Balanced regional development is an important part of China's economic development concepts and has been written into the nation's economic and social development blueprint, including the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) and the report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. It has also become part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the most recent adaptation of Marxism according to the Chinese context.
Past practices prove the viability of the balanced development concept, such as the formation of the Yangtze River Delta city cluster in east China. Approved three years ago, this development plan has resource-rich Shanghai playing a central role to improve the economy of the cluster that includes parts of neighboring Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces. The principles being followed are innovation, coordination, environmental protection, openness and sharing.
Other successful examples are the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in north China, the Pearl River Delta region covering nine cities in Guangdong Province in south China, and the Yangtze River Economic Belt comprising 11 provinces and municipalities along the Yangtze River.
Balanced regional development has contributed significantly to the overall economic growth of the clusters and also percolated to their surrounding areas. This issue's cover story showcases the successful experience of the Yangtze River Delta city cluster.
The development of the region has realized orderly and free flow of production factors, balanced development of basic public services and environmental improvements. It's a model that besides vitalizing production factors is stimulating creativity of the regional economy.
Balanced development strategies can narrow the development gaps in a region. In the Yangtze River Delta region, the economy of Jiangsu and Anhui used to trail Shanghai's. However, the development of the city cluster and the free movement of production factors are changing the situation, with Shanghai playing a leading role in resource-sharing.
As the Chinese economy sustains pressure both domestically and internationally, imbalance in regional development, especially in urban-rural development, has become increasingly prominent. Therefore the central and local governments are ready to establish more effective mechanisms for balanced regional development and improve existing ones.
The Yangtze River Delta region's practices to nurture more central cities in the region so as to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas and between central and peripheral areas are replicable across China. In the future, regional development strategies are bound to play a more important role.