China's "specialized towns" gain traction amid rural revitalization

(Xinhua) 09:44, May 05, 2023

TAIYUAN, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Behind a new production line in Huairen City, about 30,000 pieces of porcelain tableware are made every day. This is the start of their journey toward European and American dining tables.

Located in the northern province of Shanxi, Huairen is a county-level city with little publicity in China, but that does not hinder the growing overseas popularity of Huairen porcelain.

Shang Jie is one of the more than 40,000 workers employed in Huairen's sprawling porcelain industry. Her company has formed stable partnerships with Walmart and Target to supply tableware.

"Both my husband and I work in the porcelain factory. Together we can earn about 15,000 yuan (about 2,180 U.S. dollars) a month. That's quite decent in a small town like Huairen," said Shang.

Boasting a long history of porcelain making and a yearly output of 3 billion pieces, Huairen is one of the growing number of "specialized towns" lying at the forefront of China's drive to boost development in small towns and the vast countryside.

Specialized towns refer to towns, counties or county-level cities that have formed an industrial cluster in a particular field. In China, the concept was first brought up in the 1990s by the province of Guangdong to boost urbanization and industrialization in rural areas.

Over the past decades, the take-off of specialized towns has contributed significantly to the economic ascendancy of China's coastal region.

As China stresses urban-rural integration and coordinated regional development, these industrial towns have again risen to the fore for their roles in vitalizing the rural economy.

Zhejiang Province, a manufacturing heartland in east China, has named six groups of provincial-level specialized towns since 2015. The latest group recognized last December features industries such as automobile, intelligent equipment, and semiconductors.

The province, a private economy powerhouse, plans to have about 100 specialized towns by 2025, with more than 4,000 high-tech enterprises and over 150 billion yuan in tax revenues.

Inland provinces are catching up. Shanxi has named ten provincial-level specialized towns dedicated to the production of glasswork, porcelain, flange, and others. It aims to bring the figure to 30 by 2025.

"Specialized towns have played a major role in fostering economic advantages of counties and promoting their industrial transformation and rural revitalization," said Pan Haiyan, head of Shanxi's department of industry and information technology.

The coal-rich province has allocated 500 million yuan to foster leading industries in its specialized towns this year.

"Moving forward, we must deepen innovation-driven development in the specialized towns, strengthen their links with research institutes and increase investment in technological upgrade and research," said Zhang Jun, another official of the department.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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