China will use a development plan for the prosperous Yangtze River Delta region to showcase its “dual-circulation” strategy, which will focus on making the domestic economy more resilient while continuing to support exports. The development blueprint includes Shanghai and the neighbouring provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang – an area which accounts for a quarter of China’s gross domestic product.

In a speech last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighted the need to break down administrative barriers, enhance policy coordination and allow the easier flow of land, labour, entrepreneurship and capital in the region. “The Yangtze River Delta must make full use of its advantages in talent, technologies, manufacturing capabilities, industrial chains and large market potential to actively explore the path to a new development pattern,” Xi said at a symposium in Hefei, the capital city of Anhui, on Thursday. “It needs to not only bring excellent products, but also supply high-level technologies to support the nation’s high-quality development.”

President Xi announced the dual circulation strategy in May as a way of offsetting external shocks and uncertainty, including a global economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic and increasing hostility from the United States government. He has ordered the four Yangtze River Delta provinces to innovate in key areas, such as integrated circuits, biological science, medicine and artificial intelligence. “The innovation and development rights must be firmly grasped in our own hands,” Xi said, in apparent reference to US efforts to contain China’s technology development.

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