Gansu placing emphasis on economy
A view of Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, from the city's White Pagoda Mountain Park. The Zhongshan Bridge, dubbed the "first bridge on the Yellow River", sits in the middle. [Ma Jian/for China Daily]
Northwest China's Gansu province has made great progress in its economic development and social benefits, and provincial authorities have ambitious plans to build it into a stronger economy in the next five years.
During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), Gansu maintained rather stable economic growth. Its GDP rose to 901.7 billion yuan ($141 billion) last year－up from 655.7 billion in 2015, an average annual increase of 5.5 percent, according to the province's work report released in late January.
Great changes in the province's economic and social outlook have occurred since the 18th Communist Party of China's National Congress in 2012, said Yin Hong, Party chief of Gansu.
"The province has completely removed its poverty label, with 5.52 million people having shaken off poverty, and their per capita disposable income has seen an annual growth of 19.8 percent. We have eliminated absolute poverty," he said.
Gansu achieved an optimized economy and victory over poverty because of the government's efforts. To help formerly impoverished people enjoy a higher quality of life, the province has invested about 83.7 billion yuan over the past five years－with an annual increase of 24.5 percent－in efforts such as getting school dropouts to return to campuses and renovating dilapidated houses.
Village residents are all covered under the province's healthcare plan, and nearly 499,000 formerly impoverished people have been relocated thanks to the government's financial investment.
Yin said that with all the formerly impoverished residents in rural areas being lifted out of poverty, Gansu will focus on rural vitalization and speeding up the modernization of agriculture during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).
He said one of the province's long-term goals is to carry out its campaign to establish a modern system of production and management for agricultural development.
The campaign, launched in April, aims to raise the output value of the province's agricultural industry to 545.2 billion yuan in 2023 from the current 324 billion yuan, a growth target of 68.3 percent.
"We will also prioritize stabilizing and increasing people's incomes in rural areas by helping them land jobs and giving them policy support," Yin said. "It's vital to give them help, whether it be financially or through policy, to prevent them from returning to poverty."
In addition, rural vitalization is key to the province's work this year as it aims to develop high-quality and efficient agricultural industries and help farmers earn a better living, he said.
The province will channel resources to renovate wasteland and alkaline land. It will transform about 2,300 square kilometers of such lands into high-quality farmland this year and produce about 12 billion kilograms of grain, securing food safety, according to the province's work report.
Gansu has also made caring for its ecological environment a priority in recent years.
For example, Qilian Mountains, once damaged by improper mining, has recovered its beauty because of the province's campaign to improve the environment.
About 144 mines at the mountain reserve have been closed, and 25 tourism-related projects were improved. Moreover, herdsmen and farmers at the reserve's core zone were relocated to reduce damage caused by human activities.
Meanwhile, Gansu has lofty aspirations to build itself into a place that is more livable, with a stronger economy and better social benefits.
The province will focus on high technology development, rural vitalization and public service this year, the first of the 14th Five-Year Plan period.
It has set a GDP growth target of 6.5 percent this year, as well as a relatively low unemployment rate－about 6 percent－to secure a healthy and stable social environment, according to the work report.
To help unleash the province's potential in economic growth, Yin has emphasized streamlining administrative procedures, thus offering a better business environment for company operators.
Yin said that the business environment reflects the province's comprehensive capabilities, which are key in vitalizing the market.
He said that to build an open business environment, it's important to reduce administrative procedures while enhancing official supervision.
He also required the establishment of a mechanism to make official information more available to the public, improving people's lives and facilitating business operations.
In regard to long-term development over the 14th Five-Year Plan, it will focus on producing a batch of high technology companies to make innovation the new driver of the province's future growth.
For example, it will implement more friendly policies to attract talent and produce about 10 more key high-tech companies whose total revenue is expected to exceed 5 billion yuan per year over the period.
Some infrastructure construction campaigns involving highways, air routes and roads connecting rural areas will be carried out. Further, the province will make ecological philosophy a priority in its economic development by adding green industries.
Enhancing social benefits is also vital to the province's development over the plan period.
"Gansu so far has entered a new era of building a socialist China, and we will carry out our campaign focused on high-quality development. We will pay more attention to environmental protection and systematic management of the province to improve people's quality of life and build the province into a livable and affluent place," Yin said.