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Monday, April 15, 2019, 14:47
Province still the pioneer
By Zheng Bijian
Monday, April 15, 2019, 14:47 By Zheng Bijian

Guangdong remains in the vanguard of the nation’s reform and opening-up


On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up, President Xi Jinping visited Guangdong province in October 2018 reaffirming that China will carry on with its reform and open wider to the world.

His visit was in itself very significant.

Over the past 40 years, Guangdong has stood at the forefront of the country’s reform and opening-up. It has grown from an agricultural province to an economic powerhouse of China, boasting top technological innovation indicators and accounting for one-fourth of the country’s foreign trade.

Xi’s visit speaks volumes as it signals the country’s determination to establish the southern province as the vanguard for innovation-driven, sustainable and high-quality development while further advancing reform and opening-up.

Throughout the course of reform and opening-up, the goal has been to seize different opportunities amid the changing domestic and international situations.

Now, despite the undercurrent of anti-globalization and protectionism, the world is experiencing a third round of economic globalization. In effect, China’s reform and opening-up is being carried out as part of, rather than separate from, this wave of economic globalization.

The past 40 years of economic globalization have brought development and problems alike. But the problems do not mean that the globalization is at an end. On the contrary, it means we have come to a turning point in the course of development. We should see it as a new starting point for China to advance with a new vision, as demonstrated by the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Belt and Road Initiative aims to connect the East and the West, by linking the world through land and sea routes for more convenient cooperation that brings mutual benefit to China and all the participating countries.

As the largest coastal area in South China, Guangdong has the biggest opportunities thanks to the accelerated development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. And it will certainly seize these opportunities.

Besides, the large number of Cantonese who have settled overseas will also help in this process. This is yet another advantage for Guangdong, as it will have better understanding and communication between peoples in the course of globalization.

Among Guangdong’s major tasks now, the first is to promote the construction of the Greater Bay Area, with the Pearl River Delta as the core. To this end, we should accelerate innovation, with advanced manufacturing as the mainstay, and couple it with a modern industrial system with high-end human resources and finances.

This is the direction that has been identified for Guangdong in the new era, a direction that will make the province a pioneering and efficient demonstration zone for the nation’s high-quality development. In this regard, Guangdong has already established a better foundation than other provinces in terms of its high productivity, mature market mechanism and innovation ability.

However, we should be clear about where Guangdong’s weakness lies. It still depends on others for key technologies. With this bottleneck, the potential of innovation can hardly be unleashed.

The province also needs to create a more stable, fair, transparent and predictable business environment, in which all business activities are conducted in accordance with the law, embodying ethics and discipline.

And, at the same time, more importance should be attached to the unbalanced development of urban and rural areas, especially between the western and northern areas. The development of the vast countryside in the north, though the most difficult, is where the greatest potential lies.

The author is chairman of the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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