and medical resources to western and ethnic minority areas. The development of ethnic minority areas and groups with small populations should be accelerated to maintain traditional ethnic cultures and enhance the well-being of people of all nationalities.
Premier Li stressed that related departments in all regions should continue to increase support for the west in terms of financial aid, taxation, project allocation and financial services to boost the development of these regions. At the same time, the western regions should enhance their sense of urgency and strive to make new and greater progress in development.
Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli also attended the meeting.