Jiangsu province is giving priority to the underdeveloped northern part of the province as it seeks to increase its manufacturing might amid export and foreign investment declines, Jiangsu Communist Party secretary Liang Baohua said. The province, part of the affluent Yangtze River Delta, sees the northern area as a new growth engine as it attracts fresh funds and new projects. 'Traditional industries have been hit by the financial crisis but we are setting our sights on new sectors to combat the economic downturn,' Mr Liang told Hong Kong reporters in Nanjing last week. 'We are relocating a large number of manufacturing projects to northern Jiangsu while the southern side will focus on hi-tech industries.' The province, whose total gross domestic product value trails only Guangdong and Shandong, is home to the investment hubs such as Kunshan, Suzhou, Wuxi and Nanjing as global information technology giants set up production lines there to take advantage of the inexpensive land and labour costs. Mr Liang said the global financial crisis had reinforced the province's decision to focus on technology-intensive and value-added products. 'Jiangsu is not rich in resources, but it abounds with talent,' he said. 'Technology innovation holds the key to future prosperity.' As part of efforts to keep the economy growing on a fast track, the province has taken steps to boost development in the untapped northern region, including the transfer of manufacturing assets worth 500 billion yuan (HK$567.2 billion) to the region, a move to balance economic development and narrow the wealth gap. Jiangsu has submitted a blueprint to the State Council to rapidly develop the northern port city of Lianyungang, according to Lianyungang party secretary Wang Jianhua. Under the proposal, the port city's annual container handling capacity will be increased to 10 million teu (20-foot equivalent units) from the current 3 million teu. The plan to rejuvenate Lianyungang is a result of promises by state leaders including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, who believe the centrally located east coast city can be a springboard to greater development in the poorer central and western provinces such as Henan. Lianyungang was also expected to attract 'super-large' industrial projects, Mr Wang said. Potential investors included General Electric and BP, but he declined to reveal details.