SHANGHAI: Shanghai’s two major strategic locations, the Hongqiao International Opening-up Hub and the new Lingang area of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), are regarded as important testing areas for the city’s opening up.
Departing from the hub, the “Shanghai Express,” a China-Europe freight train, directly and indirectly serves more than 2,000 import and export companies in the Yangtze River Delta region, which encompasses the city of Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui.
As one of China’s most economically active, open and innovative regions, the Yangtze River Delta appeals to investors worldwide with multiple advantages, including a complete industrial chain, abundant talent and a sound business environment.
While chairing a symposium on advancing the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta in Shanghai on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed efforts to make new major breakthroughs in the integrated development of the region and enhance the region’s leading and exemplary role in pursuing Chinese modernization.
It has been five years since the integrated development of the delta region became a national strategy. Since then, the region has achieved practical results in areas such as infrastructure connectivity, collaborative technological innovation and economic development.
Between 2018 and 2022, the region’s GDP grew at an average annual rate of about 5.5 percent, accounting for 24 percent of the national total. The number of cities in the region with a GDP of more than one trillion yuan (about $139.28 billion) has increased from six to eight, accounting for about a third of the national total, the report recently released by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences showed.
Meanwhile, the region has achieved new results in promoting the coordinated development of pilot FTZs. For example, the Nanjing area of the Jiangsu FTZ has focused on the integrated circuit innovation ecology in recent years and built a platform of collaborative innovation of industries, universities and research institutes, radiating to five cities, including Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuxi, Suzhou and Hefei, and providing services to more than 70 companies more than 4,600 times in 2022.
The idea of introducing sci-tech innovation and advanced manufacturing enterprises along the G60 expressway, later known as the G60 Science and Technology Innovation Corridor, was proposed in Shanghai in May 2016.
Today, the corridor covers nine cities and districts, including the cities of Jiaxing, Hangzhou, Huzhou and Jinhua in Zhejiang Province, the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, as well as the cities of Hefei, Wuhu and Xuancheng in Anhui Province.
Over the past five years, it has adhered to sci-tech and institutional innovation, focusing on integrating industrial, supply, capital and human resource chains and strengthening its capability to allocate resources and production factors. It has also further expanded its influence, achieving a batch of important outcomes.
Advancing the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta is a major undertaking, and making steady progress and continuing the hard work are necessary to write new chapters of the region’s integrated development, Xi said during the symposium.
Urging the need to advance the integration of the region’s development and the high-quality development of the Belt and Road, Xi called on the region to vigorously promote high-level coordinated opening up and strengthen cross-region collaboration in sci-tech innovation and industrial innovation.
‘Making the region a community of regional development’
On May 30, 2023, Volkswagen inked an investment agreement with Hefei to build a subsidiary with an investment of around one billion euros (about $1.1 billion), which will serve as a research and development (R&D), innovation, and procurement center for new energy vehicles and intelligent connected vehicles.
According to Volkswagen Group, the company has about 90,000 employees in China, nearly a third of whom are in the delta region.
In addition to the favorable business environment, the region has provided comprehensive strengths, including integrated industrial chains, innovation elements and abundant talent resources.
By 2025, the region will gradually eliminate administrative barriers, significantly reduce institutional transaction costs, and improve the international competitiveness of the business environment to the forefront of the world, according to the three-year action plan for building a world-class business environment in the Yangtze River Delta.
The Chinese president said greater breakthroughs in key areas should be achieved to promote deeper integration and expansion into wider areas.
The commerce regulatory authorities of the Yangtze River Delta region signed a cooperation deal in Beijing in September. The deal aims to advance regional market integration and facilitate the building of a unified national market, the Ministry of Commerce said.
It is necessary to promote the cross-regional transfer of industries and rational allocation of production factors to make the Yangtze River Delta a community of regional development, Xi said.