Pursuing a New Approach to Industrialization and Urbanization in Sichuan Province

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2012-10-08 14:56
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I. The historic process and major significance of new approaches to industrialization and urbanization

Industrialization and urbanization are important indicators of the level of modernization in a country or region. Since the institution of the reform and opening up policy, and especially since the launch of the major campaign to develop China’s western region, the pace of industrialization and urbanization in Sichuan Province has increased significantly, and the province has gone on to make huge achievements in its drive for modernization.

Industrialization and urbanization are major tasks that Sichuan must complete in order to achieve modernization. Only by making huge efforts to promote industrialization and urbanization will we be able to develop a modern industrial economy that accords to the vision of turning Sichuan into a model for economic development in western China, establish a scientific and rational urban system that is geared towards modern industrial development, thereby completing Sichuan’s transformation from a large economy in western China to a powerhouse of the national economy. As judged by GDP per capita, the proportion of non-agricultural employment, and the urbanization rate, we can see that while China as a whole has entered the intermediate to advanced stages of industrialization, Sichuan still remains in the intermediate stage. Despite this, however, the gap between Sichuan and other parts of the country in terms of the level of industrialization and urbanization has stopped expanding and started to narrow since the implementation of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), indicating that Sichuan has entered a period of accelerated industrialization and urbanization.

On December 25, 2011, a ceremony was held in Chengdu, Sichuan Province to launch the construction of the Tianfu New Area. The concurrent launch of 150 major construction projects indicated that the development of the Tianfu New Area had officially gone from the planning phase to the all-out construction phase. According to plans, the Tianfu New Area will mainly cover parts of the cities of Chengdu, Meishan, and Ziyang in Sichuan Province, with a total area of 1,578 square kilometers, approximately 650 square kilometers of long-term urban development land, and a planned population of 6 to 6.5 million people. Sichuan has plans to establish the Tianfu New Area as an internationally-oriented, modern urban area which focuses on modern manufacturing, clusters high-end service industries together, and which is an ideal place to work, live and do business. Efforts to integrate the development of a modern industrial area, a modern residential area, and a modern urban area will see the emergence of the strongest and most vibrant economic growth pole for both Sichuan Province and the whole of western China. / Xinhua (photo by Xue Yubin)

At a crucial juncture in the acceleration of industrialization and urbanization, different development paths and modes are certain to bring about very different effects. Domestic and foreign experiences tell us that if industrialization gets too far ahead of urbanization, the resulting lacking in urban amenities will lead to problems such as traffic congestion, resource shortages, environmental pollution, and soaring property prices. On the other hand, if urbanization gets too far ahead of industrialization, the absence of the necessary industrial foundations will lead to the “hollowing out” of industries, inadequate employment, and a number of social problems such as the emergence of slums.

Therefore, industrialization and urbanization must be made to supplement and interact with each other. This interaction fully embodies the concept of overall consideration, which represents the fundamental approach of the Scientific Outlook on Development. With a firm commitment to the main theme of scientific development and the main thread of accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development, it is essential that we plan and coordinate new approaches to industrialization and urbanization, as this is the only way that we will be able to achieve the integrated development of urban and rural areas and make their synchronized modernization a reality.

II. The features and tasks of our new approach to industrialization

Being different from traditional approaches to industrialization, China’s new approach to industrialization is characterized by the high contribution of science and technology, good economic efficiency, low resource consumption and environmental pollution, and the full utilization of human resource advantages. At present, scientific advances are promoting the rapid transformation of industry. Under these circumstances, our approach to industrialization should be innovation-driven, green, low-carbon, high-end, open to cooperation, and high-paced. To do this, we must promote the deep integration of IT with the industrialization process; accelerate the building of a resource-conserving and environmentally friendly society; promote traditional industries and emerging industries to supplement each other; utilize the internationalization of production activities; and make full use of the favorable conditions and advantages of Sichuan Province.

We need to correctly determine the specialization and the positioning of our industry so as to develop a modern industrial system with regional competitiveness. By continuing to make use of our advantages and meet the needs of the market, we will strive to develop a clean, safe, and modern industrial system that is characterized by an optimal structure, advanced technology, high added value, and a strong capacity to create jobs. With regard to industrial specialization and cooperation, by making use of our available resources and industrial base, we need to develop bases in western China for the exploitation of strategic resources, modern processing and manufacturing, the industrialization of scientific and technological innovations, and the intensive processing of agricultural products. The development of these bases will allow us to participate in and integrate with the global industrial chain. In regard to the structure of primary, secondary and tertiary industries, we need to lay emphasis on the core position of secondary industry, especially the manufacturing industry, and create a pattern of development whereby high-tech industries play a guiding role, basic and manufacturing industries act as a foundation, and service industries are developed in an all-round manner, thereby promoting the balanced development of the three industrial sectors. In addition to developing capital and technology-intensive industries, we must, in light of the pressure to create jobs we are currently facing, lay emphasis on the development of labor-intensive industries.

We need to vigorously develop strategic emerging industries and competitive industries that display local characteristics, with a view to significantly enhancing our industrial economic strength. Our efforts to promote the optimization and upgrading of Sichuan’s industrial structure must be focused on the development of strategic emerging industries and industries that display local characteristics. We need to plan and launch a number of major resource exploitation projects in light of our ample hydropower resources and reserves of vanadium, titanium, natural gas, and rare earth. Moreover, we also need to carry out the conversion or intensive processing of these resources locally, with a view to creating an important national base for the exploitation of strategic resources. In addition, we also need to be selective in the development of strategic emerging industries. With clearly defined targets, we must seize the edge in future development by actively developing industries such as next-generation IT, new energy, high-end equipment manufacturing, new materials, energy conservation and environmental protection, and biological industries. We need to nurture blockbuster products in strategic emerging industries and industries that display local characteristics, and focus on the building of brand names. We should rely on blockbuster products and renowned brands to strengthen enterprises, bolster industries, and expand markets, thereby enhancing the vitality and competitiveness of our industry.

We should strive to promote industrial clustering in order to bring about the concentrated and intensive development of our industrial economy. As the major trend in modern industrial development, industrial clustering is conducive to raising efficiency in the use of funds and resources. Therefore, we need to focus on the development of a number of industrial clusters that exhibit a significant degree of concentration, close links between industries, and a high level of intensiveness. Through the development of industrial parks, we must nurture a number of development zones at the national and provincial levels, and establish a number of industrial clusters that demonstrate distinctive characteristics. Moreover, we should stress the role of key enterprises in integrating with and promoting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. By promoting cooperation between upstream and downstream enterprises, we will build industrial chains that involve a clear division of labor and collaboration between each link. On these value chains, the larger companies will drive forward the development of smaller companies, thus leading to the formation of industrial clusters. Small and medium-sized enterprises with related products should cluster together and pursue large-scale development so as to create distinctive products and regional brands through joint efforts.

We need to actively accommodate the relocation of industries from other parts of China and from abroad, so as to promote the rapid development of related industries. At present, the clustering of factors is more beneficial to the industrial development of Sichuan than the diffusion of factors, which means that the introduction of industries is our primary driver for development. Therefore, we must target our efforts towards the introduction of leading industries and leading enterprises, and rely on this as a means of stimulating the development of relevant businesses and constantly improving our industrial chains. We need to promote the rapid development of our electronics and information technology, auto-making, and new energy industries through the introduction of high-end companies. In the introduction of business and investment, it is also important that our limited land, energy, labor, and environmental resources go towards the introduction of major projects, so as to prevent ordinary industries from occupying the development space of priority industries. We should also promote cooperation between different regions within Sichuan Province. Support should be provided for the integration of resources between different cities and prefectures, so as to promote the development of enclave industrial parks. Efforts should also be made to improve the investment environment in the province. By vigorously developing modern logistics and taking practical steps to lighten the burden on businesses, we should work to lower the production and operating costs of companies in the province and strive to make Sichuan a more attractive place for investment.

We need to strengthen independent innovation, energy conservation, and emissions reduction in order to accelerate the transformation of our pattern of industrial development. The role of science and technology as a foundation and engine for industrialization should be emphasized and brought into full play. To do this, we should promote industrialization through scientific and technological advances while seeking to avoid low-quality industrialization. Given that the majority of Sichuan’s industries are traditional industries, we need to lay greater emphasis on technological upgrading to revive these industries. In particular, we need to make use of our technological and industrial advantages in national defense industries, and promote the integration of cutting-edge technology in the military and civilian sectors. By giving full play to our existing scientific, technological and industrial foundations in the manufacturing of solar power, wind power, and nuclear power facilities, we should strive to make breakthroughs in the development of new energies and seize the advantage in this sector. We also need to place a high level of emphasis on energy conservation and emissions reduction, promote the application of low-carbon technologies, and work vigorously to develop circular economies. At the same time, efforts need to be enhanced to eliminate backward production capacity and free up resources and environmental capacity for the development of competitive industries and emerging industries.

III. The needs and requirements of our new approach to urbanization

Our new approach to urbanization is driven by our new approach to industrialization. This approach to urbanization is characterized by the comprehensive and balanced development of different regions, the population, economy, society, resources, and the environment. Therefore, we need to attach greater importance to building up the driving force behind urban development, which involves promoting the simultaneous development of modern industry, modern agriculture, and modern service industries, so as to achieve integration and interaction between modern cities and industry. We need to attach greater importance to coordination between different regions, which involves scientifically designing the layout and graded structure of the urban system, so as to achieve the balanced development of large, medium-sized, and small cities as well as small towns. We need to attach greater importance to overall planning for urban and rural areas, which involves giving full play to the role of urbanization as a stimulus for industrialization and agricultural modernization, so as to promote integrated economic and social development in urban and rural areas. We also need to attach greater importance to enhancing the quality of urban areas, which involves enhancing urban functions, improving living environments, and increasing the overall carrying capacity of urban areas, so as to achieve sustainable urban development.

We need to develop a scientific urban system and comprehensively strengthen urban planning. We must take into full account the position and role of Sichuan Province in the overall development of western China when positioning our urban system. We need to tailor the structure of the urban system to the urbanization of residents by scientifically forecasting the future population capacity of super-large cities, regional central cities, county seats, and small towns. In particular, we need to be aware of the trends in the local and non-local urbanization of residents, and take caution not to act rashly in building new villages or expanding small towns. We also need to tailor the layout of the urban system to the layout of productive forces. To do this, we must place our urban development on an industrial foundation by fully considering the division of development priority zones, the regional industrial layout, and the location of important transit lines. In the development of the urban system, we need to make city clusters the main form of urbanization, lay emphasis on the interactive development of various large and medium-sized cities within the same economic zone, and avoid the homogenization of cities and the repetition of industrial structures within individual regions. In an effort to strengthen the strategic and guiding role of urban planning and make plans more oriented to the future, we need to draw up plans for the development of the urban system within the province, and step up our efforts to compile plans for the development of four major city clusters and regional central cities in Sichuan.

We should make efforts to develop large and medium-sized cities and city clusters in order to enhance comprehensive regional competitiveness. In line with the principles of overall planning, rational distribution, improved functions, and using large cities to drive the development of small cities, we need to lay emphasis on the development of large cities and regional central cities, and promote the coordinated development of large, medium-sized, and small cities as well as towns. We need to accelerate the development of large and medium-sized cities and actively form city clusters. In doing so, priority should be given to the development of a city cluster on the Chengdu Plain, which will see the integrated development of Chengdu and the cities of Deyang, Mianyang, and Leshan. We also need to accelerate the development of a city cluster in southern Sichuan by promoting the integrated development of Zigong, Luzhou, Neijiang, and Yibin, so as to develop an important hub of large cities in western China. In addition, we should also make active efforts to build city clusters around regional central cities, such as a city cluster in the northeast of Sichuan and the Panzhihua-Xichang city cluster. Moreover, we need to promote the intensive development of small towns, support the rapid development of central towns where conditions permit, and develop a number of towns oriented towards commerce, tourism, and industry that display distinctive local characteristics.

We need to carry out high-level planning for the development of new urban areas in order to expand the boundaries of urban development. The Tianfu New Area represents the most significant strategic project in Sichuan for the next phase of the drive to develop western China. Given its important status, the area has already been integrated into the national plan for the development of the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Zone. We will step up efforts to formulate plans, promptly launch start-up areas, so as to create an “industrial Chengdu.” On the basis of overall urban plans, we need to make scientific plans for new urban areas to promote the expansion of towns and cities in an orderly manner in order to make up for the functional inadequacies and developmental limitations of existing urban areas. We also need to attach great importance to the renovation of old urban areas. The renovation of villages-in-the-city and urban-rural fringes should be integrated into overall urban planning, development, and management, and the development of infrastructure and public service facilities should be promoted in a coordinated fashion, so that the functions of new and old urban areas are able to complement each other.

We need to improve urban functions and infrastructure in order to increase the overall carrying capacity of urban areas. We need to continue to put people first in our urban development efforts. Top priority should be given to making cities amicable places to live and meeting the daily needs of residents, so as to ensure that our cities are good places to live in addition to being good places to work and do business. We also need to make the appropriately future-oriented plans and accelerate the development of municipal facilities and public service facilities that correspond to the scale of our cities. In particular, we need to strengthen the development of urban lifeline systems for the prevention and mitigation of natural disasters, so as to enhance the capacity of our cities to respond to major disasters. In addition to making urban areas more attractive, we must also work to make them more prosperous by retaining enough space for the development of consumer service industries related to commerce, culture and catering. We need to lay emphasis on nurturing a prevalent commercial and living atmosphere, so as to build up consumer popularity and foster business through the prosperous development of the modern service industry. In addition, we also need to integrate low-income housing and resettlement housing projects into overall urban layout plans. In principle, the planning for these housing projects should be integrated into plans for the development of housing for sale on the market, so as to ensure that rural migrant workers are able to integrate into urban communities and cities more thoroughly and rapidly.

We need to lay emphasis on the characteristics of urban development, and focus on building the image and enhancing the quality of urban areas. When drawing up plans for urban development, we need to include natural, historical and cultural elements, preserve historical heritage, build the character of urban areas, develop cultural, industrial, and environmental characteristics, thereby enhancing the quality of urban areas. Cultural characteristics are the source of urban characteristics. We need to promote the in-depth integration of urban development and culture, strengthen the protection of urban cultural heritage, and carry forward the “memories” of our cities. Industrial characteristics are the foundation of urban development. We need to integrate urban characteristics with leading industries in order to make our cities more renowned and enhance their influence. Environmental characteristics determine the quality of a city. We need to make full use of geographic features and ecological environments, fully protect natural resources such as mountains, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and forests, and integrate these resources into our urban planning. By doing so, we will be able to create distinctive environmental characteristics and make our cities better places to live and work.

IV. Making overall plans for the interaction of our new approaches to industrialization and urbanization

In setting out to promote new approaches to industrialization and urbanization, we should be aware of the core role that industrialization plays, the supporting role that urbanization plays, and the crucial role that coordinating these two processes plays. The interaction of industrialization and urbanization is, in essence, a dynamic process in which industrial and spatial structures adjust and adapt during the process of economic and social development. Therefore, we must advance industrialization and urbanization simultaneously, integrate industries and cities spatially, divide different zones by function, and combine primary, secondary, and tertiary industries.

We need to start off by making plans and giving play to the guiding role of planning. We need to promote the interlinking of economic and social development plans, industrial development plans, overall urban plans, overall land use plans, transportation development plans, and new countryside development plans. In particular, we need to formulate industrial and urban plans on the basis of existing transportation plans and layouts, so as to ensure that planning in these three aspects is integrated.

We need to continue to use industrialization as a means of promoting urbanization. In accordance with requirements for urban-industrial integration, we need to optimize urban functions in line with the needs of industrial development, and promote urban expansion through the development of industry. We need to attach industrial development to urban areas, balance the spatial layout of industrial and urban areas, and cease the practice of locating industries far away from cities, which has been seen in some localities. We need to utilize industrial parks as breakthrough points for the meeting of industrialization and urbanization and the integration of industries and cities. Where necessary, we need to plan new urban areas to accommodate industrial parks, and support the development of industrial parks through the development of new urban areas.

We need to stimulate the coordinated development of different regions through the interaction of industrialization and urbanization. Large cities act as cores and growth poles for the development of their surrounding regions, while surrounding regions act as a support and an outlying area for the expansion of cities. We need to strive to optimize the layout of regional development, and step up efforts to nurture regional central cities and city clusters, so as to support and stimulate the development of five major economic zones in Sichuan. In line with national requirements for the division of development priority zones, we need to develop agriculture, industry, and commerce in areas that are suited to such activities when promoting regional development. At the same time, we must be vigilant against the rash development of industries or the expansion of cities without taking local conditions into consideration. Located in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, Sichuan Province shoulders an important responsibility in environmental protection. Therefore, during the process of industrialization and urbanization, we need to enhance our protection of the environment and develop an ecological screen in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

We need to develop a social management system that accords with the interaction of industrialization and urbanization. The key issues regarding the interaction of industrialization and urbanization include enterprises’ entry into industrial parks, rural migrant workers’ entry into the cities, and the settling of non-urban residents in urban areas. The core aspect of our efforts to make innovations in social management and services is to help the migrant population integrate into cities more thoroughly and more rapidly. We need to accelerate the reform of the household registration system so that eligible rural migrant workers may settle in cities and enjoy the same rights and privileges as local residents. We also need to develop a more adequate employment service system for both urban and rural areas, vigorously develop vocational education, and strengthen job training. In addition, we also need to work quickly to establish a social security system that covers both urban and rural residents and corresponds to our level of industrialization and urbanization. Moreover, we need to strengthen community development and management, and strengthen the self-governance and service functions of communities, so as to better meet the needs of industrialization and urbanization.

We need to balance the relationship between the interaction of industrialization and urbanization and the interlinking of industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization. China’s new approach to industrialization, new approach to urbanization, and agricultural modernization are mutual reinforcing processes. As such, it is crucial that we promote agricultural modernization through the interaction of industrialization and urbanization. We must continue to strengthen the position of agriculture as the foundation of the economy, take solid steps to increase spending on agriculture, rural areas and rural residents, and maintain Sichuan’s position as a major national grain production center and a supply base for competitive agricultural products. We need to continue to nurture agriculture through industry and support the countryside through urban initiatives, enhance the comprehensive production capacity and level of industrialization in agriculture, and promote the coordination of agricultural industrialization and our new approach to industrialization. We also need to continue to integrate urban development with the development of a new countryside, promote urban and rural integration at the county level, and scientifically plan the layout of county seats, towns, townships, and the new countryside. In addition, we need to continue to rely on central towns to promote the development of surrounding new villages, and strive to build happy homes for rural residents by developing new socialist communities in countryside that boast comprehensive facilities.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.5, 2012)


Author: Secretary of the CPC Sichuan Provincial Committee


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