HARBIN, May 25, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping views high-tech products during his visit to the scientific and technological innovation building of Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, May 25, 2016. Xi Jinping made an inspection tour in Heilongjiang from May 23 to 25. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
BEIJING, May 27 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping has pledged action on economic restructuring during a tour of Heilongjiang Province, once a flourishing heavy industrial center.
"If we hesitate in making decisions and take half measures, we will lose this rare opportunity," Xi said during the visit from Monday to Wednesday, urging local authorities to be fully committed to upgrading old industries and nurturing new ones.
The northeast, including the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, was among the first regions in China to become industrialized. Its traditional industries include steel, automobiles, shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing and petroleum refining.
The three northeastern provinces' economic growth has been slowing as their industrial bases lose steam. The top leader's on-the-ground investigations were aimed at establishing a feasible approach to revitalizing the rust belt, said Xin Ming from the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
"The approach should be practical, and take into full consideration the trade-off between breaking from the old economic model and safeguarding people's livelihoods," Xin added.
During his Heilongjiang tour, Xi visited a tree plantation, rice cooperative, Heixiazi Island, Hezhe minority village and technology firms.
FAITH IN ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING
Revitalizing the northeast rust belt, a cornerstone of China's economic growth, has been a crucial part of country's modernization drive.
Against the backdrop of the Chinese economy settling into a "new normal" featuring lower growth rates, the northeast is experiencing a more acute slowdown than other areas of the country .
According to official data, in the first two months of 2016, China's value-added industrial output gained 5.4 percent year on year, the lowest monthly growth since November of 2008. Meanwhile, industrial output in China's northeast in January and February dropped 3.5 percent.
In spite of the challenges faced by the northeast in economic development, Chinese central authorities have called on the region to take advantage of the supply-side structural reform going on across the country.
Xi told a meeting of senior officials in Heilongjiang that only supply-side reform can strengthen industrial structure and productivity.
The key to shaking off recession in the northeast is restoring confidence among market players, said Han Baojiang, deputy director of the Party School's economic department.
Rich natural resources, a solid manufacturing base, a huge labor force as well as a higher urbanization level than the rest part of China have laid a foundation for the northeastern provinces' long-term development, according to Han.
Since 2013, Xi has made three tours to the northeast and visited a number of technology companies, urging deeper integration of information technology and industrialization in the region.
The president's latest inspection came one month after the country issued a policy document on the revival of old industrial bases.
China is determined to transform the northeast into the manufacturing base for advanced equipment and a strategic base for technological equipment by 2030, said the document.
The National Development and Reform Commission announced earlier this month that China is considering 130 infrastructure and other projects for the northeast to boost growth there.
BETTER LIFE, BETTER ENVIRONMENT
Xi stressed improvement of people's living standards numerous times during his tour. This can be done through more public funding to address concerns such as employment, education, healthcare, housing, pensions and poverty, he said.
Liu Dongchao, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, said ensuring all Chinese share the achievements of development has been and will always be one of the top priorities for China.
Liu also lauded the central authorities' prioritization of environmental protection in the northeast, where high mountains, vast forests and long rivers play a big part in the ecological safety of China.
Visiting Yichun, an area of dense forests, Xi restated the significance of environmental protection and demanded concerted efforts to establish new industries other than logging.
Over the past decade, great efforts have been made in revitalizing cities and regions in the northeast with gradually depleted natural resources.
The central government have spent 32 billion yuan (4.88 billion U.S. dollars) in supporting those cities and transforming their development models. Meanwhile, the three northeastern provinces have created over 66,670 hectares of new forests.