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Energy Resources Boost W. China Development
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West China's abundant mineral and energy resources will go a long way towards boosting the region's development, which must be tempered by the guiding principles of environment protection and sustainable development, according to Li Xiangzhi, the secretary of the Communist Party of China Dazhou Municipal Committee who is attending the ongoing session of the 10th National People's Congress in Beijing.

The central government initiated a West China development strategy in 1999, with the aim of boosting its development through massive investment and preferential policies. As pointed out in the Government Work Report by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on March 5, priority is given to projects such as infrastructure construction, environment protection, technology and those that promote local industry.

West China, composed of 12 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, 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, and large," but are known for their beautiful sceneries and abundant mineral and energy resources.

Li said that Dazhou is one such beautiful and resource-abundant region.

The estimated reserve of natural gas in Dazhou is 3.8 trillion cubic meters. Of this, a reserve with 600 billion cubic meters has already been identified. The Tarim Basin in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Erdos Basin in Inner Mongolia, and Dazhou in Sichuan Province are the three largest natural gas reserves in China.

Backed by its abundant energy resource, the Dazhou city government mapped out a plan in 2005 to build a natural gas and chemical base.

"We have already started some projects, mainly large-scale, technology-intensive and high-profit ones and these industrial projects will lay a solid foundation for further development in the future," Li told china.org.cn.

Sinopec and PetroChina, two of the country's biggest oil giants, have invested in the city. They are preparing billions of funds for natural gas prospecting and exploitation, and the construction of affiliated facilities. Last December, the city government put forward 78 gas-related projects for investment during a trade fair. Deals of 14 large-scale projects were clinched at the fair, involving investments of about 12.232 billion yuan (US$1.579 billion).

Li explained that the city will accelerate natural gas utilization with the aim of eventually building an industrial chain, which will help ongoing adjustments to the city's industrial structure. To improve its overall industrial strength, the city plans to shore up five main sectors: coal, power, metallurgy, chemicals and building materials.

Applying the principles of developing new-style industries and a circular economy, the city has also set environment protection high on its agenda. Li said: "We implement high standards of security and environment protection when introducing projects, so that we can prevent pollution and security troubles from the word 'Go'."

In 2006, Dazhou City recorded a gross domestic product (GDP) of 40.04 billion yuan (US$5.168 billion), up 12.8 percent from the same period the previous year. Disposable yearly income of urban residents reached 7,206 yuan (US$930) – 665 yuan (US$85.8) more than in 2005 – while farmers' net incomes reached 3,124 yuan (US$403), or 181 yuan (US$23.7) more than in 2005. Local fiscal revenue hit 1.147 billion yuan (US$148 million), up 31.6 percent from the year before.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun, March 15, 2007)

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