Backed by the central government, South China's Guangxi Zhuang
Autonomous Region will transform its coastal cities into a single
economic zone and speed up its cooperation with ASEAN member
"Located on the doorstep of Southeast Asia, Guangxi will become
China's next growth engine," Li Jinzao, vice-chairman of the
autonomous region, said yesterday on the sidelines of the ongoing
session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing.
He said the economic zone covers six coastal cities along the
Beibu Gulf in Guangxi, and a "Broad Beibu Gulf Area" also includes
coastal areas in Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
"We aim to develop the zone into a base for harbor industries
and for China-ASEAN cooperation in logistics, commerce and trade,
as well as in information exchange," Li said, adding that an
administrative committee had been set up to take charge of the
planning and coordination.
But Li said the coastal city of Beihai would never promote
gambling to boost tourism.
"If you want to sunbathe or see a beautiful beach, you are
welcome at the Silver Beach in Beihai. But if you want to gamble,
please go to Las Vegas," he said.
The strategy had received recognition and support from the
central government, according to Li.
He said President Hu Jintao on Friday encouraged Guangxi to
actively participate in multiregional cooperation such as the
establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, and the
development of a "Broad Beibu Gulf Area".
Heavy industries like petrochemicals, paper pulp manufacturing,
iron and steel production, and service industries like tourism and
logistics are high on the area's development plan.
Yin Jianguo, director of the autonomous region's State Assets
Supervision and Administration Commission, who is also in Beijing
attending the NPC meeting, said yesterday that the National
Development and Reform Commission had just approved a PetroChina
oil-refining project with an annual capacity of 10 million tons in
Qinzhou in Guangxi, costing about 15.3 billion yuan (US$2
He said the autonomous region was also applying for a similar
project with Sinopec, but he was not sure whether the central
government would approve it.
In addition, a 56 billion yuan (US$7.18 billion) joint-venture
iron and steel project between Wuhan Iron and Steel (Group) Corp
and Liuzhou Iron and Steel Group would start soon in the coastal
city of Fangchenggang, according to Yin.
In response to the question of whether Guangxi would join hands
with Hong Kong in developing the economic zone, Li said they
welcomed investment from Hong Kong and would encourage enterprises
to make good use of the capital market in the special
He said the zone had been heating up since the development
strategy was released a few months ago, and many businessmen had
approached the area about possible investment opportunities.
(China Daily March 15, 2007)