Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered an important speech at a symposium on advancing the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB). He chaired the symposium in Nanchang, Jiangxi province on Oct 12. He stressed the importance of fully and faithfully implementing the new development philosophy in all respects. He called for joint efforts in extensive protection of ecological environment and not engaging in excessive development, prioritizing eco-environmental protection and pursuing green development. Xi said the region’s development should be led by scientific and technological innovation while environmental protection and economic and social development should be advanced in a coordinated manner. It is imperative to strengthen coordination in policies and work to make long-term plans, seek long-term solutions and lay a foundation for lasting stability, further promoting the high-quality development of the YREB to better support and serve Chinese modernization, he added.
Li Qiang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chinese premier, Cai Qi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and Ding Xuexiang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and vice-premier, attended the symposium.
Xi Jinping held this symposium during his inspection trip in Jiangxi. At the symposium, Zheng Shanjie, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, Yuan Jiajun, secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee, Yin Hong, secretary of the CPC Jiangxi Provincial Committee, and Chen Jining, secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee, gave speeches, reporting on the work on promoting the high-quality development of the YREB and proposing opinions and suggestions. Leading officials from other provinces who participated in the symposium submitted written speeches.
After listening to everyone’s speeches, Xi Jinping delivered an important speech. He noted that in the past eight years since the implementation of the development strategy of the YREB, provinces and cities along the river, as well as relevant central departments, have conscientiously implemented the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee. They have adhered to the principle of jointly focusing on extensive environmental protection and not engaging in excessive development, prioritizing environmental protection and green development, concretely promoting the protection and restoration of the Yangtze River ecological environment, and actively promoting the green transformation of economic and social development in a comprehensive way. With unprecedented great determination and efforts, significant changes have take place in the development of the YREB. A major shift in thinking has taken place, as promoting well-coordinated eco-environmental conservation and avoiding excessive development has become a consensus. Significant achievements have been made in ecological environmental protection and restoration, and the beautiful scenery of “the clean Yangtze River flowing eastward” has reappeared. Great changes have taken place in the development mode, and innovation-driven development has gained momentum. Regional integration has been significantly improved, and regional synergy has been continuously strengthened. Significant progress has been made in reform and opening up, and the momentum of all-round internal and external opening up has accelerated. In general, the YREB’s achievements in development are obvious, its development quality is steadily improving, and so is its development trend. However, we should also be aware that the ecological environment protection and high-quality development of the Yangtze River Basin are in a critical period from quantitative change to qualitative change. The results achieved are yet to be consolidated, and there are still many difficulties and problems, which should be overcome through continuous efforts.
Xi noted that in the long run, the high-quality development of the YREB fundamentally depends on the high-quality ecological environment of the Yangtze River Basin. He called for efforts to resolutely promote well-coordinated environmental conservation and never to pursue excessive development, instead endeavors must be made in high-level environmental protection. Ecological red lines have been drawn along the Yangtze River, which must never be crossed, and zoning control of the ecological environment must be strengthened, and the permit list must be strictly implemented. Party committees and governments at various levels must have a clear idea of the important designated local ecological spaces, give priority to their strict protection. Comprehensive measures should be taken to improve ecological environment, with strengthened measures for pollution control in key areas. Water resources, water environment and water ecology should be coordinated. Solid progress should be made in preventing and controlling air and soil pollution. More attention should be paid to front-end pollution control to reduce the total amount of pollutants from the source. The “10-year fishing ban” on the Yangtze River should firmly be implemented, and the achievements already made be consolidated. Concerted efforts should be made to cut carbon emissions, reduce pollution, expand green development, and pursue economic growth. The green transformation and upgrading of industries should be prioritized to accelerate the development of green and low carbon industries and actively develop green technologies and products to make the economy greener so as to strengthen the potential and resilience of development. Localities with advantaged ecological environment should be supported to transform their ecological resources into economic gains. The horizontal compensation system for ecological conservation should be optimized to incentivize all stakeholders along the river to be involved in environmental protection efforts.
Xi stressed the need to adhere to innovation-driven development, and transform the region’s strengths in scientific research and talents into driving force for development, actively explore new areas and new paths so as to foster new drivers and strengths for development. Work should be done to strengthen the coordination and collaboration between the optimized science and education resources and the innovation in science and technology. To upgrade industries and modernize industrial chains, breakthroughs in new areas should be planned and new paths explored for development. High-level talents in scientific and technological innovation should be attracted to improve the innovation capability in cutting edge technologies so as to expedite the pace in making breakthroughs in a batch of key technologies. Xi called for efforts to modernize industrial and supply chains and continuously promote the core competitiveness of manufacturing industry. Efforts should be made to facilitate the growth of advanced manufacturing industry, accelerate the development of strategic emerging industries and future industries, and promote the deep integration between digital economy and real economy. The coordination and cooperation of industrial chains needs to be strengthened with a view to promoting the expansion of advantaged industrial chain and the building of industrial chain for emerging industries.
Xi pointed out that the YREB’s advantage as an artery that links rivers to the ocean, extends from the west to the east and serves both northern and southern part of China, must be given full play. The YREB should play an active role in connecting the domestic and international market, and channel these resources to improve the endogenous power and reliability of the domestic economy and boost the appeal of the domestic market to the global economy. In this way, the YREB could provide strategic support to the building of a new development paradigm. As far as industrial development is concerned, provinces and cities along the Yangtze River should tap into their own development potential and find their own distinctive strength on the one hand, and coordinate with each other and foster connectivity between them on the other. Efforts should be made to coordinate the layout and transfer of industries along the Yangtze River, improve the distribution of major productive forces, and ensure the orderly transfer of capital, technology, and labor-intensive industries from the country’s eastern seaboard to the central and western regions, and from central cities to the hinterland. Vigorous actions are needed to promote high-level opening up and explore new areas and channels for international economic cooperation. The role of the pilot free trade zones in the provinces and cities along the Yangtze River should be fully utilized, and pioneering steps must be taken in institutional innovation, thus promoting coordinated development among them, as well as accumulating new experience and exploring new paths for building an open economy at a higher level.
Xi Jinping emphasized the need to focus on strengthening regional coordination and integration. Provinces and cities along the Yangtze River should keep to inter-provincial consultation and joint ecological conservation, and make sure that all localities are on board of their shared development initiatives for the benefit of all. Efforts should be made to enhance regional connectivity, consistency in policies and rules, and coordination in their implementation, so as to steadily build a community for ecological conservation and shared interests, and promote coordinated regional development.
Overall planning and construction of regional transportation infrastructure is needed, and quicker steps should be taken in building multi-storey and multi-modal transportation corridors. This helps strengthen the connectivity among transportation networks and the coordination among land, water, and rail transportation, and improve the level of regional transportation integration. Market reforms for production factors should be advanced. The underlying systems for property rights protection, market access, fair competition, and social credit should be improved, and data and information sharing and interconnection across regions, departments, and administrative levels should be enhanced. We should strengthen cooperation in government services to improve the business environment. The value of the Yangtze River’s culture in the new era can be further explored, and more outstanding literary and artistic works can be introduced to showcase the value of the Yangtze River in the new era. Efforts should be made to deepen the integration of culture and tourism, build a number of riverside cities, towns, and villages with natural landscape and historical and cultural heritage, so as to turn areas along the Yangtze River into a golden tourism belt with international fame.
Xi noted that the YREB is vital to China’s overall development. It is imperative to ensure both development and security, and this belt should play a bigger role in safeguarding the security of food, energy, key industrial and supply chains and water resources, so that the stability of the YREB will contribute to the overall national security. All the provinces and cities along the Yangtze River must fulfill their responsibilities on food security, be it a major grain-producer, a major grain sales area or an area where agricultural production and sales are balanced. Coordinated protection of quantity, quality and ecosystem of farmland must be strengthened to gradually develop all permanent basic cropland into high-standard cropland, efforts be intensified to protect and use the agricultural germplasm resources, and major bio-breeding projects be carried out to improve the innovation capacity of enterprises in the seed industry. To increase grain production, regions along the river are urged to focus on increasing the output of unit production at a large scale, strengthen integrated promotion of good cropland, seeds, machinery and cultivating methods, and cultivate various types of agricultural operation of appropriate scale and commercial agricultural services. We must continue to advance energy cooperation among the regions in the upper, middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River with coordinated efforts of the whole nation. We must strengthen the basic supporting role of fossil fuels such as coal, ensure that coal is used in a cleaner and more efficient way, attach importance to the complementarity and deep integration between advantageous traditional energy such as water and electricity and new energy such as wind power, photovoltaic and hydrogen power, speed up the efforts to develop a system for new energy resources and promote the integration of power generation, transmission, loading and storage. We must work hard to ensure a peaceful Yangtze River, rationally grasp the change of its water conditions, adhere to a simultaneous prevention and fight against both drought and flood, promote connectivity of water systems and conservation of water and soil in a coordinated manner, strengthen a coordinated and unified dispatch of water conservancy projects along the Yangtze River Basin, better manage the distribution of trans-regional water resources in high-flow and low water season so as to improve the basin’s capacity for disaster prevention and mitigation.
Xi stressed the importance of a working mechanism under which the central authorities coordinate, provinces take overall responsibility, and cities and counties ensure implementation. The Central Leading Group for Coordinated Regional Development must strengthen coordination and supervision, while relevant departments of the central authorities should support the projects that comply with the plan to promote high-quality development of the YREB, and promote a batch of major reform projects in key areas. It is imperative to ensure that Party committees and governments at all levels across the provinces and cities along the Yangtze River fulfill their principal responsibilities, and ensure that all work is done to the letter. We must take the theoretical study program as an opportunity to guide all officials to have a correct understanding of what it means to perform well, and improve their capabilities of promoting high-quality development. It is essential to guide all kinds of enterprises and social organizations to actively participate in the development of the YREB, increase input in human, material and financial resources, and give full play to the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of the people. It is imperative to conduct regular inspections, evaluations and oversight of the implementation of the Outline of Yangtze River Economic Belt Development Plan, and urge local governments to identify problems and make rectifications in a timely manner.
Li Qiang said in his speech that it is necessary to earnestly study, understand and thoroughly implement the spirit of General Secretary Xi’s important speech, and maintain the strategic resolve to promote eco-environmental protection, and continue the efforts with perseverance. It is necessary to strengthen comprehensive management and source management, improve compensation system for ecological protection, and explore ways to realize the value of ecological products. The functional zoning strategy must be allowed full play to improve economic structure. To give full play to the leading role of the Yangtze River Delta, work must be done to harness the comparative regional strengths and identify the positioning of regional functions to promote the common development of the regions in middle and upper reaches. Efforts must be made to further the construction of a unified large market, improve the “soft” and “hard” connectivity in the region, actively integrate the region into the flow of international economy, and boost the linkage effect of the two markets and two resources.
Ding Xuexiang said in his speech that it is necessary to deeply study and implement the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress and the spirit of General Secretary Xi’s important speech, promoting well-coordinated ecological conservation and never engaging in excessive development, prioritizing ecological conservation and green development, providing important support for high-quality development with high-level eco-environmental protection. Work should be done to strengthen the construction of major innovation platforms, promote the deep integration of innovation and industrial chains, and cultivate new growth drivers for high-quality development with high-level scientific and technological innovation. It is vital to coordinate the actions of local and central authorities and get all levels working as one, rationally determine the functional orientation and development direction, and coordinate opening up in areas along the coast, rivers, the frontier and inland, so as to form synergy for high-quality development with high-level inter-regional coordination.
Li Ganjie, He Lifeng, Wu Zhenglong, Mu Hong and Jiang Xinzhi were present at the symposium. Leading officials of relevant central Party and government departments, relevant local governments and enterprises attended the symposium.