City pivotal in Yangtze River Delta development

The region is also set to play a pivotal role in propelling China's development.

The integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta will be supported and raised to a national strategy, President Xi Jinping noted in the keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the recent China International Import Expo (November 5-10) in Shanghai.

The Yangtze River Delta region is known for its openness, economic vitality and innovation. Covering nearly 360,000 square kilometers of land, including Shanghai and three surrounding provinces — Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui — the region stands at an important intersection of the Belt and Road Initiative and Yangtze River Economic Belt. Home to abundant high-end science and innovation resources and emerging industries, the Yangtze River Delta generates over 20 percent of the national GDP.

The region is also set to play a pivotal role in propelling China’s development.

Chen Xian, professor at Antai College of Economics and Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, believes that after the elevation of the development of Yangtze River Delta as the national strategy, it’s likely that the planning of China’s second bay area economy, or the Hangzhou Bay city clusters, will be put on the agenda, following its predecessor, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

In a recent interview Chen said the key to the bay area economy lies in its agglomeration of science and innovation resources, as well as development and sources of emerging industries.

“But this is unlikely to happen in a region as vast as Yangtze River Delta,” Chen said.

“It will only be concentrated in its core area, or the most developed area, just like the urban agglomerations in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is the heart of the Pearl River Delta.”

Building a core area of high-quality integrated development in the Yangtze River Delta is a necessity. Chen noted that one of the challenges is to define the core area, which remains to be negotiated.

After this, different departments and provinces will need to coordinate and map out the plan of city clusters centered around Shanghai.

Chen also emphasized that Shanghai is irreplaceable in the Yangtze River Delta region.

“Shanghai enjoys seven advantages, which makes it unparalleled in the country,” Chen said.

As the only Chinese city that ranks among the top ten global financial centers, Shanghai has evident advantages in economy, finance, science and technology, education, talent, culture, location and urban governance.

As an agent of reform and opening up, and a pioneer in innovative development, Shanghai is destined to take the lead in the future progress of the Yangtze River Delta.

In regard to the relationship with other delta regions, like the Pearl River Delta, Chen said the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta don’t have clear divisions of work.

They are heading for the same goal, to boost technological innovation and promote emerging industries.

Shanghai is better at equipment manufacturing, while Shenzhen is considered the frontrunner of new generation of information technology.

“There’s no need to narrowly focus the two delta regions on specific areas. Both of them are drivers of China’s economic development,” Chen added.

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