East China's Zhejiang province is home to some of the world's leading companies, including tech giant Alibaba and automobile manufacturer Geely. Its capital city Hangzhou is hosting the Asian Games in 2022. But with the pandemic, how is the province planning to keep boosting its economy?
CGTN reporter Wu Lei has this exclusive interview with Yuan Jiajun, Party Secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial Committee, who shares his vision and outlook for the next five years.
Wu: "Building a digital society has been a key trend across most countries around the world. Zhejiang province recently held a special meeting to promote digitalization and plan a global digital hub. How do you plan to achieve these targets?"
Yuan: "So the goal of this digital reform is to promote the modernization of provincial governance. At the same time, we need to systematically improve our economic growth, social development, legal system and the provincial government. We've set up a systematic and intelligent public data platform. We'll focus on five major applications including the digital government, the digital economy, digital society and the digital legal system. We also need to enhance the theoretical and legislative system of digital reforms. We hope to achieve some positive results in a year, big changes in two years, and a systematic upgrade in five years, which will be at the end of our 14th Five Year Plan. We hope Zhejiang province can offer a new set of solutions in this digital age."
Wu: "Global trade and foreign investment have been hit hard by the pandemic. What progress has Zhejiang made in attracting foreign investment and expanding opening up in the past year, and what are the next steps?"
Yuan: "Indeed, the key to Zhejiang's recovery was to get the pandemic under control first and then resume our work and production. Our foreign trade volume reached a record high in 2020. The total value of Zhejiang province's imports and exports reached 3.38 trillion yuan. And the export volume reached 2.5 trillion yuan, an increase of nine percent, which accounted for 14 percent of China's total share of exports. Last year, the province had 2,821 foreign investment projects at a total amount of 15.78 billion U.S. dollars. Besides the Zhoushan Free Trade Zone, we also added cities like Ningbo, Hangzhou and Yiwu into the free trade zone. In this way, we have a larger free trade zone and platform. Through this series of initiatives, we hope to boost domestic consumption and dual circulation in both domestic and overseas markets."
Wu: "Private enterprises play an increasingly important role in the Chinese economy. Zhejiang is home to many leading private manufacturers. So what measures will you take to promote the growth of the manufacturing sector further?"
Yuan: "The private economy is seen as the biggest feature of Zhejiang's economic growth. Private entrepreneurs have also become the most valuable asset of our society. So our next step is to continue to introduce tailor-made measures to help these private companies. We have made specific plans to help and foster listed companies, to attract more multinational companies and to boost small and medium innovative companies. The most important thing is to create a market-oriented rule of law and an international business environment. We are doing our best to make enterprise investments more convenient, taking innovative means to promote the healthy development of the private economy in Zhejiang."
Wu: "Hangzhou, Zhejiang province's capital city, will host the 19th Asian Games in 2022. How is the preparation going?"
Yuan: "Because the 2022 Asian Games is set to be held in September next year, we're making sure that all venues will be finished by next April, and that the rest of the infrastructure is basically in place. At the same time, we are also improving the city's overall quality, enhancing barrier-free and other necessary facilities."
Wu: "Any welcoming words for global athletes and audiences?"
Yuan: "Zhejiang province has the most beautiful landscape, a rich cultural heritage, an innovative dynamic economy, especially in terms of the digital economy. We have a loving and warm-hearted society. We have a beautiful countryside, we have lucid waters and green mountains. We've created a dynamic team of entrepreneurs. We have a pragmatic and efficient government. Above all, we have intelligent, hardworking, friendly and beautiful people, so I would like to give our friends from Asia and the whole world our warmest welcome to the city of Hangzhou. I'm certain that you will have a fulfilling trip. Thank you so much."