BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Yangtze River Delta, the country's major economic powerhouse, is to realize modernization goal by 2020, or not much longer, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said here on Thursday.
NDRC Vice minister Du Ying said the delta was to grow into a globally competitive metropolitan area in the next decade, when its industrial structure would be based mostly on service industries.
The area would drastically increase the role of technological innovation in economic development by that time, he said.
In a white paper issued September by the State Council, the country's cabinet, the region was called to fully grow into a well-off society by 2012, eight years in advance of the other regions.
"The Yangtze River Delta would be the leading force in the country's development and reform, and its leading role will only grow bigger," said Du Ying.
Du added the delta region comprises only 2.1 percent of China's land area, but generates about 22.5 percent of the country's GDP, 31.5 percent of tax revenue, and holds 35 percent of the country's foreign investment.
Local statistics showed the delta's GDP exceeded 4.66 trillion yuan (682.21 billion U.S. dollars) in 2007, up 15.2 percent year on year.
Wang Fanghua, a scholar from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, forecast the GDP in the delta would hit 15.95 trillion yuan by 2020, based on the annual growth rate of 11 percent.
As the region is on route to modernization, its plan of building a high-speed railway network is brewing.
According to the plan by the Chinese government, the Yangtze River Delta will build five major railways, including three inter-city railways, namely, Shanghai-Nanjing railway, Nanjing-Hangzhou railway and Shanghai-Hangzhou railway.
The other two railways are the Shanghai-Nantong railway, and the Ningbo-Taizhou-Wenzhou railway.
The Yangtze River Delta covers eastern China's Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces.
The NDRC also revealed it was doing studies on the economic and social development of the Pearl River Delta, another important powerhouse, which comprises 12 percent of the national GDP.
The Pearl River Delta should be given equal importance for development because it is more closely linked with Hong Kong and Macao, Du said.
He added good planning of the region's development would be conducive to the prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao.