Xi, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks on November 14 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, at a symposium he chaired on comprehensively advancing the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt.
He called for efforts to write a new chapter in prioritizing ecological conservation and boosting green development, create a new model for regional coordinated development, create a new height for high-level opening-up, foster advantages in innovation-led development, and draw a new painting featuring harmony between nature, the people and the cities.
Such efforts are aimed at turning the Yangtze River Economic Belt into the country's main focus for green development, the major artery for a smooth "dual circulation" of domestic and international markets, and the main force spearheading high-quality economic development, he said.
After hearing reports from seven officials that include ministers and provincial Party chiefs, Xi said over the past five years, transitional changes have taken place in the ecological and environmental protection along the Yangtze River Economic Belt while historical achievements have been achieved in the area's economic and social development.
Provinces and municipalities along the Yangtze River have done a good job in handling the COVID-19 epidemic and coping with the shocks brought by huge floods as well as external environmental changes, making a prominent contribution for China to first restore positive growth among major economies, he said.
Xi said that promoting the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt is an important strategy that has a bearing on the overall national development, noting that the Yangtze River Economic Belt consists of 11 provinces and municipalities and accounts for about half of China's population and GDP.
Efforts should be made to strengthen the protection and restoration of ecological and environmental systems and coordinated work of the upper, middle, and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Xi said.
Xi called for comprehensively improving the efficiency of resource utilization and accelerating green and low-carbon development on the premise of strictly protecting the ecological environment.
The restoration of the ecological environment of the Yangtze River should be a major priority, Xi said, adding that the establishment of a mechanism should be accelerated whereby protection and restoration of the ecological environment shall be reasonably rewarded, while those responsible for the ecological environment destruction shall pay their due price.
Xi stressed efforts to explore effective ways conducive to promoting smooth domestic circulation, advance the coordinated development of the upper, middle, and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, promote people-centered new urbanization, and increase people's life quality and income.
To create a new height for high-level opening-up, Xi urged efforts to promote innovative development of trade and make better use of foreign capital.
Provinces and municipalities along the Yangtze River should find their respective positions in the new development pattern of "dual circulation" and take the initiative to open up their markets to the world, Xi said.
Efforts should also be made to better integrate the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt and the Belt and Road Initiative, he added.
Xi stressed the need to accelerate the upgrading of the industrial base and the modernization of the industrial chain.
"We should take bold steps in innovation and focus on the real economy to boost economic development," he said, adding that the country should speed up breakthroughs in key and core technologies.
He also urged efforts to strengthen the dominant position of enterprises in innovation, foster advanced manufacturing clusters with international competitiveness, and build independent, controllable, safe and efficient industrial and supply chains that serve the whole country.
Noting that Yangtze River is the icon of the Chinese nation and the symbol of Chinese civilization, Xi called for protecting, inheriting and carrying forward the Yangtze River culture, as well as protecting its cultural relics and heritage.
He also stressed the need to conduct in-depth research on the key issues that currently constrain the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt.
Vice Premier Han Zheng, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the leading group for promoting the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, attended the symposium.
To promote the development of the economic belt, authorities should apply the new development philosophy throughout the whole process and in all areas, set a good example in promoting high-quality development, and make greater contribution to speeding up the establishment of the new development pattern, Han said.