Jiangxi could become alternative economic hub to coronavirus-stricken Hubei

By Yang Kunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/13 18:19:22

Fish farmers dry lake anchovies by the side of Poyang Lake near the Yinshan Island in Duchang County, east China's Jiangxi Province, December 16, 2019 . Local fish farmers make the fish into air-dried products for sale on the winter market. (Photo: China News Service/ Liu Zhankun)

 Central China's Jiangxi Province is often overlooked in China's vast economic landscape, but it may just have been tipped as the next hub to boost coronavirus-stricken Hubei Province, experts told the Global Times on Monday. 

According to a government announcement released by China's State Council on Monday, plans have been approved to establish an inland open economic test zone in Jiangxi, with details to be pinned down by the state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The decision might signal that Jiangxi will divert part of the manufacturing and industrial capacities from Hubei, and could potentially become an alternative driving force in Central China as the country's established economic hub has been hard hit by the coronavirus, Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce's International Market Research Institute told the Global Times.

On April 8, Hubei's capital Wuhan lifted its 76-day lockdown, and business and industrial operations have now begun to resume. But Bai said the more than two months of shutdown has inevitably hampered the province's manufacturing-centered economy.

Last year Hubei's total GDP grew 7.4 percent, hitting over 4 trillion yuan ($567.8 billion) and ranking seventh in China. The total industrial volume in Hubei also ranked the seventh in the country, and 90 percent of the province's industry falls into the manufacturing sector, according to statistics from the Hubei government. 

"To make up for a potentially significant drop in that number, establishing a testing zone and shifting some of the industry there might give the regional economy a leg up," said Tian Yun, vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association.

According to Tian, although Jiangxi's total economy is small at 2.48 trillion yuan in 2019, its growth rate was one of the fastest at 8 percent, and it is one of the provinces with the most potential in Central China. 

Jiangxi still enjoys relatively lower labor costs, and its rare earth and mineral industry can offer a solid foundation for technology innovation, Tian noted. 

"With the right stimulus, Jiangxi's GDP growth might be sustained at one of the highest levels of around 9 percent this year, even under the coronavirus impact," Tian said. 

Although specific details of the testing zone plans are yet to be clarified, experts say freer investment and large infrastructure projects can be expected for Jiangxi, particularly improvements in transportation systems linking neighboring provinces.

Jiangxi is also a province of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, which encompasses nine provinces and two municipalities in China. According to Tian, the new testing zone should deepen connections with the other provinces and municipalities, including Shanghai and East China's Jiangsu Province, which both have much more mature economies.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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