Vice premier urges integration efforts
Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng has urged efforts to push forward Yangtze River Delta integration, focusing on high-quality development.
While promoting regional integration, efforts should be taken to break new ground in opening up, Han said at a meeting in Shanghai, according to Xinhua news agency.
The Yangtze River Delta region covers Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui. Last November, the integration and coordinated development of the area was made a national strategy and announced by President Xi Jinping at the opening of the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
Han stressed institutional innovation to promote high-level reform and opening-up, sharpening the region's competitive edge in international cooperation.
"Institutional innovation can push for high-level opening-up, which in turn forces us to implement higher-level reform ... It is an effective way to lift the strength of the region in international competition and collaboration," he said.
Han underlined efforts to accelerate the construction of the expanded area of the Shanghai pilot free trade zone, optimize institutions and mechanisms to stimulate innovation among market entities, make breakthroughs in some key and core technologies, and enhance the transformation of scientific and technological achievements.
He also called for the building of an integrated transport system and prioritizing environmental protection and green development.
The Yangtze River Delta region takes up a 26th of China's territory and has a sixth of its population but creates almost a quarter of the country's gross domestic product.
Last year, freight trains made a record 1,127 trips from the region to Europe and Central Asia on 14 routes, according to Shanghai Railway Bureau, a yearly increase of more than 47 percent.
To reflect its strategic importance, China last year unveiled a three-year plan for the integrated development of the region which maps out potential regional collaborations in areas such as infrastructure construction, scientific innovation, industrial development, environment and market systems.
Cities in the region have geared up for integrated development. Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong said cooperation mechanisms will be further improved in public services such as pensions, medical and health, human resources and social welfare.
Last month, the World Bank approved a US$200 million loan to support green urban investments in the region, which will help launch and operate the Shanghai Green Urban Financing and Services Co to focus on the water, wastewater and solid waste management sectors.
The project will produce solutions to help China meet its environmental investment needs and achieve its climate targets.
Apart from economic and environmental cooperation, cultural studies should also be part of the efforts to accelerate coordinated growth in the region, experts from the Shanghai Academy of Social Science said last week.