|Premier Li Keqiang examines the pole of a bangbang, a traditional porter who helps residents carry bags, at Wanzhou port in Chongqing on Sunday. (Chinanews)|
Premier Li Keqiang promised on Monday to help group 11 provincial-level entities into the largest development network in China — an economic belt along the 1,800-kilometer"golden waterway"of the Yangtze River.
It is simply a logical step to use the Yangtze to connect relatively developed east China with central and west China, Li said.
From the coastal financial center of Shanghai to the central China business center of Wuhan and to the nation's largest municipality of Chongqing in western China, the proposed Yangtze economic belt would cover one-fifth of China's territory and have a population of around 580 million.
Li discussed the plan with leaders from the 11 municipalities and provinces in Chongqing on Monday, and he believes it will generate a powerful driving force for the nation's next round of economic development.
The 11 provincial level entities in the proposed economic belt include Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities, along with Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.
Another recently proposed cross-region integration plan covers Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province in northern China.
Yang Kaizhong, a regional economy professor at Peking University, said the country will be put in a disadvantageous situation if it relies solely on the booming coastal areas for economic growth.
“The well-being of people along the Yangtze River — who number about 580 million in 2012 — is vital to the country's overall development,"he said.
Yang noted that development in that area should no longer be based on low labor cost and real estate development. Instead, it should establish a"shared market"in which all the factors of production are being exchanged freely and inter-regional connection is efficient.
He suggested setting up an all-powerful coordination bureau, which overlooks affairs that involve more than one local administration.