Premier Li Keqiang promised on April 28 to help group 11 provincial-level regions into the largest development network in China—an economic belt along the 1,800-km "golden waterway" of the Yangtze River.
It is a logical step to use the Yangtze River to connect the relatively developed east China with central and west China, Li said.
Li discussed the plan with leaders from the 11 municipalities and provinces in Chongqing, and he said it will generate a powerful driving force behind the nation's next round of economic development.
The 11 regions in the proposed economic belt include Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities, along with Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.
"The well-being of people along the Yangtze River—about 580 million in 2012—is vital to the country's overall development," Li said.