Ma Qingbin, an associate researcher at the Research Department of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the Central Plains Economic Zone's long-term viability depends on cooperation between the five provinces.
"Whether or not cooperative relationships between these provincial economies can be formed will decide the zone's future prospects," said Ma.
Several things must be done to achieve inter-provincial cooperation, said Ma. Infrastructure—such as highway construction, cross-provincial water management and industrial development—should be better consolidated. Cross-provincial joint conferences must be held to discuss relevant issues. Public services for a regional migrating population must be established. Joint industrial and infrastructural planning is needed.
If each province and city develops their own infrastructure and public services in a vacuum, the free flow of population, capital and technology won't be realized and the entire Central Plains Economic Zone would be a delusion, said Ma.
"Arousing the enthusiasm of the five provinces is key in order to optimize resource allocation on a large scale and push for further integration," said Chen Yao.
Chen Yao is concerned that the administrative divisions among these provinces could hinder the establishment of stronger economic links to some extent. Additionally, mechanisms should be in place to address conflicts that may arise from inter-provincial cooperation.
Zheng Taisen, Director of the Institute of Economics at the Henan Provincial Development and Reform Commission, said that Henan has already begun the process of regional integration by building cross-provincial railways and expressways.
He suggested that more cooperation is needed to balance the region's development and facilitate the flow of capital and human resources.
"It's of great significance to establish and perfect cross-provincial cooperative mechanisms, carry out pilot programs for regional balanced development and enhance competitive advantages," Zheng said.
Development Goals for the Central Plains Economic Zone (2012-20)
- Major indicators for economic growth will be higher than the national average level.
- Per-capita GDP in the region is expected to rise from 26,317 yuan ($4,213) in 2011 to 60,000 yuan ($9,606) in 2020.
- The ratio of the region's GDP will rise from 9 percent to 10.5 percent of the country's GDP.
- The current 14.23 million hectares of farmland will be maintained until 2020.
- Overall grain production will be increased from 93.26 million tons in 2011 to 108 million tons.
- Forest acreage will expand from 22 percent to 25 percent.
- Energy consumption per unit of GDP will be reduced by roughly 30 percent.
(Source: Development Plan for the Central Plains Economic Zone (2012-20))
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