Wuhu, Huainan and Chuzhou in East China's Anhui province were included in the Yangtze River Delta, one of the main engines behind China's economy.
The news was announced at the 13th Conference of Mayors of the Yangtze River Delta Economic Coordination Association running from April 13 to 14 in Hefei, capital of Anhui province.
The association, consisting of 15 member cities when it was founded in 1996, has always received bids for new membership. In 2010, Hefei and Ma'anshan were allowed to join it, marking the first time Anhui's cities have become members of the delta.
The region was further expanded as the association announced yesterday the entry of eight cities, namely, Wuhu, Huainan and Chuzhou in Anhui province, Xuzhou and Lianyungang in Jiangsu province and Zhejiang's Lishui and Wenzhou.
Such expansion is a necessary consequence of progress, and also essential for the region's maintenance of the front-runner status in domestic and international competition, attendees said.
The eight cities' bids for the Yangtze River Delta membership were put to the vote by 22 mayors of the old member cities. None ended in failure.
Wuhu, the second largest economy in Anhui, was among the lucky few to win the unanimous vote. Wang Huadong, vice mayor the city, called his counterparts' support "wise decisions", saying the entry would make a big difference to the city.
The city, accounting for 5 percent of Anhui's population, generated more than 10 percent of the provincial GDP, according to the official.
Huainan's entry was largely attributed to its abundance of coal, vice mayor Wang Cheng said. The city has been one of the major energy suppliers to power plants based in the delta and also a leading force carrying out an ongoing project to send electricity from Anhui to Shanghai and Zhejiang, senior members of the association.
It was not surprising Chuzhou's bid was passed by a huge majority, given that the city had been in good partnership with the Yangtze River Delta for decades and showed great potential for further cooperation, a local official said.
Up to 70 percent of the city's investment projects were funded by investors from the delta, while the region, in turn, paid for 70 percent of goods made in but sold outside the city, said the source, who wouldn't give his name.
The association also set out priorities for this year, calling on member cities to work together in eight fields like creating an effective mechanism for coping with emergencies and boosting strategic emerging industries.
In addition, two documents were signed at the meeting: one agreement on cooperation among cities and a manifesto focusing on environmental protection.
(By Zheng Weiling)