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Guangxi deputies just love Beibu Bay
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National lawmakers from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region have a pet topic at the ongoing parliamentary session in Beijing: The Beibu Bay Economic Zone, which is slated to become an engine of growth for the country.

Before they left for the annual session of the NPC, the legislators visited the zone's landmarks, and now they are taking every opportunity to publicize it and solicit support.

Ma Biao, chairman of Guangxi, said the Beibu Bay Economic Zone is among the first in the country to pilot "development priority zoning", a stipulation Premier Wen Jiabao made in his work report last week.

In his annual policy address to the country's top legislature, Wen pledged to promote balanced development among different regions.

The government work report is currently open for comment and under deliberation by NPC deputies.

Ma, a lawmaker himself, proposed the government work report makes it clear the country will vigorously support the zone's growth, as much as it has done with the Binhai area.

Over the past few years, the central government has endorsed blueprints for developing the western region, revitalizing the northeastern industrial belt, and accelerating growth of the Bohai Sea Rim area in the north. All have turned out to be engines for regional growth.

Designated a national economic zone in mid-January to help narrow regional disparity, Beibu Bay is strategically important to deepening China's cooperation with the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as it is a gateway to its member countries, Ma said.

Chen Wu, a legislator from Nanning, the Guangxi capital, said the central government has offered an aid package including the building of bonded ports and logistics systems.

More support is likely to follow to help the region take off, he said.

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