Four potential economic growth areas for China's northeast region
Chen Jiahe
Robot arms operating in a BMW Brilliance factory in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province. February 6, 2023. /CFP
Robot arms operating in a BMW Brilliance factory in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province. February 6, 2023. /CFP

Robot arms operating in a BMW Brilliance factory in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province. February 6, 2023. /CFP

Editor's note: Chen Jiahe is chief investment officer at Novem Arcae Technologies. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The northeast region of China is composed of three provinces, namely, Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang. At the end of 2022, around 96 million people were living in this area, accounting for around 6.9 percent of China's population. This article aims at discussing the potential areas of economic growth for the northeast region.

The economic importance of China's northeast region first comes from its geographic location. The northeast region is located in the middle of three important economic entities including Japan, Korean peninsula, as well as Russia's Siberia and Mongolia. A solid and strong economy of the northeast region can bring a massive amount of trading opportunities to these three other regions.

As a result, the first area of economic growth for the northeast region comes from international trade. For example, in the first half of 2023, the total value of international trade of Heilongjiang Province reached 142 billion yuan ($19.3 billion), 16.6 percent more than a year ago. This growth rate ranked 7th among all provinces of China and is ahead of the national growth rate by 14.5 percentage points.

International trade between the northeast region of China, Mongolia and Siberia is particularly important. While economic development is quite moderate for these two economic regions, they are equally rich in natural resources. Therefore, international trade between the northeast region and these two economies can be particularly beneficial to all parties.

The second important area that future growth of the northeast region can rely upon is high-end manufacturing. As a traditional economic hub for China's heavy manufacturing equipment, manufacturing products of the northeast region have played an important role in China's economic history. Although this leading position was later on taken over by rapidly developing regions like Guangdong and Zhejiang, there are still notable manufacturers in the northeast region.

For example, the AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Company is a leading company in China's aircraft manufacturing industry. As a company located in the northeast region, this company has produced some of the leading aircraft in China, both in the civilian and military areas. In 2017, this company became a listed company in the A-share capital market and has brought around 200 percent return to investors since then.

The third economic area that future growth of the northeast region can rely upon is modern agriculture. In China, there are four important areas for the country's agriculture, i.e., the Northeast Plain, the North China Plain, the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain, and the Sichuan Basin. Among these four areas, the farmland of northeast region is considered as the one that offers the best quality of products, mainly due to its lower average temperature and fertile soil.

In 2021, the northeast region produced a total of 183 million tonnes of grain. The overall production of the whole country was 683 million tonnes and total imports were 165 million tonnes. That is to say, the northeast region produced around 27 percent of grain in China, and its production is around 111 percent of total grain imported.

In today's market economy, the future growth of the agriculture industry in the northeast region can come not only from the quantity of its products, but also the quality of its agricultural outputs.

Because of its lower temperature and fertile soil, many agricultural products that come from the northeast region are considered as having better quality. For example, its black fungus is leading the domestic market. Wuchang Rice is another good example. Together with subtle advertisements, this rice brand from the northeast region is now recognized by many Chinese consumers as a symbol of good rice, and its price is now three to four times higher than the average price of rice products.

Finally, there is another economic area where the northeast region can achieve significant growth in the future, which is the tourism industry. Located in the northernmost part of China, the northeast region has two unique tourism conditions that can hardly be matched by other provinces of the country. It is cool enough in the summer, and cold enough in the winter. The former condition can win a large number of tourists for the northeast region in the summer, and the latter can attract the attention of people for the winter tourism industry.

According to data published by Jilin Province, a province located in the middle of the northeast region, in the first half of 2023, this province hosted 120 million tourists, 120 percent more than a year ago. The total income that this province obtained from its tourism industry reached 195 billion yuan ($26.6 billion) within six months, 208 percent higher than a year ago. With the local tourism brand called "Cool Jilin, 22 degrees Celsius in the summer," Jilin is now attracting more and more tourists.

As an important part of the Chinese economy with its own economic advantages, the northeast region can find its own comparative advantages from many important areas. A well-designed economic development plan can bring economic prosperity to this region and its 96 million people.

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