Foreign Investment Sought for West China

The State has vowed to turn its western regions into magnets for foreign investment by improving the investment climate there.

Basic infrastructure (transportation, power and water), human resources development and rules and regulations concerning the setting-up and operation of businesses are the principal components that will be given priority.

"During the process, foreign investment resource development, tourism and banking and finance will be encouraged," said Wang Chunzheng, vice-minister of the State Development Planning Commission (SDPC), China's highest economic planning authority.

Wang's invitation came Wednesday in a two-day international workshop on developing and co-financing China's western regions sponsored by SDPC, the Western Region Development Office of the State Council and the World Bank.

In addition to the foreign investment, the central government will increase its investment and long-term funding in agriculture, ecology, social security, technology, education and culture and relics protection in the area, Wang said.

The World Bank and more than 10 other international financial agencies participating in the workshop supported Wang's proposals.

"In the post-World Trade Organization accession period, with increased involvement in economic activity, foreign investment will also play an instrumental role in opening up out-of-the-way domestic markets," said Mats Karlsson, vice-president of the World Bank.

However, Mats suggested that China should make good use of funding from private pockets in implementing its western region development plan.

"Other than the government budget, the main source of development financing should be equity provided by firms and individuals entrepreneurs, and loans channeled through the financial system," Mats said.

The bank based its suggestion on the fact that the availability, size and range of private funding sources has expanded tremendously over the past 20 years.

(China Daily 07/26/2001)

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