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Friday, July 4, 2014, 10:03

Li feels central region's pulse

By Zhao Yinan in Changsha (China Daily)

 Li feels central region's pulse
Premier Li Keqiang (second from left) pays an inspection visit to the construction site of the Shanghai-Kunming high-speed railway in Changsha, Hunan province, on Thursday. Liu Zhen/China News Service

Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan province, on Thursday, to take the pulse of the economy at midyear and propose steps to maintain growth.

The trip took Li to the construction site of a high-speed railway as well as a local university, where he enjoyed some light moments with workers and students.

The meetings were a stark contrast to the atmosphere at an economic symposium held afterward, where Li heard the worries of provincial governors and corporate leaders.

It is a convention for Chinese premiers to conduct field visits in early July ahead of the release of half-year economic indicators. So local governors and business owners were watching closely for clues about where the premier will take the nation's economic policies.

Experts said his choice of a destination reveals the answer. The potential resilience of China's economy lies not on the coastline but more in the central area of the country, where urbanization is just getting started, the infrastructure needs upgrading, and robust growth is expected.

According to an index compiled by the research institute of the 21st Century Business Herald, the economic well-being of central provinces led the nation in the first quarter of this year.

The index gives industrial output a 30 percent weighting, fixed-asset investment 20 percent and three other indicators 10 percent each. The result was that the central provinces have the greatest potential for development.

Hubei province in Central China topped the list. Four other central provinces also appeared in the top 10: Henan, Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui.

Northeast provinces - Heilongjiang, for instance - ranked at the low end of the scale. These old industrial bases are finding their restructuring to be a challenging task.

Zhang Keyun, a regional economics professor at Renmin University of China, said the central area faces fewer challenges in industrial restructuring than coastal China while being equipped with better public facilities and a more favorable investment environment than the west.

 
 
 
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