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English>>China Politics

Xi pushes Heilongjiang growth

(China Daily)    08:50, March 08, 2016

President Xi Jinping attends a panel discussion held by the Heilongjiang delegation in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing onMonday. LAN HONGGUANG/ XINHUA NEWS AGENCY

When 32-year-old national lawmaker Liu Lei, of the Hezhe ethnic group in Heilongjiang province, met President Xi Jinping on Monday morning, she was surprised by how well he knows her culture.

"He mentioned to me a song of our ethnic group, and told me he can even hum its tune. The president also knows about our fishing tradition," said Liu, a primary school teacher, after a panel discussion on the Government Work Report that Xi also attended.

The Hezhe, with a population of about 5,000, is one of the smallest ethnic groups in China.

It has become standard for top leaders to join panel discussions held by some delegations during the annual sessions of the top legislature and advisory body, to listen to opinions from the grassroots.

While the suggestions offered by Liu were about how to improve the livelihood of ethnic groups, the panel discussions focused on how to shore up the province's economy, which has been hampered by diminishing resources and a slump in global oil prices.

Heilongjiang province, which borders Russia's Far East, used to be the country's economic powerhouse — together with Jilin and Liaoning provinces, all in Northeast China — due to its abundant energy resources and manufacturing industries.

But it has been hit by overcapacity and outdated technology.

The province's 5.7 percent GDP growth rate last year ranked among the slowest nationwide.

Its Daqing oilfield, China's biggest and a pillar enterprise for Heilongjiang, has been cutting output due to the global oil price plunge, according to Jiang Wanchun, an oilfield official.

While listening to lawmakers from the energy and mining industries, Xi encouraged the province to embrace the market and speed up technological innovation to spur growth.

The province must make the best use of its advantages and blaze new trails to revitalize its economy, the president said.

He also called on the province to cultivate additional qualified officials and improve the rule of law to create an environment that is conducive to social and economic development.

Governor Lu Hao said Heilongjiang has made headway in its grain industry, whose output accounts for a tenth of the country's total. Efforts have also been made in high-tech and financial sectors.

"We have felt the pinch of an economic downturn, but we are also finding new growth points," Lu said during the discussion.

Lu said the province will speed up several major transportation projects.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Bianji)

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