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East China's Zhejiang publishes first regulation on 'characteristic townships'

By Bai Yuanqi (People's Daily)    13:20, April 12, 2018


Foreigners visiting China often get stunned at the vast supply of cheap-but-quality goods, which largely come from hundreds of characteristic townships, dotting around the country especially near industrial hubs, such as leather villages in the Pearl River Delta.

China's costal Zhejiang Province, which plays a leading role in pushing forward the township economy, became the first to issue a guidance on characteristic townships' development, prodding it into a healthy and competent shape, according to local authorities.

"Zhejiang's version of characteristic townships draws its inspiration from abroad such as Davos of Swiss, Greenwich Hedge Fund Town in the US, and Provence of France," said Weng Jianrong, a vice director of Zhejiang Provincial Development and Reform Commission.

The new economic pattern is an exploration of the supply-side reform and has attracted wide attention as a new mode of relationship between the government and market, experts said.

Yet the exuberance factors that stoke economic booms in the specialized towns also lead to risk, as large-scale copycatting discourages innovation.

The new policy aims to tighten the scrutiny of applications for townships and to cultivate the mechanism by which pioneers' models get patent protection and followers are active to experiment, said the Zhejiang provincial planning office in charge of the characteristic townships' development.

Under the plan, specialized townships will be divided into three categories: knowledge-service-oriented towns, primarily focused on finance and information technology, providing consultancy and technical support; manufacturing and bricks-and-mortar services towns focusing on products like auto parts and medical treatment; and towns focusing on customer experiences, including spa villages and themed sightseeing spots.

In a bid to support industries and curb real-estate speculation, Zhejiang government also requires each town to have a physical industrial presence. The way local officials use townships to reach GDP target in regardless of market rules will be restricted.

Local authorities also stress "unique features" as the key job of townships' development, which means that even if two townships feature the same industries, they must have different positions and focuses.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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