Staying green while seeking growth
Fujian aims to continue environmental protection measures amid push for high-quality development
Editor's note: This year, the Communist Party of China is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding. China Daily is publishing a series of stories looking at the tremendous changes that have occurred in provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities under the leadership of the Party. They also include stories of the people and places that have left indelible marks in the Party's path to glory.
There is a popular saying in southern Fujian province that is emblematic of an enterprising spirit: "Dedicate yourself, and you will win".
With that in mind, Fujian residents have achieved sustained socioeconomic growth characterized by thriving industries, prosperous lives and a beautiful environment over the past decades.
Last year, Fujian's GDP reached 4.39 trillion yuan ($675.4 billion), ranking seventh among the nation's 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Known as the greenest province in the country, it has a forest coverage rate of 66.8 percent, the highest nationwide for decades. Its natural environment, water and air quality are also among the best in the country.
Thanks to continued environmental protection measures, the province has taken the lead in the country's effort to build an ecological civilization－a goal set by the Communist Party of China to turn the nation into a beautiful place while embarking on sustainable development.
Yin Li, secretary of the CPC's Fujian Provincial Committee, said that during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), Fujian will strive to secure high-quality economic growth while continuing to build a more beautiful province by taking concrete ecological conservation steps.
In the new development stage, Fujian will earnestly implement the new development philosophy and actively integrate itself into the country's efforts to foster a new development paradigm, Yin told People's Daily in March during the annual two sessions, the nation's most important political event.
While working to create a development environment that is conducive to promoting innovation, creativity and business startups, the province will step up efforts to improve technological innovation, boost its digital industry, develop its real economy, and upgrade and optimize the industrial structure to push for all-around high-quality growth, Yin said.
As China has embarked on a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country this year, it is urging the provincial regions to adhere to the new development paradigm of "dual circulation". This requires China to remain part of the "international circulation" of global trade while emphasizing the improvement of "domestic circulation"－essentially, developing a vibrant economy at home while reducing dependence on others.
During President Xi Jinping's inspection tour in Fujian in late March, he underscored the need for the province to integrate into the country's new development paradigm and promote high-quality growth.
Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, knows a great deal about Fujian. He held various posts in the province from 1985 to 2002 and launched a series of reforms with strategic significance and far-reaching influence.
During his March visit, he urged the province to participate in the establishment of dual circulation, try to optimize and upgrade its industrial structure and accelerate the development of the digital industry.
As China has vowed to reach its carbon emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, Xi asked Fujian to work out its timeline and road map in a scientific manner to contribute to realizing the nation's goal for reducing emissions.
In the meantime, Fujian should also deepen its cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative, explore new approaches for integrated development across the Taiwan Straits and further develop its pilot free trade zone along with a new system promoting a higher-level open economy, Xi said.
With bolder reforms, the Fujian Pilot Free Trade Zone has been unveiled and has carried out more than 480 innovative policies and measures since it started operation in April 2015, with some of them promoted nationwide, said Wu Nanxiang, head of Fujian Provincial Department of Commerce.
Fujian's FTZ comprises the cities of Pingtan, Xiamen and Fuzhou and serves as a test bed for reform and innovation with an aim to boost cross-Straits relations and promote economic ties between Fujian and the economies involved in the BRI.
Taking the Xiamen area as an example, the FTZ has been accelerating its pace in digital transformation in recent years as it aims to become the country's leading 5G comprehensive bonded zone and a pilot area for a digital partnership that involves its fellow BRICS nations-Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa－by 2022.
The area has built 249 5G base stations to date, achieving full 5G network coverage in public areas in the pilot free trade zone. Next-generation information technologies, such as big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, have been widely adopted in the area as well.
In the 14th Five-Year Plan period, Fujian will promote opening-up and improve related systems in the FTZ, expand opening-up in such fields as medical, telecommunications and financial services, and lower the threshold of foreign companies in terms of registered capital and their ability to invest, Wu said.
By leveraging the advantages of its locations near Taiwan, it will also work to intensify cross-Straits cooperation in the construction of industry, supply, innovation and value chains to create a common marketplace across the Straits, he added.
In terms of further reform, Wu said efforts will be made to strengthen pilot programs involved in coordinating onshore and offshore business development and to arrange ties between domestic and international markets to aid the establishment of the dual circulation paradigm.
He also said that Fujian will make consistent efforts to improve the business environment, allow the market to fully play a decisive role in resource allocations and explore more flexible and efficient laws, regulations and management systems.
As part of its effort to step up construction of the FTZ, Fujian issued an implementation plan in April to optimize its business environment and invigorate the market.
The plan consisted of general requirements, main tasks and major measures to ensure its implementation. It had six aspects, including improving the level of investment service, lowering the threshold of market access and entrepreneurship and simplifying the approval procedures of enterprises.
The implementation plan resolved problems in the province's business environment, with the aim of breaking barriers. The effective practice of serving enterprises in Fujian during the COVID-19 pandemic while carrying out prevention and control measures was further promoted in the plan, which also included identifying business locations for mobile vendors and sharing workers between factories.
The plan also focused on exchanges and cooperation between Fujian and Taiwan, canceling the restrictions on Taiwan-funded construction companies that required investments from the island to exceed 50 percent.
Another measure improved the recognition of nine types of professional qualifications in Taiwan, including doctors and guides. It was designed in part to protect the well-being of Taiwan compatriots.
An aerial view of Fudao, a winding pedestrian greenway in Fuzhou, Fujian province. CHINA DAILY