Regional integration, transportation and, in particular, economic coordination, will be priorities for the Yangtze River Delta urban cluster as a new development plan ramps up economic transformation and looks set to grab global attention, experts said.
After nearly two decades, the cluster has expanded to 30 cities in Shanghai and Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces.
The region accounts for just 3.69 percent of China's land area, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in economic clout. It generates more than 20 percent of the country's GDP, topping the rankings for China's three biggest urban clusters. The other two are the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster in the north and the Pearl River Delta cluster in Guangdong province in the south.
At the executive meeting on May 11, the State Council, China's cabinet, approved the new plan to further promote the Yangtze River Delta urban cluster to achieve a global reputation by 2030.
Six years ago, the central government decided the Yangtze River Delta region was to be a center for modern services and advanced manufacturing and a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region by 2018. Under the new plan, the cluster will focus on high-end manufacturing and modern services.
Lyu Bin, director of the Urban and Regional Planning Department at Peking University, said: "The new plan shows the central government's determination to transform traditional industries and cultivate new momentum to combat the economic slowdown."
The plan also targets forming an integrated market and enhanced innovation for the financial, technological research and development and logistics sectors.
The cluster will prosper if it can overcome several obstacles that stand in the way of regional integration, said Lyu, who was one of the specialists to assess the plan, formulated by the National Development and Reform Commission, before it went to the State Council, China's cabinet, for approval.