Pearl River Delta set to lead pack
2009-January-12 Source: China View website
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The Pearl River Delta - at the vanguard of Chinese economic reforms that began in 1978 - will again take the lead as the country opens its markets wider to the world, the country's top economic planner said yesterday.

Under a plan issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, the delta - together with the Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions - will become "the most vigorous area in the Asia-Pacific region" by 2020.

The effort is also designed to offset the loss of some of the region's export-oriented trade by stepping up investment in innovation and creating a strong research and development hub, the NDRC said.

Guangdong Province, the biggest component of the delta, leads China's economy with an annual gross domestic product growth of 13.45 percent over the past three decades. The figure is 3.5 percentage points higher than the national average.

The economic output of Guangdong exceeded Taiwan's in 2007 for the first time, topping 3.06 trillion yuan (USD448 billion) and accounting for one-eighth of China's total.

"The combined economic output of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau makes it the fourth-largest economy in Asia after Japan, the Republic of Korea and India," NDRC Vice Director Du Ying said yesterday in an outlook report on the delta.

The region will further benefit from increasing economic transactions with Hong Kong and Macau as well as its participation in developing China-Association of Southeast Asia Nations Free Trade Area, according to the NDRC plan.

The commission, however, pointed out that many challenges must be overcome to achieve the ambitious goals:

The regional economy has been hit by falling external demand amid the global financial crisis and overcapacity in some industries.

Low value-added products and lack of innovation have blunted the delta's competitive edge.

The energy-intensive development mode is raising concern over pollution and resources.

Imbalances among rural, urban and regional development levels must be corrected.

Social development has lagged economic development, and improvement is needed in human resources, public services and culture.

Political administration and social management reforms must deepen.

The nation's top economic planner also noted that the export-oriented region has been severely hit by the financial crisis. As such, the NDRC plans to make it a "significant innovation center" in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.

In the next three years, some 100 state laboratories for engineering innovation and research and development will be set up, the NDRC said.

By 2012, three to five industrial clusters powered by high technology will go into operation, generating more than 100 billion yuan in aggregate industrial output.

The delta region is also expected to incubate three to five multinationals whose annual sales will reach 100 billion yuan by 2012.

High-tech manufacturing should generate at least 30 percent of the region's total industrial output by 2020. And cities such as Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau will form an innovation hub that will serve as the base for regional and international cooperation in science and technology.

Editor: Yan
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