China will move faster to boost innovation in its national economic and technological development zones in terms of openness, technology and institution building to cultivate new pacesetters in the country's reform and opening-up, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Wednesday.
"There is still much untapped potential in our economic development zones. We must see that their industrial and institutional advantages formed over the years are fully leveraged and nurture new drivers of economic growth," Li said.
The meeting on Wednesday 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 their business environment. The zones will be supported to implement a simpler process in issuing permits for investment projects and the practice of pre-commitment in terms 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 investment.
"Local governments must foster a more enabling business environment in the national economic development zones, and these zones should be at the forefront of government efforts in regulatory streamlining and effective oversight," Li said.
The government will also 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 the 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 innovation 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. 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 revenue under the capital accounts in these national zones where conditions permit.
Participants in the meeting also decided to promote industrial upgrading in these national zones, including favoring them when deploying key national industrial projects.
National economic and technological development zones were first set up in China during the 1980s as part of efforts for wider opening-up, and there are 219 such zones in China. They contribute around 10 percent to national GDP and some 20 percent to the country's foreign trade and foreign investment.