BEIJING, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Yangtze River Delta, one of the most vibrant, open and innovative city clusters in China, has reaped major benefits and matured into a pacesetter of high-quality development from its integrated development -- which was elevated as a national strategy by Chinese President Xi Jinping five years ago.
Originating on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Yangtze River is China's longest waterway, running more than 6,300 km through 11 provincial-level regions before flowing into the East China Sea.
A number of the country's economic powerhouses, megacities and major rice-producing areas are located along the river basin, making the Yangtze River Delta region, encompassing the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui and Shanghai Municipality, a dynamic growth engine for the world's second-largest economy.
With insight into the great potential of the region's coordinated development, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, announced the decision to make the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region a national strategy in November 2018.
"We will make it a national strategy and implement our new development philosophy in real earnest. We will build a modern economic system, and adopt higher standards for reform and opening-up," Xi said while addressing the opening ceremony of the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai five years ago. He added that the region will develop in tandem with the Belt and Road Initiative, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development area, the Yangtze River Economic Belt and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and will help improve the overall layout of China's reform and opening-up.
The Yangtze River Delta region, taking up only 4 percent of China's land area, contributes about 25 percent of China's total GDP.
Over the past five years, Xi has visited the Yangtze River Delta many times, presided over a series of relevant meetings, and given key guidance at the critical junctures in the region's integration path.
While chairing a symposium on advancing the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta in Shanghai on Thursday, Xi stressed efforts to achieve major breakthroughs in the region's integrated development and enhance the region's leading and exemplary role in pursuing Chinese modernization.
The overall strength and comprehensive competitiveness of the Yangtze River Delta continue to rank among the top in the country, Xi said.
As a major automobile production base in China, the Yangtze River Delta has taken the lead in the establishment of a modern industrial system and in the industrial transformation and upgrading.
Now every 10 seconds, a new energy vehicle (NEV) rolls off the production lines in the region.
With the chip and software sourced from Shanghai, batteries from Jiangsu, die-casting machines from Zhejiang, an NEV factory in the delta region can acquire all auto parts within a 4-hour drive.
Integration can be easily observed in almost every sector. From microchips to large aircraft, and from cloud computing to the Internet of Things, the four places are teaming up to promote further integration of industrial chains, under the coordinated, complementary development philosophy.
Eying high-quality, sustainable and long-term development, Xi has, on multiple occasions, highlighted innovation in the region's development blueprint.
At a symposium on advancing integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta in 2020, Xi noted that the region should rise to assume the role of a trailblazer in China's technological and industrial innovations.
He said that Shanghai and the entire delta region should not only provide quality products but also serve as a source of high-level technologies to support China's high-quality development.
At Thursday's symposium, Xi, again, stressed the need to strengthen cross-region collaboration in sci-tech innovation and industrial innovation.
The region is urged to become a source of sci-tech innovation by integrating sci-tech innovation forces and advantageous resources across regions and departments, and participate in international sci-tech cooperation to create a globally competitive ecosystem for innovation.
The deepening integration and rising innovation strength are enhancing the region's attractiveness to investors worldwide.
In May, Siemens launched its Yangtze River Delta AI lab in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.
Zhu Xiaoxun, head of Siemens Corporate Technology China, said the Yangtze River Delta region has unique advantages in resource sharing, talent cultivation and aggregated innovation, and is becoming an important engine for the high-quality development of China's economy.
Boosted by the strong growth momentum, the industrial scale of the integrated circuit industry in the region now accounts for 60 percent of the national total, while the scale of biomedicine and artificial intelligence industries respectively takes up one-third of the country's total.
"Against the backdrop of sluggish global economic recovery, China's high-quality development will not only serve the country's internal need but also benefit the world," said Quan Heng, a researcher with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
Scientific innovation requires international collaboration and regional coordination and what President Xi has underlined has also injected more confidence into foreign enterprises, who are set to gain more dividends from the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta, Quan added.
From infrastructure to public services and from industrial clusters to innovation synergy, the Yangtze River Delta has never been as close-knit as it is today, focusing on the keywords of integration and high quality outlined by Xi.
To facilitate the region's high-quality integration, meetings are convened annually where key officials of Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui meet to review achievements, draft plans and seek solutions to existing bottlenecks.
Coordinated efforts in the region's green development are a vivid example of such a mechanism and have borne fruitful and tangible results.
Over the past years, China has taken a series of measures to protect the Yangtze River, including removing the chemical enterprises situated along the river, restoring the river shoreline, upgrading sewage treatment, and imposing a 10-year fishing ban along the river's main streams and major tributaries.
The number of the rare Yangtze finless porpoises, a barometer of water quality in the Yangtze River basin, had increased to 1,249 in 2022 from 1,012 in 2017.
On Thursday, Xi reiterated that more efforts should be made to strengthen joint protection and governance of the region's ecological environment.
Improved connectivity within the region, like high-speed railways, expressways and metro systems, has significantly facilitated the flow of capital, talent and resources.
In June, a new metro line in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, was officially put into operation. Its direct transferring service with Shanghai's Line 11 allows travelers to enjoy a convenient trip between the two cities.
In September, the second intercity high-speed railway between Jiangsu's capital city of Nanjing and Shanghai also began operations, and it is expected to unleash the growth potential of more county-level areas in the region.
On Thursday, Xi urged enhancing the alignment of the standards of transportation networks within the region to further improve infrastructure connectivity.
Highlighting the major progress that has been achieved since the strategy of the region's integrated development was put forward, Xi has also charted the course for future development of the region.
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, he said. ■