Encouraged by Xi's words, Northeast China explores Chinese modernization with fresh efforts for revitalization
Endeavor and responsibility
Published: Mar 01, 2023 11:52 PM
Engineer debugs a robot at the Siasun Robot and Automation Co Ltd digital production workshop in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, on February 8, 2022. Photo: IC

Engineer debugs a robot at the Siasun Robot and Automation Co Ltd digital production workshop in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, on February 8, 2022. Photo: IC

There is an old Chinese saying that a year's plan starts with spring.

In Northeast China, at the 2023 China Industrial Economy Summit Forum held in Changchun, Jilin Province from February 25 to 26, government officials and industry representatives and experts discussed the construction of a modern industrial system in old industrial regions. Agricultural cooperatives are crowded with farmers collecting seeds and fertilizers to prepare for spring planting. Staff members at several mountain and forest scenic spots warmly welcome tourists who come for eco-recreation tours.

Currently, in the region that Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited multiple times in a decade, people started anew, busy with ambitions to create new successes after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). 

Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has poured his heart into the revitalization and development of Northeast China. In the report to the 20th CPC National Congress, he proposed to make further progress to "achieve new breakthroughs in the full revitalization of the Northeast," and in his 2023 New Year Address, Xi said that "the momentum for revitalization is building in the Northeast."

As an important industrial and agricultural base in China, the Northeast China region bears on the overall development of the country. However, in major reports observing China's development, it is rare to see the northeastern provinces taking a leading role. For a long time, the region, which has abundant natural resources, has suffered from industrial overcapacity and brain drain. 

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, with Xi's emphasis on the revitalization of China's northeast region with fresh efforts, the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning have faced these issues head-on, vigorously promoting the transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing sector, and supported grain production and ecological improvement while seeking to embark on a path to achieving Chinese modernization in the process of achieving high-quality economic development and let more people share the fruits of revitalization.

When the Global Times reporters visited these northeastern provinces, they noted that the development of the Northeast has gradually formed a new atmosphere. Various areas where Xi inspected provide a vivid example of the Chinese path to modernization.

Innovation as new engine

Decades ago, Northeast China played a significant role as an old industrial base and the heavy-industry heartland in the development and construction of the new China.

Nowadays, the Northeast region is taking Chinese-style modernization as the lead to promote the comprehensive revitalization and make new breakthroughs. The positive outlook for the future of the region is attributed to revitalization efforts through innovation and opening up.

"We should actively build a new development pattern with domestic circulation as the mainstay and the domestic and international circulations to promote each other," Xi said during his inspection at the Siasun Robot and Automation Co Ltd in Shenyang, Liaoning in August 2022.

Xi asked the technicians and workers about the enterprise's research on core technologies and expressed acknowledgement to the achievements the enterprise has made in independent innovation and industrial development, saying that the company represents the Chinese speed and the Chinese proficiency.

Founded in 2000, Siasun has an innovative team of more than 4,000 people dedicated to promoting the integration of industrial internet, big data, cloud computing, 5G technology, and robotics, making Siasun a source of innovation for domestic robot technology in China.

"We are inspired by President Xi's speeches. We will continue to innovate, and strive to strengthen, expand, and improve China's robotics industry," Zhang Jin, president of Siasun, said, according to a statement sent to the Global Times. 

Qu Yechuang, senior engineer and vice president of Siasun's Industrial Robot Business Group, told the Global Times that as a developer of industrial robotics products, the speech given by President Xi made him even more aware of the importance and urgency of mastering core technologies and creating independent and controllable products.

In the process of revitalizing the Northeast, Siasun has vowed to lead the industry, and promote high-quality development of the industry through efforts including building core competitiveness, increasing research and innovation, and cultivating new talent.

Moreover, while visiting the R&D headquarters of automaker FAW Group in Changchun, Jilin Province in July 2020, Xi highlighted strengthening the independent development of core technologies and components to promote the high-quality development of China's automobile manufacturing industry and build strong domestic automobile brands.

Noting the fierce competition in the global manufacturing industry, Xi called for vigorous efforts to advance the development of emerging industries with strategic importance, Xinhua reported. 

Ballast for food security

Main: A view of a demonstration zone for green food production base in Lishu county, Siping, Jilin Province with signboards that read

A view of a demonstration zone for green food production base in Lishu county, Siping, Jilin Province with signboards that read "China should always have control over its own food supply." Photo: Xinhua

"When I introduced the situation of our local mechanized and large-scale farming, what surprised me was that the general secretary had a very good understanding of the global black soil situation, while constantly asking follow-up questions about ways in which we protect the arable land," Wang Guiman, head of the main station for promoting agricultural techniques in Lishu county, Jilin Province, told the Global Times. 

On July 22, 2020, Xi inspected Lishu county in Jilin Province, learning about the protection and use of black soil at a demonstration zone for green food production.

Wang won't forget the day in which Xi entered a cornfield, stressing effective measures to protect and utilize the high-yielding black soil, which is "as treasured as giant pandas."

Northeast China has the reputation of being the "Golden Corn Belt" and the "Land of Soybeans." However, compared to the other two major black soil areas in the world - the Ukrainian Plain in Europe and the Mississippi Plain in the US, only the Northeast Plain needs to be cultivated and protected at the same time. "In China, black soil cultivation is highly productive, but we also face the problem of land fertility overdraft," Wang said.

How can black soil be protected? The practice in Lishu county is worth promoting - after the autumn harvest, corn straw is used as mulch to maintain soil moisture and nutrients. At the same time, with the major breakthroughs in the development of key tools for protective cultivation, farmers can use non-tillage seeders and carry out multiple cultivation operations in one go.

During the inspection, Xi affirmed the practice,demanding that Jilin should make efforts to ensure food security, accelerate the transformation of agricultural development, and provide more experience in developing modern agriculture.

President Xi's praise and encouragement helped fortify confidence and provide an additional boost to the county. 

In the two years since then, Wang explores the establishment of a "modern agricultural production unit" with the support of the local government, to align black soil protection with the modern agricultural production system. "We need to help farmers find the advance and suitable technology to earn money from farming."

The people in Jiansanjiang, an important grain production base in Heilongjiang Province, will also never forget that on September 25, 2018 at a local agricultural machinery center, Xi said that "China should always have control over its own food supply."

"The socialist modernization won't be complete without agricultural and rural modernization," Xi made the remarks while attending and addressing the annual Central Rural Work Conference held in December in Beijing.

Wang noted that he clearly understood that the Chinese modernization is the modernization of a huge population and with it came the common prosperity of all the people. "With nearly a fifth of the world's population, the CPC requires both Party committees and governments to assume the responsibility of ensuring food security to secure its 'rice bowl'," he said.

"The people of the Northeast China proudly call the land they cultivate the 'ballast  of China's food security.' They also firmly believe that this black soil is a promising native place," Wang said.

A greener land

A visitor scans a code with a mobile phone to access information about the trees at a red pine grafting and breeding base in Yichun, Heilongjiang Province,on May 19, 2022.Photo:Xinhua

A visitor scans a code with a mobile phone to access information about the trees at a red pine grafting and breeding base in Yichun, Heilongjiang Province,on May 19, 2022.Photo:Xinhua

"Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets." Northeast China, with its rich natural resources, has been seeking high-quality development under this motto.

In May 2016, Xi visited Yichun city in Heilongjiang Province, which is also referred to as the "Forest Capital" or the "Hometown of the Pine." 

He went deep into the forest district of the Shangganling Forest Bureau and saw the natural forest protection on site. He visited a family of forest workers and found out about the challenges in jobs, employment, and living conditions.

He stressed that the restructuring and development of forest districts are necessary to protect the ecology, and also protect people's livelihoods.

According to the State Forestry and Grassland Administration, forests in Northeast China are an important migration and breeding ground for many rare birds, a priority area for biodiversity conservation, a sensitive area for climate change, and an important carbon sink. It plays an irreplaceable role in maintaining national ecological security and promoting high-quality development in the Northeast region.

The Xishui National Forest Park in Shangganling Forest Bureau which Xi visited, has a forest coverage rate of over 96 percent, and the park is renowned as a "forest ecological museum" and a "natural oxygen bar."

The people of Northeast China always keep in mind that Chinese modernization follows a development path featuring increased productivity, prosperous life and a sound ecological environment.

On February 18, Jilin Province's Chagan Lake, which is known for its centuries-old tradition of ice fishing, welcomed the first large tourist groups of the Chinese New Year. More than 400 tourists from all over the country flocked to witness fishermen who brave subzero temperatures to search for an underwater fortune at one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the country.

In September 2018, Xi inspected the ecological protection of Chagan Lake. "The sound environment is a precious resource for the economic and social development of the northeastern region, serving as an advantage for its revitalization," Xi said, asking local authorities to give priority to environmental protection and remain steadfast in green development.

"The general secretary's words have touched us greatly. How to make the protection of ecology and the development of eco-tourism complement each other have become deep questions for everyone to ponder on deeply," said Zhang Wen, a fishing master at the Chagan Lake Fish Farm.

Responding to a call by Xi, Jilin Province has promoted a series of key ecological restoration projects at Chagan Lake in Songyuan, including restoring farmlands to forests, grasslands, and wetlands, making planting adjustments, and turning the lake into a resort by capitalizing on its varied scenery through all four seasons.

"Chagan Lake now attracts many tourists all year round, driving income from fisheries and other industries. With the gradual improvement of the ecological environment, our life is getting better and better," Zhang said.