China's State Council, or Cabinet, approved a program on Saturday to map out specific development strategies for different regions in a bid to boost economic development and, at the same time, ensure the protection of the environment.
According to a statement released after a regular meeting of the State Council, the country's various regions should have their own development focus and priority according to their environmental features, natural resources, current development stage and development potential.
The Cabinet noted that detailed plans and policies should be made for these "development priority zones" in terms of population distribution, economic layout, land utilization and the level of urbanization.
"To map out and implement the plan, a new development concept must be set up in order to promote basic principles such as improving people's living standard and the capacity for sustainable development," said the statement.
Under the plan, the country's regions are to be categorized into four types: optimized development; major development; restricted development; not for development.
The plan calls for regions of optimized development to speed up procedures for the transformation of their economic growth methods and boost their economic efficiencies by promoting independent innovation and participating in the global market competition.
Those regions targeted for major development are directed to quicken the process of urbanization and develop more hi-tech, low-cost industries for economic development.
The southwestern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, the northwestern Loess Plateau, the northeastern forest areas, the southern highland and major rivers and lakes are categorized as regions for restricted development.
These regions "affect the national ecological safety" and should focus on environmental protection and rehabilitation in order to build places where "humans and nature live in harmony," noted the statement. In addition, more than 1,300 national natural reserves, national forest parks, landscape sites and other key natural locations are to be designated as forbidden areas for economic development and should be placed under "compulsory protection," the statement directed.
The program also specified the scale, goals, direction and principles for the development of different zones.
In addition, a draft law on protecting the country' intangible cultural heritage was discussed and approved at the meeting. The law specifies the definition of intangible cultural heritage and set down the procedures for investigating and certifying an intangible cultural heritage item.
The meeting was presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.