FAW-Volkswagen employees work on an assembly line at the automaker's Tianjin plant. [Provided to China Daily] The North China city of Tianjin expects its GDP growth this year to hit 6.5 percent compared to 1.5 percent in 2020, said Mayor Liao Guoxun on Monday. Liao made the remarks during the opening of the Fifth Session of the 17th Tianjin Municipal People's Congress. "After the traditional industrial hub saw a major industrial upgrading after the GDP slide in recent years, it has shown a clear sign of recovery," Liao said. The city saw its GDP growth tumble from 9 percent in 2016 to 3.8 percent in 2017. Now, strong momentum in its manufacturing sector has helped propel GDP growth. Last year, despite the impact from COVID-19, the port city's manufacturing sector grew for seven straight months. During the period, the sector contributed 72.9 percent of industrial output among all local enterprises each with industrial output above 20 million yuan ($3.9 million). In particular, its equipment manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing sectors surged by 7.8 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, 6.2 percentage points and 3 percentage points higher than the city's average. The city has assigned the manufacturing sector as its economic pillar during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), becoming the only area among the country's municipalities and provinces to designate the sector as a chief economic pillar. The move coincidences with some Western countries' campaign to revitalize traditional manufacturing in recent years, experts said. Sun Minghua, head of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development research center at Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, said, "The manufacturing sector in Tianjin is expected to drive synergistic growth within the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, and the region is encouraged to take the manufacturing sector as a new engine." Sun, who is also a member of the Tianjin Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, called for greater optimization among the three areas' industrial chains in a bid to foster manufacturing clusters, with combined output for the region aiming to exceed 100 billion yuan. To boost the sector, the mayor also announced that local high-tech research would be sped up. Wang Minqiang, a deputy to the local people's congress and Party secretary of the Tianjin electromechanical branch under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China－China's leading aircraft manufacturer－said the country's only fire prevention laboratory for the aviation sector will be put into service in Tianjin in June, becoming the third of its kind in the world. Late last year, AVIC and the local government announced an investment of 1 billion yuan to set up an aviation industrial park in the city. During the period, Airbus also announced Tianjin would be a hub for its aircraft deliveries and assembly. So far, Airbus has delivered 509 aircraft assembled in Tianjin. The Tianjin center, which has been in operation for 12 years, has helped Airbus increase its market share in the country.