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City clusters help boost balanced growth

Xin Zhiming/Ren Xiaojin
Updated: Jul 12,2017 7:09 AM     China Daily

The National Development and Reform Commission said on July 11 that by the year’s end, it will finish compiling a plan on the development of five interregional city clusters, which analysts said will boost regional economies and contribute to China’s balanced development.

They include the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Western Taiwan Straits Economic Zone, which covers Fujian province and some neighboring areas.

They also include the Guanzhong Plain urban cluster, including major cities in Shaanxi province; the Lanzhou-Xining cluster in Gansu and Qinghai provinces; and the Hohhot-Baotou-Erdos-Yulin cluster in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Shaanxi province, the NDRC said on its website.

“The plan will help those regions achieve a more healthy, green and sustainable development,” said Shen Chi, deputy director of the NDRC’s China Center for Urban Development.

China will continue to compile such plans to boost regional development, Shen said, and could finish plans for a total of 19 city clusters by 2020. Last year, China compiled a development plan for six city clusters, with eight to be done in the coming two years.

Those clusters already have relatively mature economies, and by compiling such a plan, Shen said, policymakers can better coordinate their development. “The plan has been compiled on the basis of catering to the respective development potentials, environmental sustainability and economic conditions of those regions,” he said.

Guangdong province, for example, has an advantage in manufacturing while Hong Kong has strength in education and corporate research and development capabilities; their coordination can accelerate the development of the whole Greater Bay Area, said Zheng Xinli, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

While providing manufacturing bases and a vast market, the Western Taiwan Straits Economic Zone can benefit from Taiwan’s strength in high-tech industries, such as electronics, said Zheng. “The two sides can cooperate to become a leader in the global electronics market.”

Zheng said the three city clusters in the northwestern and northern regions can help stimulate the less developed local economies and contribute to the country’s balanced economic growth. “They will promote the local job market, help build new industries, and reduce poverty.”

Zheng suggested that in developing those regions, the power of the market should be fully used, and the government can provide policy support to ensure the market plays a decisive role in resource distribution.

“The government can sort out projects with good chances of returns in those regions to invite social investors, including foreign investors,” he said.

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