China will move faster to boost innovation in its national economic and technological development zones in terms of openness, technology and institution building to raise the quality of economic growth and cultivate new pacesetters in the reform and opening up.
The decision was made at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
The Chinese government puts high importance on the innovation-driven development of the national economic and technological development zones. Premier Li Keqiang required that the demonstrative role of the national economic development zones be fully harnessed for better use of foreign investment and relevant policies consistent with law be rolled out to make these zones pacesetters in attracting foreign investment.
Establishing national economic and technological development zones was a major strategic decision China made in the 1980s as part of efforts for wider opening up. With the first zone opened in 1984, 219 such zones have been established so far, focusing on advanced manufacturing and producer services to drive China's urbanization through global cooperation and industrialization. These economic development zones contribute around 10 percent to the national GDP and some 20 percent to the country's foreign trade and foreign investment.
"There is still much untapped potential in these national zones. We must see that their industrial and institutional advantages formed over the years are fully leveraged to nurture new drivers of economic growth." Li said.
The Wednesday meeting identified several key measures to boost the development of these national zones.
The meeting called for steps to reform and innovate the operation and management model in these zones to improve the business environment. The zones will be supported to implement a simpler approval process for investment projects and the practice of pre-commitment of compliance.
Performance in attracting investment will be included as part of the assessment and incentive system in the national zones. Entrepreneurs and innovators working in the zones will enjoy convenience and support in household registration, border entry and exit, children's schooling, housing and venture investment.
"Local governments must foster a more enabling business environment in the national economic development zones, and these zones should be in the forefront of government efforts in regulatory streamlining and effective oversight," Li said.
The meeting called on the national zones to take the lead in fully implementing national policies on promoting technological innovation. The government will scale up support for technological innovation in these zones, including constructing large national science infrastructure and national science and technology innovation bases. More support will be given to talent training bases jointly run by these national zones and vocational schools.
"We must embrace institutional innovation to scale up policy support for innovation in science and technology. This will help ensure that these national zones lead the way in technological innovations across the country," Li said.
The opening up of these zones will be bolstered by attracting private and foreign investors to develop and run industrial parks with distinctive features in them. Organizations, companies and investors from Hong Kong and Macao and foreign countries will be encouraged to participate in the running of international cooperation parks in these zones. Comprehensive bonded zones will be set up.
The government will support pilot programs to facilitate foreign exchange settlement and payments of revenues under the capital account in these national zones where conditions exist.
Attendees of the meeting also decided to promote industrial upgrading in these national zones, including favoring them when deploying key national industrial projects.