Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has urged greater efforts to promote the sustainable and healthy development of the country’s western regions.

China has made remarkable progress since it initiated a strategy to develop its vast western areas in 2000. The 13th Five-Year (2016-2020) Plan period is a crucial time for western regions to realize transformation and upgrading, Li said at a conference on Friday.

The country should push forward supply-side structural reform, expand demand moderately, boost innovation, continue to implement the west development strategy, and strengthen the coordination of it with other major strategies such as the Belt and Road Initiative and development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, he said.

The fundamental way to develop the regions is to enhance their endogenous growth through innovation and reform and opening-up, Li said.

More efforts should be done to streamline administrative approvals, reduce taxation and fees, cut transaction costs, improve business environment, promote entrepreneurship, encourage private capital to participate in the development of the western regions.

Li stressed the importance of infrastructure construction and ecological protection in promoting the western regions’ sustainable development. He urged efforts to protect the environment, improve road and water infrastructure, and ensure the quality of drinking water for rural residents.

Environmentally-friendly industries that can employ a large workforce are encouraged to move to the western regions. Investors are also encouraged to build factories there.

Li called for efforts to develop advanced manufacturing sector and emerging sectors, and promote the development of industries with ethnic characteristics such as medicine and traditional handicraft.

He added that in order to improve people’s livelihoods, targeted and precise measures should be adopted to alleviate poverty. More education and health care resources should be channeled to the western regions, and basic public services should be increased.

The west development strategy covers 11 provinces and autonomous regions including Gansu, Guizhou, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Inner Mongolia and Guangxi, in addition to Chongqing Municipality. The regions account for more than two thirds of the nation’s territory, with a population making up over 20 percent of the nation’s total.