Turn­ing Gears of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt

Pro­mot­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt by re­ly­ing on the golden wa­ter­course of the he Yangtze River will let it drive China’s econ­omy once again.

China Pictorial (English) - - Front Page - Text by Zhang Xue

The Yangtze River is con­sid­ered the mother river of Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion, and it con­tin­ues nour­ish­ing life along both banks to this day. With a to­tal length of more than 6,300 kilo­me­ters, it is China’s long­est river, travers­ing from the west, through the cen­tral re­gions to the east coast. It has the great­est vol­ume of wa­ter, the long­est route and the rich­est wa­ter re­sources in Asia.

The Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt cov­ers 11 prov­inces and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in­clud­ing Shang­hai, Jiangsu, Zhe­jiang, An­hui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hu­nan, Chongqing, Sichuan, Yun­nan and Guizhou, span­ning a to­tal area of about 2.05 mil­lion square kilo­me­ters. The re­gion, which ac­counts for more than 40 per­cent of both the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion and GDP, is not only one of the most im­por­tant eco­nomic cen­ters and growth en­gines ines in China, but also a key player in the he Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

In Septem­ber 2014, the State Coun­cil re­leased the Guide­li­ne­son n Pro­mot­ingthede­vel­op­mentof the he Yangtzerivere­co­nomic­belt­byrely- Re­lyin­gonthe­gold­en­wa­ter­courseof the Yangtzeriver. On March 25, 2016, 6, a de­vel­op­ment plan for the Yangtze ze River Eco­nomic Belt was de­lib­er­ated ted

upon and adopted by the Po­lit­i­cal Bureau of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) Cen­tral Com­mit­tee.

By then, the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt had been for­mally launched. It is one of China’s three ma­jor de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives along­side co­or­di­nated de­vel­op­ment of the Bei­jing-tian­jin-he­bei re­gion and the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

All-out Ef­forts for Pro­tec­tion, No Large-scale De­vel­op­ment

“We must make restor­ing the eco­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment of the Yangtze River a top pri­or­ity,” stressed Presi- dent Xi Jin­ping, also gen­eral sec­re­tary of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and chair­man of the Cen­tral Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sion, set­ting the tone for the fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt.

On April 26, 2018, Xi chaired a sym­po­sium on pro­mot­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt in Wuhan, cap­i­tal of Hubei Prov­ince.

There, he stressed that we must fo­cus on the long-term in­ter­ests of the Chi­nese na­tion, which means mak­ing restora­tion of the eco­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment of the Yangtze River a top pri­or­ity. He also called for all-out ef­forts to pro­tect the Yangtze River, say­ing that there should be no largescale de­vel­op­ment of the river.

The ul­ti­mate goal is to make the eco­nomic belt into a golden seam fea­tur­ing a more beau­ti­ful ecol­ogy, smoother trans­port, a more co­or­di­nated econ­omy, a more in­te­grated mar­ket and more ra­tio­nal mech­a­nisms. The mis­sion is to ex­plore a new path that puts ecol­ogy first while pursuing green de­vel­op­ment, Xi said.

The cli­mate of the ar­eas along the Yangtze River is warm and hu­mid, with a wide range of rivers and

rich re­sources.

Af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of re­form and open­ing up, the Yangtze River val­ley was listed as one of the ear­li­est re­gions for de­vel­op­ment in China.

With the rapid eco­nomic growth and large-scale de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion, a con­sid­er­able vol­ume of in­dus­trial waste­water and do­mes­tic sewage are di­rectly dis­charged into the Yangtze River, caus­ing se­ri­ous pol­lu­tion of the wa­ter in some parts and se­vere shrink­age of lake ar­eas. Co­or­di­nat­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt to pro­tect the river’s ecosys­tem has be­come an ur­gent task.

Xi elab­o­rated on that topic: “When we say there should be no large-scale de­vel­op­ment, it does not mean we can­not de­velop at all, but we should avoid de­vel­op­ment that is de­struc­tive to the river, and we should strive for green de­vel­op­ment that puts ecol­ogy first.”

He called for stop­ping un­planned de­vel­op­ment and cap­ping to­tal pol­lu­tion dis­charge by re­lent­lessly and se­verely crack­ing down on the il­le­gal sewage dis­charg­ing, sand-min­ing and other de­struc­tive ac­tiv­i­ties that un­der­mine the ecosys­tem along the river, and keep­ing such ef­forts high on the agenda.

By fo­cus­ing on green de­vel­op­ment by pro­mot­ing eco­log­i­cal im­prove­ment, the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt will achieve sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in the fu­ture.

Lead­ing the Chi­nese Econ­omy for Cen­turies

The Chi­nese civ­i­liza­tion orig­i­nated in the Yel­low River val­ley. Ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal records, fre­quent flood­ing and wars along the Yel­low River caused three large-scale pop­u­la­tion mi­gra­tions south­ward.

Dur­ing the Song Dy­nasty (9601279), the Yangtze River val­ley sup­planted the Yel­low River val­ley as the eco­nomic nu­cleus of China.

Since then, the ar­eas along the Yangtze River, es­pe­cially the mid­dle and lower reaches of the river, have re­mained the most pros­per­ous re­gions in China for al­most 1,000 years. As early as the South­ern Song Dy­nasty (1127-1279), a well-known say­ing claimed that if Huzhou and Suzhou (in the lower reaches of the river) had a good har­vest, they could feed the e whole na­tion.

In mod­ern times, the Yangtze River val­ley pi­o­neered China’s in­dusus­trial de­vel­op­ment, con­stantly re­fresh­ing and ad­vanc­ing the in­dus­trial rial mode, po­lit­i­cal sys­tem and ide­ol­ogy gy of the na­tion.

In 1865, Li Hongzhang, gov­er­nor-gen­eral of Liangjiang (cov­er­ing to­day’s Jiangsu, An­hui and Jiangxi provovinces and Shang­hai Mu­nic­i­pal­ity) in n the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911), opened ened the Jiang­nan Ma­chin­ery Man­u­fac­tur­ing ring Bureau in Shang­hai, mark­ing the es­tabtab­lish­ment of the largest west­ern­iza­tion ion busi­ness in mod­ern China which served as a pre­lude to the coun­try’s s mod­ern in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion.

In 1899, Zhang Jian, noted for r achiev­ing the high­est score in the 1894 im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tion of the Qing Dy­nasty, founded the Dasheng ng Cot­ton Mill in Nan­tong, Jiangsu Prov­ince, in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, which was one of the ear­li­est cot­ton mills in China.

Sub­se­quently, more than 20 in­ndus­trial and min­ing en­ter­prises foundunded by Zhang Jian formed a com­plete ete light-in­dus­try chain, pro­mot­ing the de­vel­op­ment of mod­ern in­dus­try stry in China.

In the 20th cen­tury, Shang­hai, , lo­cated at the es­tu­ary of the Yang­gtze River, be­came the eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal of the Far East. As a par­adise for ad­ven­tur­ers and the e en largest ex­change plat­form be­tween China and Western civ­i­liza­tion, it was the first place for Euro­pean fash­ion on and ideas to be im­ported and spread ead to other parts of China.

Af­ter 1949, cities along the Yangngtze River such as Shang­hai, Wuhan, , Nan­jing and Chongqing have con­tin­ued oc­cu­pied piv­otal po­si­tions in n China’s eco­nomic map.

In 1990, the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee de­cided to open and de­velop the Pudong Dis­trict of Shang­hai to pro­mote the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the Yangtze River Delta and the greater Yangtze River val­ley.

Since then, the Yangtze River Delta has re­mained at the fore­front of China’s re­form and open­ing up. The de­vel­op­ment of Pudong has car­ried a torch for the com­pre­hen­sive de­vel­op­ment of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt.

Over more than 20 years of de­vel­op­ment and con­struc­tion, the in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment advantages of the re­gion have been con­tin­u­ously strength­ened, the strate­gic pat­tern of re­gional ur­ban­iza­tion has taken shape, and its strate­gic po­si­tion in China’s de­vel­op­ment land­scape has be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant.

Travers­ing East to West, Ra­di­at­ing North and South

The Yangtze River is a golden wa­ter­course with the largest freight vol­ume among the world’s in­land rivers, and the wa­ter chan­nels of the river are the most im­por­tant east-west axis for China’s re­gional de­vel­op­ment.

The in­tro­duc­tion of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt has opened a new chap­ter for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion.

The Chi­nese peo­ple have long com­pared the Yangtze River to a huge dragon: The city clus­ter around Shang­hai in the Yangtze River Delta is like the dragon’s head, the city clus­ter around Wuhan in the mid­dle reaches of the river its waist, and the Chengdu-chongqing city clus­ter its tail.

The Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt cov­ers 110 cities at pre­fec­tural level and above. If they re­al­ize com­ple­men­tary de­vel­op­ment, op­ti­mal di­vi­sion of la­bor and co­or­di­na­tion of work, the eco­nomic belt would un­leash tremen­dous eco­nomic po­ten­tial. The launch of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt will in­ject great vigor and vi­tal­ity to the “dragon,” bring­ing co­or­di­nated de­vel­op­ment to the whole re­gion.

Lo­cated in the mid­dle reaches of the Yangtze River, Wuhan is an im­por­tant city con­nect­ing the up­per and lower reaches of the river. At the Wuhan New Port, the di­rect ship­ping route to Shang­hai’s Yang­shan Port is the busiest, which en­ables car­gos to be trans­ported from Wuhan to Shang­hai in 72 hours. The route is part of Wuhan’s di­rect ship­ping route project link­ing the mid­dle reaches of the Yangtze River to the sea, which has greatly cut the time it takes to reach the ocean.

The launch of the Wuhan-europe freight train route, link­ing Wuhan to West Asia and Europe, con­nected the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt with coun­tries along the Belt and Road.

Start­ing from Wuhan, the Wuhan-europe freight train route runs through the Alataw Pass in north­west­ern China’s Xin­jiang Uygur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion and fi­nally reaches Ham­burg, Ger­many, with a to­tal dis­tance of 10,324 kilo­me­ters, travers­ing more than a dozen coun­tries in Asia and Europe.

“It used to take about 45 days for sea freight to get to Europe, but now it only needs 12 days by freight train,” beamed Lin Zheng­peng, gen­eral man­ager of the Wuhan AOC Dis­play Tech­nol­ogy Co., Ltd.

Only two years since the de­vel­op­ment plan for the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt was re­leased, sig­nif­i­cant re­sults have al­ready emerged.

Af­ter the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt de­vel­op­ment plan, the share of the re­gion in the na­tional econ­omy in­creased from 41.2 to 43.8 per­cent, up by 2.6 per­cent­age points, noted Sun Changxue, di­rec­tor of the strate­gic plan­ning of­fice of the Macroe­co­nomic Re­search In­sti­tute un­der the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion (NDRC). The guid­ing role of the na­tional de­vel­op­ment plan is emerg­ing, he said.

The Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt is greatly sig­nif­i­cant in pro­mot­ing co­op­er­a­tion be­tween east­ern, western and cen­tral China as well as co­or­di­nat­ing the river’s up­per and lower reaches, pro­vid­ing im­por­tant sup­port for China to trans­form from a big coun­try into a pow­er­ful coun­try.

“We hope that the share of the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt will reach half of the na­tional econ­omy,” said Zeng Gang, pres­i­dent of the Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Re­search In­sti­tute at East China Nor­mal Univer­sity.

Com­pared to the coastal ar­eas and other eco­nomic belts, the Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt has the largest in­land ar­eas and the great­est de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial in China. With the sup­port of the de­vel­op­ment plan, the re­gion will surely be­come an en­gine for China’s fu­ture eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

The Three Gorges Dam viewed from San­doup­ing Town in Yichang, Hubei Prov­ince. In May, the wa­ter level of the Three Gorges Reser­voir was re­duced to 145 me­ters to leave the stor­age ca­pac­ity for the up­com­ing flood sea­son. by Zheng Ji­ayu/xin­hua

On April 24, 2018, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping vis­ited the new ma­te­ri­als in­dus­trial park of Hubei Xingfa Chem­i­cals Group on the bank of the Yangtze River to in­spect the re­lo­ca­tion and re­form progress of chem­i­cal en­ter­prises as well as the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion work of the port. by Ju Peng/xin­hua

Night view of Yuzhong Penin­sula in Chongqing, China's youngest mu­nic­i­pal­ity di­rectly un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the cen­tral govern­ment. Lo­cated in the south­west­ern hin­ter­lands of China and the up­per reaches of the Yangtze River, Chongqing has de­vel­oped into a lead­ing in­land open econ­omy be­cause of the con­nec­tions fa­cil­i­tated by the river to the cen­tral and east­ern re­gions. by Liu Chan/xin­hua

An in­ter­na­tional freight train loaded with elec­tronic prod­ucts leaves Wuhan in Hubei Prov­ince for Fabryczna in Poland, and is ex­pected to ar­rive at the des­ti­na­tion 15 days later. Be­fore the launch of the Wuhan-europe freight train route, cargo go­ing from Wuhan to Poland was nor­mally trans­ported by di­rectto-sea ship­ping routes, with trans­porta­tion time of about 44 days. by Xiao Yi­jiu/xin­hua

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