Global Times: Xi’s Shanghai inspection tour highlights top priorities

BEIJING, Dec. 4, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Chinese President Xi Jinping’s inspection tour to Shanghai underscored three top policy priorities for the country – high-quality financial development, scientific and technological (sci-tech) innovation and improvement of people’s livelihood, said business leaders, workers and analysts in Shanghai on Thursday.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made an inspection tour in Shanghai from Tuesday to Wednesday. During his trip, Xi inspected the Shanghai Futures Exchange, an exhibition on Shanghai’s sci-tech innovations, and a government-subsidized rental housing community, learning about the city’s efforts to strengthen its competitiveness as an international financial center, building the city into an international sci-tech innovation center, and constructing government-subsidized rental housing projects, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xi stressed efforts to make new major breakthroughs in the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta and enhance the region’s leading and exemplary role in pursuing Chinese modernization, while chairing a symposium on advancing the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta, according to Xinhua on Thursday.

The inspection trip offered yet another strong signal of the country’s top economic development priorities and profound encouragement to businesses and workers in the main economic hub and across the country, at a critical juncture when the country pursues high-quality development and Chinese modernization amid major shifts in the international geo-economic landscape, according to business leaders, workers and analysts.

“All my peers in the financial industry in Shanghai are very excited about his visit, and practitioners in Shanghai’s financial institutions are all talking about it,” Li Huiyong, an executive with Shanghai-based Hwabao WP Fund Management Co, told the Global Times on Thursday, noting the inspection tour pointed out the direction for Shanghai to improve its status as an international financial center.

Xi’s trip came about one month after the Central Financial Work Conference was held at the end of October, which stressed comprehensively strengthening financial supervision, improving the financial system, optimizing financial services, preventing and resolving risks, unswervingly following the path of financial development with Chinese characteristics, and promoting high-quality financial development.

The Central Financial Work Conference first mentioned the goal of building China into a financial powerhouse, and under this context, Shanghai’s status as a main financial hub becomes even more prominent, Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Thursday. Against the backdrop of a complex international environment, “further emphasis on financial development and financial support for the real economy carries greater significance,” he said.

Shanghai has become a world-class financial center,  coming at the sixth place in the latest rankings from the 2022 Global Financial Centers Index. In the first three quarters of 2023, turnover from the city’s main financial markets reached 2,546.08 trillion yuan ($356.64 trillion), up 15 percent year-on-year, according to Shanghai’s official data.

In addition to its financial industry, Shanghai is also a top sci-tech hub in China, which was also highlighted by an exhibition on Shanghai’s sci-tech innovations during Xi’s inspection tour.

“The visit is very encouraging for us. Zhangjiang has been a leading innovation hub in China, and offers many incentives to companies and talent to facilitate their long-term development. I really look forward to the future of Zhangjiang, especially in the high-tech sectors such as biopharma, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing,” Sun Shuang, an employee at Zhangjiang, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Zhangjiang Science City in Pudong New Area of Shanghai, where the sci-tech exhibition was held, is the core area of Shanghai’s sci-tech innovation center – another aspect of the city that carries national significance, as China firmly pursues sci-tech self-reliance and self-strengthening amid rising international competition, according to analysts. 

“The General Secretary’s trip to Shanghai shows that the top leadership of the central government pays great attention to financial and sci-tech development. Shanghai is relatively advanced in these aspects and is also in a critical period of development,” Xi Junyang said, noting that the progress that Shanghai has made in these critical areas could drive development not just in the Yangtze River Delta but nationwide.

Another top priority underscored by Xi’s inspection tour is the focus on improving people’s livelihood. In Shanghai, Xi inspected a government-subsidized rental housing community and learned about the city’s efforts in constructing government-subsidized rental housing projects.

Construction of government-subsidized rental housing projects has become a crucial part of the country’s efforts to address housing difficulties for new urban residents and young people. About 72 percent of the 2.04 million units of government-subsidized rental housing, proposed to be built in 2023, have been constructed across the country, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said in September. Over the past two years, a total of 5.08 million units have been completed across the country, which could address housing demand for 15 million new urban residents and young people, the ministry said.

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