West China needs a fresh approach to develop its economy, and
that strategy must be incorporated into the next five-year plan.
That's the assessment of experts who attended a symposium that
ended in Xi'an.
The 10th Five-Year Plan, (2001-05) which begins in 2001, will
stress the development of western China, a region with many
natural resources. But its economic growth has lagged far behind
other parts of China.
Zhang Daohong, an economist who is also Xi'an's vice-mayor,
said the central government has successfully established several
economic hubs, such as Shenzhen and Shanghai, by pouring a large
amount of money into those areas.
But Zhang, one of the experts at the five-day conference hosted
by the municipal government of Xi'an, the largest city in Western
China, warned that merely throwing huge sums of money into various
parts of the West will not work.
Chen Dongsheng, president of the Association of Regional Economics
in China, added that western China, which is one-fourth of the
country's landmass, should focus on commanding a greater presence
in domestic and foreign markets.
"The government will be a great help in applying suitable
policies and adding effective investment in the region,"
Experts concurred that the massive development plan for the
West should start by turning Xi'an and several other major cities
in the region into economic hubs.
Xi'an government officials and many economists are convinced
that the city will be the region's economic leader in the next
Xi'an, at the junction of East and West China, is seen as having
a huge potential in high technology and tourism.
The city has a number of defence and heavy-industry plants,
a legacy of its history as a manufacturing center. "The
key is exploiting Xi'an's advantages to become more competitive
in the market," said Tan Minxian, one of Xi'an's leading
If the current effort to bring defence and heavy industry into
China's market economy succeeds, Xi'an's defence and manufacturing
businesses will become the pillars of the city's economy, he
"How to get supportive policies from the central government
and attract investors from home and aboard to revitalize the
city's manufacturing industry is still open to debate,"
Tan also said.
Xi'an is tentatively planning to increase its economic investment
about 9 percent annually from 2001 to 2005.
Foreign investment in the same period is estimated at 3.3 billion
yuan (US$397 million), most of which is expected to go to high-tech,
manufacturing and environmental protection.
The city is also planning to become a banking center to create
an attractive investment environment for domestic and foreign
(China Daily 10/28/1999)