Empowering High-Quality Development in the Yangtze River Delta Region

2020-09-30 05:36:00 Source:China Today Author:YE WEI, SHEN JIAXUAN & XU HAIYAN
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CHINESE President Xi Jinping has encouraged local talented personnel, technology experts, advanced manufacturing businesses and those involved in complete industrial chains in the Yangtze River Delta region, to explore new development paths amidst shrinking global demand. Xi was speaking at a symposium on advancing integrated development held in late August.

The exhibition hall on the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region features the World Manufacturing Convention 2019, which opens on September 20, 2019 in Hefei, capital of east China’s Anhui Province.

Stretching across Shanghai and provinces including Jiangsu, Anhui, and Zhejiang along the coastal eastern China, the Yangtze River Delta region is home to one of China’s major urban agglomerations. It plays a pivotal role in the economic growth of China and even the world.

On December 1, 2019, the central authorities of China issued a plan for integrated development of the region, making it a national strategy. Measures rolled out in the plan aim to greatly reduce administrative barriers and enhance policy coordination, enabling a free flow of production factors in a broader area. Comparative strengths of each place in the region can also be fully leveraged for common development. With a more rational division of labor, and stronger synergy, a greater boost will be given to high-quality development. A positive ripple effect will be generated across the neighboring regions, enabling more cities to share the benefits brought by the development of the Yangtze River Delta.

Common Development

Currently, restructuring industrial chains and transforming industries across the world are presenting opportunities for leapfrog development. The Yangtze River Delta region is taking the lead in building common development based on interconnectivity.

Shanghai is playing a leading role in the process and has made solid progress in coordinated industrial development and regional innovation. It is accelerating the construction of some major industrial projects that have a promising prospect and will generate widespread benefits. They will boost the synergy of the supply chains in the region and underpin high-quality development.

In July, the Shanghai Electric Group, a high-end equipment manufacturer, completed the construction of a branch of its research arm, the Central Academe, in Nantong, neighboring Jiangsu Province. The branch is the company’s first regional headquarters built outside Shanghai. Leveraging regional research and industry resources, it will boost industry capacities in both Shanghai and Nantong. Shanghai Electric Group, the leading Chinese industrial manufacturer, claimed a spot on the list of top 500 largest manufacturing companies in the world and Fortune China 500. It ranked 100th among the 2018 Top 250 International Contractors released by the U.S. trade magazine Engineering News-Record. The value of its brand was estimated to reach RMB 81.28 million in 2019. Apart from the regional headquarters in Nantong, the company has planned 10 bases for advanced manufacturing in the Yangtze River Delta region. More than 50 percent of the company’s suppliers are located in the region. Taking Wuxi as an example, more than 500 companies there are long-term suppliers for Shanghai Electric Group.

As a high-end equipment manufacturer, the Shanghai Electric Group sets its focus on energy equipment, industrial equipment, and integrated services. The company is committed to offering global clients green, smart, and inter-connected technology, along with service solutions. Chairman and CEO Zheng Jianhua said the company would build big innovation bases in the Yangtze River Delta region in the near future.

“We will increase the proportion of our suppliers from 50 percent to 70 percent in the region. We will also scale up inputs in the construction of research and development bases in the region,” said Zheng, adding that the efforts would facilitate the building of an innovation chain in the Yangtze River Delta region, and enhance the company’s capacity for innovation.

Shanghai-based chip maker Huahong invested US $10 billion in building a chip manufacturing base in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. Huahong is now expanding the production capacity and preparing the manufacturing base for upcoming demands brought by mobile communications, the Internet of Things, smart home appliances, and new-energy vehicles. As one of the most economically dynamic regions in China, the Yangtze River Delta region is spearheading advanced manufacturing in sectors like bio-pharmaceuticals, integrated circuit, and high-end equipment.

Seizing the opportunity brought by integrated development in the Yangtze River Delta region, Huahong is expanding its influence in the neighboring areas. In September 2019, its branch in Wuxi was put into operation, enhancing its production capacity as well as the competitiveness of the semi-conductor producing industry in Wuxi.

Focusing on key technologies and products, Shanghai is committed to making technological breakthroughs. This move will lay a solid foundation for industrial innovation and high-quality development of the manufacturing sector across China.

Building World-Class Industrial Clusters

The Yangtze River Delta region is China’s leader in the auto making industry. With a solid industrial foundation, the automotive sector is boosting integrated development throughout the region.

According to the plan for its integrated development, the Yangtze River Delta region will accelerate the development of its industrial chain for smart vehicles, and take the lead in testing such vehicles and commercializing unmanned driving technology.

The Shanghai innovation center for intelligent connected vehicles (ICVs), a government-supported initiative, has issued licenses for testing ICVs to Nanjing-based self-driving developer Allride and Chinese car maker Geely. The results of the testing can be observed across the entire region. In July, the innovation center introduced a grading system for ICV testing sites, and also expanded its technical services to places that include Suzhou, Hefei, and Shaoxing.

The integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region also brought opportunities to SAIC Motor. Wang Xiaoqiu, president of the venture, said the company is leading the planning efforts to build a national ICV innovation center in Shanghai.

“We will focus on our industrial strengths and start from Shanghai to build multiple demonstration centers across the Yangtze River Delta region where Robotaxi, self-driving in enclosed areas, unmanned buses for fixed routes and other application scenarios will become reality. We will accelerate the commercialization of innovations in ICVs and facilitate the building of smart transport in the Yangtze River Delta region,” said Wang.

The aviation industry is another driving force for integrated development. In June, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. (COMAC) initiated cooperation along the entire industrial chain at a meeting held in Songjiang District of Shanghai. This is the starting point of the “G60 technological innovation corridor,” which represents a group of economically developed cities along the G60 expressway connecting Shanghai and Kunming in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. Nine cities in the Yangtze River Delta region lie along the corridor, which features free flow of production factors for technological innovation and has the potential to boost the domestic market system. More than 1,000 companies have been included in the industrial chain of COMAC, over 100 of which are recognized as key partners. The industrial chain will improve the overall competitiveness and global influence of the civil aviation industrial cluster based on the G60 technological innovation corridor.

Over the past year, since the plan was implemented, more than 30 items of institutional innovation have been rolled out, over 120 cooperation agreements signed, over 60 cooperation platforms built, and more than 50 plans and policies introduced. Integrated development of the region is now being fast tracked.

Integrating Resources

Last October, China initiated a master plan for building a demonstration zone of integrated green development in the Yangtze River Delta region on around 660-square-kilometer of land. The aim is to boost green and coordinated development in Qingpu District, Shanghai, Wujiang District of Shuzhou City, Jiangsu Province, and Jiashan County, Zhejiang Province. New kinds of technology and business models are being piloted in the zone to create an innovative world-class ecosystem. The zone is also exploring effective institutional arrangements focusing on administration, ecological protection, and free flow of production factors, and jointly working on a new-type governance model conducive to free-flow of production factors and division of labor.

Integration of resources and innovation on institutions will help improve efficiency in the process of integrated development. Wang Zhen, vice president of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the Yangtze River Delta region should strengthen regional cooperation based on effective division of labor. To establish a new cooperation mechanism, a group of platforms under unified operation should be built based on common demands in exploring technological breakthroughs across the Yangtze River Delta region, said Wang. It is necessary to establish foundations, alliances, and special teams focusing on specific technological breakthroughs by integrating resources in leading companies, state-level academies, universities, and state-level engineering centers, he said, calling on big companies to play a leading role in innovation.

The Alibaba Group is taking an active part in integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region based on its strengths in the digital economy.

“We have made preliminary research progress in public transport interconnectivity for 10 major cities in the region, blockchain-based juridical services, and digital economy in the Yangtze River Delta region,” said Tao Xuefei, vice president of the e-commerce giant. The company pledged to play a bigger role in advancing the new infrastructure initiative, and inter-regional coordinated governance.

The alliance of developers for the demonstration zone of integrated green development in the Yangtze River Delta region was established in late August in Shanghai. The Alibaba Group is a member of the alliance.

“The alliance, located in one of the most developed regions in China, aims to incubate great innovative businesses relying on locally available resources,” said Wang Kai, president of China Academy of Urban Planning and Design.

To further boost development, more innovative measures are in the pipeline, including a mechanism enabling extensive consultation and joint contribution for major projects and a system recognizing the results of talented personnel evaluation across the Yangtze River Delta region. 


YE WEI is a reporter with Xinmin Evening News. SHEN JIAXUAN and XU HAIYAN are reporters with Xinhua Daily.

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