At present, speeding up the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB) is an important strategic measure for promoting the sustained and stable growth of the Chinese economy under the New Normal state. As the main axis of China's national territorial development, the Yangtze River Economic Belt has significant locational advantages, navigation and shipping advantages, and relatively complete industrial system, therefore the economy accounted for about 45% of the national total in 2014. At the same time, it also faces some major cross-regional issues, which will restrict its future development. By examining the main development characteristics of the Yangtze River Economic Belt since the reform and opening-up, this article analyzes the main issues that present in the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt with respect to economic growth, spatial development, shipping, industry, resources and environment, urbanization, and institutions. The main problems include slow economic growth, widening regional gaps, insufficient use of water transport, homogeneity of industrial structure, low urbanization level, lack of institutional arrangements for cross-regional issues and regional cooperation. The article also discusses the main short-term developmental strategies and measures of the Yangtze River Economic Belt in order to provide some references for the government and academic circles.