Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

China Plans Targeted Measures to Lift Hard-Hit Northeast Economy

  • National Development and Reform Commission plans 137 projects
  • Provinces have shown some positive signs, NDRC spokesman says

China’s main government agency for economic planning and reform plans to issue a three-year plan for boosting growth in the hard-hit northeastern rustbelt provinces.

The National Development and Reform Commission will outline 137 major initiatives and targeted policies to support Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, spokesman Zhao Chenxin told reporters Tuesday at briefing in Beijing.

"The three provinces have actively faced downward pressure, but have seen some positive changes," Zhao said at a briefing on Tuesday. Economic growth improved from the first quarter, but "sharp divergence is still seen among regions."

The region posted some of the country’s strongest growth rates when smokestack industries powered an unprecedented building spree. It now sags under the weight of excess capacity in steel and coal as the world’s second-largest economy shifts toward services, which accounted for more than half of output last year for the first time.

The three provinces have been among China’s slowest-growing economies for more than two years. Liaoning posted a 1 percent contraction in the first half of the year, while Heilongjiang expanded 5.7 percent and Jilin 6.7 percent, Zhao said.

The country as a whole failed to reach overcapacity cut targets for both coal and steel in the first half, Zhao said. As of July, about 95 million tons of coal capacity and 21 million tons of steel capacity were cut, less than half the fiscal year objective for both, he said. Progress is uneven among regions and areas with the most overcapacity worry that reducing it will erode economic growth, Zhao said.