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W. China Devt Legislation Likely - Sichuan Deputy's Tenacity Pays Off
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West China is home to a third of the country's administrative provinces and autonomous regions. It covers an area of 5.4 million square kilometers, or 56 percent of mainland territory, and has a combined population of over 280 million, or 23 percent of the national total.

These regions have come to be described as "barren, remote, poor, large, yet valuable and beautiful." It lacks transportation facilities and access, and lags behind other parts of the country in terms of development and economy.

This is why one man has spent nearly the last 10 years pushing for greater contribution from the government towards West China development.

Ji Jinshan is an economist with the Southwest University of Finance and Economics, and vice director of the Counselor's Office of the Sichuan provincial government. He was a deputy of the Ninth (1998 - 2002) National People's Congress (NPC), and was re-elected for another term for the Tenth NPC (2003- 2007).

As of March 2006, he had submitted 40 motions and 121 proposals in his capacity as NPC deputy. Among them, 35 motions and 83 proposals had to do with West China.

Ji's first proposal, submitted during the First Session of the Ninth National People's Congress in 1998, put the spotlight on the unbalanced development in the different regions in China. "The expanding gap between the East and the West China regions does no good to reform, national development and social stability, and it will undermine the establishment of a modern enterprise system and a unified national market," he pointed out in his proposal.

The following year, he proposed a West China Development motion, and called for a systematic solution to the growth of underdeveloped regions.

"The most unforgettable thing is that when I inspected western regions together with a national delegation in May 2000, I saw how hard life was in remote areas, the appalling conditions for local school kids and a damaged environment.”

Since then, he has been researching the subject and has written dozens of reports based on his first-hand investigations. In February 2005, he published a book entitled, Opinions on Accelerating the Development of West China.

The Chinese government initiated a West China development strategy in 1999, setting up a national leading office, promulgating preferential policies for western provinces and autonomous regions and promising huge investments in transportation, infrastructure and environment protection.

This, however, was not adequate enough in Ji's opinion. He insisted that legislation was necessary to regulate development and ensure consistent implementation of the policy.

His tenacity paid off. In 2002, his motion was accepted for consideration and has since been put on the legislation agenda.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Ji has now turned his attention to social issues. He is currently garnering mass support for two new proposals that he has submitted at the ongoing NPC session; one proposal concerns countryside construction, and the other relates to the joint-stock reform of core state enterprises.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun, March 11, 2007)

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