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Economy of Northeast China
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China's northeast is considered a “gateway” to Russia and Northeast Asia. A good transportation network of inland waterways, railways, highways, and airlines provides access to the region, particularly to Harbin, Qiqihar, Daqing, Jilin City, and Changchun - the key centers of economic development. Harbin and Jiamusi are the principal ports on the Songhua River.

Changchun is the home of the automobile industry in northeast China . Other industrial concerns include chemical, food processing, and a host of secondary and tertiary industries. Jilin has become a key location for the national chemical industry, producing inorganic and organic chemicals. Harbin, Daqing, and Qiqihar have heavy electric, chemical, oil/gas, chemical fiber, plastic, lumber, and textile industries. Daqing is best known for its oilfields, the largest in China. Qiqihar has metallurgy, machine tool, gold mine, and other industries. The Sanjiang Plain is primarily agricultural, dominated by wheat, rice, and soy bean production by the State Farms, and the forest and lumber industries. Tourism potential is high but undeveloped. Coal mining is important in Hegang, Qitaihe, and other municipalities of Heilongjiang and is becoming an important sector in Inner Mongolia where 150 mines are already in operation in small Xing'anmeng Prefecture. Inner Mongolia ranks third in China in terms of mineral reserves. Inner Mongolia's economy is typically agricultural, limited terraced cultivation, combined with forestry and animal husbandry. The basin's economic development is a mix of heavy industries and industrialized agricultural. Modern agricultural equipment (small tractors, combine harvesters, multi-purpose tractors) is increasingly used for field preparation and harvesting. Nearly one fifth of agricultural land is irrigated, much lower than China 's national average. Agriculture in central and southwestern parts of the basin in China is heavily dependent on irrigation. Cultivated land per person in the Amur-Heilong basin is two to three times the national average of 0.08 ha (1995) (0.24 ha in Heilongjiang , 0.24 ha in Inner Mongolia, and 0.15 ha in Jilin ).

Heilongjiang surpasses the other two provinces both in terms of GDP and annual gross value of industrial and agricultural output. This is mainly due to outputs of heavy industries and the largest oilfield in the country at Daqing. It has a larger land area than the other two provinces and has more natural resources.

The northeast region played a major role in modern China 's industrial development. It produced the first steel, machine tools, locomotives, and planes after the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 and still has potential in these industries. The central government launched 150 state-level key heavy industry projects during the first several years after the founding of the PRC, one-third of which were built in this region. These projects were in the iron and steel, chemicals, heavy machinery, automobiles, and defense industries.

However, many of the traditional industrial enterprises were established in the 1950s when China operated under a planned economy. These have since become less competitive. At least 70 percent of enterprises in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Inner Mongolia are state owned enterprises (SOEs), which are notoriously uncompetitive. Some have been losing money for nearly 30 years while China transformed its planned economy into a market economy.

The region's contribution to national industrial output has declined to 9 percent from its former high of 17 percent. Some declining SOEs have closed, resulting in massive unemployment. Mineral reserves in approximately 20 northeastern cities are nearly depleted, resulting in local economic crisis due to closure of the mines and associated service industries. In 2003 the Government of China launched new policy for “Revitalization of Old Industrial Bases of the North-East

Map collection: Environmental impacts of economic development



GLOBIO human impact assesment

Human footprint and ecoregions of Amur

Human footprint and protected areas coverage

Threats to biodiversity in Southern Russian Far East

Industrial Development in Songhua River Basin (ADB 2005)


GIS: Human footprint


Web-site: Programs “Development of Russian Far East and Transbaikalia” “Development of East Siberia and the Far East” and their environmental implications: link to projects and atlas


Villages are converted into modern urban areas much faster than locals adjust to it. Heihe City. (Photo by E.Simonov)

Also look:

Economic development:

Sustainable future of Amur-Heilong

Russia – status of economy

Mongolia – status of economy

Russia-China cooperation

Mongolian Foreign Trade and Cooperation

Mongolian trade diagrams-2003

Comparison table on Eastern Mongolia and Xinganmeng China

Comparison table on southern RFE and Heilongjiang Province, China

Policy for Revitalizing Old industrial Bases in NE China


Cumulative impacts -how much is affected?

Human Impacts and Threats to Biodiversity

Threats to major ecosystems in the Russian Far East Ecoregion-table


"Strategic considerations on environmental issues of Revitalizing Old industrial Bases in NE China"

"Strategy Recommendations"

Our questions on "Strategy Recommendations"

Gloomy forecast of the future environmental impacts

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