Bo effect boosts port's rankings
The southwestern municipality of Chongqing led the mainland in competitiveness gains between 2006 and 2010, a government think tank said yesterday.
Anhui province, a major exporter of migrant workers, was the second most improved while top coal producer Shanxi witnessed the biggest regression.
Jiangsu had the most competitive economy on the mainland in 2010 after trailing Shanghai, Guangdong and Beijing in 2006. The four regions topped the competitiveness rankings for all five years.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) released its 'Report on Overall Competitiveness of China's Provincial Economy During the 11th Five-Year Period' in Beijing yesterday.
Professor Peng Zhenhuai, head of the Local Government Research Institute at Peking University, said Chongqing's recent economic success could partly be attributed to its party chief, Bo Xilai.
'Under the current Chinese political system, Bo's position as a member of the central Politburo has created an advantage for Chongqing's growth,' he said. None of Bo's four predecessors, since Chongqing was made a directly controlled municipality in 1997, were Politburo members at the time.
A big inland port on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, Chongqing is strategically located and has enjoyed a great deal of support from the central leadership, especially since Bo became party secretary in 2007. It tied with Tianjin for first place in terms of economic growth last year.
The CASS report shows that while western regions still lag far behind their eastern counterparts, the gap has been narrowing.
The report divides the mainland into four regions - east, northeast, central and west - with the west achieving the biggest improvement in competitiveness between 2006 and 2010, followed by the central region and the northeast.
Professor Li Minrong, a main drafter of the report, said yesterday that the impact of the global economic downturn on the mainland gradually lessened as one travelled from east to west. While eastern areas had suffered significant declines in major economic indicators, and central regions, largely reliant on mining, were seriously influenced, the west and northeast had kept growing, he said.
Han Jun, a researcher at the State Council's Development Research Centre, said the slowdown in the east was partly because the mainland's demographic bonus was disappearing as labour shortages became more common and labour costs rose. 'And it's exerting a greater impact on the coastal areas,' he said.
Twenty-three of the 31 provinces, directly controlled municipalities and autonomous regions on the mainland had achieved annual gross domestic product of more than one trillion yuan (HK$1.2 trillion) by last year, the report said. Guangdong, Jiangsu and Shandong ranked first, second and third in terms of GDP last year.
Besides mainland provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, the report also included Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau for comparison purposes. It said that if they were part of the mainland economy, Taiwan would have replaced Jiangsu as the most competitive region in 2010, with Hong Kong ranked third and Macau ninth.