President Xi Jinping calls for reinforced development of Yangtze River Economic Belt

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President Xi

28th November 2023 – (Shanghai) Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to preside over a meeting of officials from the Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui provinces. He will encourage them to bolster the growth of the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YRD), one of his key initiatives, according to sources privy to the matter.

The meeting, scheduled for later this week during Xi’s three-day visit to Shanghai, will also see the attendance of ministry-level officials from Beijing. This follows a meeting of the Politburo, the 24-member decision-making body of the Chinese Communist Party, held in Beijing on Monday.

The sources indicated that President Xi would urge officials to devise new policies to enhance coordination between different regional governments and regulators, thereby accelerating economic growth in the YRD, an area containing a population of 240 million.

The integration of the YRD, a national strategy initiated by Xi in 2018, is witnessing a surge in synchronisation between Shanghai and the three neighbouring provinces. As they adjust their industrial composition, expand highways, ports, railways and bridges, and allocate land resources, the aim is to pursue high-quality growth.

The YRD is perceived as a competitor to the Greater Bay Area, which includes nine mainland Chinese cities in Guangdong province, plus Hong Kong and Macau. These two economic zones are poised to compete as they liberalise their markets to attract talent and capital.

Xi’s visit to Shanghai, the gateway city for foreign businesses and capital entering the mainland, has raised expectations among economic observers that Beijing would further open its consumer and financial markets to invigorate the world’s second-largest economy.

Shanghai continues to play a pivotal role in China’s economic landscape due to its connection with foreign markets through ports and airports, according to Ding Haifeng, a consultant at Shanghai financial advisory firm Integrity. The influx of capital and talent, he noted, would ultimately benefit the YRD’s development.

In a gesture symbolising Beijing’s support for a robust and healthy finance sector, the President visited the Shanghai Futures Exchange on Tuesday. This marked his first visit to a financial institution in Shanghai since 2018, reflecting the leadership’s aspiration to transform the city into an international financial centre.