Urbanization of central and western regions new opportunities for Chinese modernization: experts at GT annual conference
Published: Dec 23, 2023 04:35 PM
Fang Ning, chair professor at Sichuan University. Graphic: GT

Fang Ning, chair professor at Sichuan University. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

The urbanization and industrialization of central and western parts of China will inject new impetus into the country's economic development, Chinese experts said at the 2024 Global Times Annual Conference held in Beijing on Saturday, highlighting the role of western region's development in achieving Chinese modernization.

In the development of Chinese modernization, the country needs to push for breakthrough in space, breaking out of the country's current geographical development structure and seek development in the western region of the country, along the Heihe-Tengchong Line, Fang Ning, chair professor at Sichuan University, said at the conference on Saturday.

The Heihe-Tengchong Line, also called the Aihui-Tengchong Line, which was proposed by Chinese geographer Hu Huanyong in 1935, reflects the contrasting population densities in China with a diagonal line linking Heihe in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province to Tengchong in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

The first wave of China's industrialization and modernization had brought development to the southern and eastern parts of the country. The second wave will hit the Heihe-Tengchong line soon, raising the urbanization rate, Fang said.

China's western region has enjoyed growing momentum. In the first three quarters of 2023, the economic growth of a number of provinces and regions in the central and western parts of the country, including Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang, outperformed the national average GDP growth, according to official data. Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region reported fast economic growth of 9.8 percent in first three quarters of the year, data showed. 

The opportunities and highlights of China's economic development are largely linked to urbanization, while the focus of urbanization is in the creation and formation of urban agglomerations, Yang Xuedong, director of The Institute of International Studies, Tsinghua University, noted at the conference. 

Efforts must be made to promote the building of city clusters in order to achieve China's high-quality development. In addition to the existing coastal city clusters, the country could develop city clusters in the central and western region to boost the development of local areas, Yang said.

The western part of China has enormous growth potential for new-energy sectors, as it is rich in wind power and photovoltaic power. New mega-cities could be built in this region to develop economies of agglomeration and scale, leading to industrialization and modernization and promote Chinese modernization, Fang said.