By Hu Yongqi | China Daily
Premier Li Keqiang called on Shaanxi province to make the most of opportunities to further open up, as China promotes the Belt and Road Initiative, in a panel discussion of National People’s Congress deputies from the province in Beijing on Thursday.
The premier urged the province to advance reform and opening-up since Shaanxi is an important crossroads for the initiative, which is composed of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Xi’an, the provincial capital, which was a starting point for the ancient Silk Road as far back as the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), became the key city for the China (Shaanxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which was approved by the State Council in August to facilitate trade with countries and regions along the ancient route.
Shaanxi registered 1.9 trillion yuan ($279 billion) of GDP last year, a year-on-year increase of 7.6 percent and 0.9 of a percentage point higher than the country’s growth rate. The province also excels in industries such as aviation as Northwest China’s center of science and technology.
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In January 2014, the premier spent three days visiting the province’s cities of Shangluo, Xi’an and Ankang. During the visit, Li focused on economic transformation and cultivation of industries to employ people who had been relocated from impoverished areas to less-isolated places.
During Thursday’s discussions, Li said Shaanxi has made enormous progress in economic and social development in recent years, and he hopes the province will make new achievements this year while being closely united under the Communist Party of China Central Committee with “Comrade Xi Jinping as the core”.
Li said reforms should be deepened by promoting administrative streamlining and accelerating the transformation from old growth drivers to new ones.
He called for the development of industries such as high-end equipment manufacturing and electronic information, and expansion of new businesses such as logistics and e-commerce. The development of culture and tourism should also be boosted, he added.
Li said more jobs should be created to improve the quality of people’s lives.
The Government Work Report, which Li delivered on Sunday at the opening session of the National People’s Congress, set a target of 11 million new jobs for urban areas this year, 10 percent higher than last year’s target.
In 2016, about 13.14 million new jobs were created in urban areas, exceeding the target by 30 percent, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.