China and Vietnam Wednesday signed an agreement to build an economic and trade cooperation zone in Haiphong, the third largest city in the Southeast Asian country.
Premier Wen Jiabao welcomes Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, October 22, 2008. [China Daily]
The zone will be modeled on Shenzhen, China's first special economic zone and the leading city in its reforms.
The mayors of Shenzhen and Haiphong signed the agreement in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to build the 800-hectare China-Vietnam economic and trade cooperation zone.
The pact was inked after Premier Wen Jiabao held an hour-long meeting with visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
The foundation for the zone will be laid in December, and the cost of its infrastructure construction will be about US$200 million. More than 170 companies are likely to set up shop there, investing up to US$5 billion.
The zone will be divided into two parts, with one for light industries, including apparel and electronics, and the other dedicated to sectors such as logistics.
The idea of setting up such an economic zone was reportedly mooted during President Hu Jintao's visit to Vietnam in 2006. Later, Shenzhen designated Vietnam as a favored investment destination.
The two sides inked seven other agreements, including one on preferential loan from the Export-Import Bank of China to Vietnam and another on a strategic cooperation between China's third largest oil company, China National Offshore Oil Corp., and Petro Vietnam. The two sides agreed to set up a hotline, too, linking leaders of the two neighbors.
At his meeting with President Hu Jintao, Dung said his country would follow the spirit of "comrades plus brothers" in seeking a permanent solution to the territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
Hu and Wen held talks with visiting Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, too. The two countries signed two documents of cooperation on technology innovation and to fight climate change.
China's top leaders will have a busier day today. Hu and Wen will hold up to 15 bilateral meetings with visiting foreign VIPs as world leaders start arriving in Beijing for the two-day 7th Asia-Europe Meeting, which begins on Friday.
(China Daily October 23, 2008)