China is drafting a new development plan for the Yangtze River Economic Belt for the next five years, as part of the country's ongoing efforts to promote green and high-quality development in the region, senior officials said on Tuesday.
Wang Shancheng, head of the comprehensive coordination group at the leading group office for promoting the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, said the group is making concerted efforts to improve top-level design for the economic belt.
"Currently, we are drafting a new plan to promote the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt for the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25) … We will work hard to advance well-coordinated environmental conservation and foster high-quality development for the Yangtze River Economic Belt," Wang told a news conference in Beijing.
To foster green and sustainable development in the economic belt, more efforts will be made to encourage and support provinces and cities along the Yangtze River to develop the next-generation information technology, high-end equipment manufacturing, new materials, biomedicine and other emerging industries, and cultivate strategic emerging industries and advanced manufacturing clusters with international competitiveness, Wang said.
"The leading group office will place priority on the protection and restoration of the Yangtze River's ecological environment, and it will also make a big push to fix prominent environmental problems," Wang said.
In the next step, the leading group office will also step up policy efforts to support green development for the Yangtze River Economic Belt, said Luo Guosan, director of the department of basic industries of the National Development and Reform Commission.
"We will further promote the pilot demonstration work of green development and form a list of replicable and promotable experiences and measures as soon as possible," Luo said. "We will also issue supporting policies for green development in fields like overall planning, financial support and infrastructure construction."
The sprawling Yangtze River Economic Belt covers more than 2 million square kilometers, accounting for around 21 percent of China's total land area and more than 40 percent of China's total population, official data showed.
During the past few years, China has already made considerable progress in boosting the development of the economic belt.
NDRC data showed that the Yangtze River Economic Belt accounted for 46.5 percent of China's economy in 2019, up from 42.3 percent in 2015. During the first nine months of 2020, the number jumped to 46.6 percent.
Luo said growth in the Yangtze River Economic Belt region was mainly due to the emerging industrial clusters, as the industrial scale of electronic information and equipment manufacturing in the region accounted for more than half of that in the country.
In terms of transportation and connectivity, the economic belt's railway network grew to 43,700 kilometers as of last November, and the high-speed rail network reached 15,400 kilometers, an increase of 9,120 kilometers and 7,824 kilometers from the 2015 figures.
In fact, after years of development, the Yangtze River Economic Belt is becoming a key pioneer of reform and opening up at higher levels. For instance, the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port in Zhejiang province has become the only port in the world with an annual throughput of over 1.1 billion metric tons. In 2019, the total imports and exports of goods in the economic belt exceeded $2 trillion, said Luo.
"We will continue to accord priority for environmental protection in the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and more efforts will be made to deepen reforms, encourage innovation and foster new growth drivers in the region," Luo said.