GUANGDONG • President Xi Jinping has urged a greater focus on quality to overcome increased global uncertainty, as he began a sweep through China’s southern manufacturing powerhouse of Guangdong province.
The Chinese leader made his latest pitch for “self-reliance” on Monday during a visit to the Chaozhou Three-Circle Group, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
He told workers at the Shenzhen-listed company, which produces advanced ceramics for most major Chinese mobile phone makers, to grasp the leadership’s intentions and find places in China’s “grand strategy”.
“Currently, we are experiencing changes unseen in a century, and we need to set ourselves on a path to higher quality self-reliance,” Mr Xi said, in an oft-used allusion to US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies.
“Self-dependent innovation is key for enterprises’ growth, industry upgrading and high-quality economic development.”
President Xi’s trip through the Pearl River Delta, which has an annual economic output larger than Indonesia’s, was expected to bolster his Greater Bay Area plan to build the region into a global technology hub.
The Greater Bay Area development scheme aims to integrate Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and seven other major Guangdong cities and transform the southern Chinese region into an economic powerhouse.
Mr Xi was slated to outline his latest policies today in a speech in Shenzhen to mark the 40th anniversary of the city’s establishment as a special economic zone.
China’s trade war with the United States and the pandemic-driven economic downturn have increased the urgency of Beijing’s efforts to increase local consumption and close the technology gap in strategic industries.
In recent months, Mr Xi has urged a shift to a “dual-circulation” economy fuelled by domestic growth and supplemented by foreign technology and investment.
President Xi is also scheduled to meet the leaders of Hong Kong and Macau as he seeks to leverage the former colonies’ separate trade and legal systems to help make the broader region more competitive.
The Communist Party intends to build Shenzhen into a “socialist pilot zone with Chinese characteristics” over the next five years.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam this week said “there need not be direct competition between Hong Kong and Shenzhen” as her government works to boost an economy pushed into recession by Covid-19 and months of protests against China’s increasing grip.
“We have freedom of capital flow and currency exchange, a legal system in line with international standards and a large pool of professional talent,” Mrs Lam told Shenzhen Satellite TV.
“These can complement Shenzhen’s technological capabilities and advanced manufacturing.”
The export-oriented reform and opening-up of Shenzhen has transformed the once-sleepy fishing village into a bustling metropolis of more than 13 million people. It is home to numerous multinational companies including Huawei Technologies and Tencent Holdings.
Mr Xi yesterday also inspected the People’s Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps in Chaozhou in Guangdong, and stressed the aim to build it into an elite force.