Development of West China to Speed Up

China will speed up its implementation of the "West Development" strategy, Zeng Peiyan, minister of the State Development and Planning Commission (SDPC), told a press conference in Beijing Wednesday.

All 12 major projects to be launched this year, including the Qinghai-Tibet railway and the "west to east natural gas transmission" project, Zeng said, will require a total investment in excess of 300 billion yuan (US$36.14 billion).

An office in charge of the "West Development" program had been set up last year. It has formulated a package of preferential policies and published a master plan for implementing the strategy, Zeng said.

Zeng also said that about 40 percent of year 2000's "ten major projects" task, which the government gave an investment of 70 billion yuan, had been completed and put into production successfully.

Progress has also been made in restoring farmland once reclaimed from forests and pastures.

The minister stressed the "West Development" a major economic strategy taken by the Chinese government in the 21st century. Therefore, in the coming five to ten years, the government is determined to make a breakthrough in infrastructure and ecological construction.

When asked about China's active fiscal policy, the top planner firmly said that precaution against and curtailing deflation while preventing inflation will be the main tasks of this year's macro-economic control.

He said that the economic downturn began in 1993 was arrested last year and prices also returned to normal from successive negative growths.

However, the foundation for growth was still not secure. Most commodities are in excessive supply; income growth of more than 70 percent of the rural population is slow; the purchasing power is limited; and investment by the private sector is inactive. Many uncertainties that have cropped up in the international economy, including the recent slowdown of the US economy, will affect China's foreign trade.

Under such circumstances, he said, curtailing deflation while preventing inflation is quite necessary.

The minister also provided some indicators:

The country will strive to bring the per capita annual income up to an estimated 8,000 yuan from 6,280 yuan in urban areas and to 3,000 yuan from 2,550 yuan in rural areas.

The living environment for both urban and rural residents will be improved too, with the forest coverage in the country as a whole to reach 18.2 percent and the urban green coverage to reach 35 percent.

The urban housing proportion should reach 22 square metre per person while the rural residents will share an even larger one.

In response to a question by a Taiwan reporter, Zeng said that after the Chinese mainland becomes a WTO member, Taiwan will also join and that will help further promote economic co-operation and trade across the Straits.

He also noted that the accession of the mainland to the WTO will provide investors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao with more opportunities to get access to new areas of investment.

(China Daily 03/08/2001)

In This Series

Development Goals Set for 2001

Chinese Economy Takes Turn for Significant Improvement

China to Step up Health Work in Western Areas

West Set to Reverse the Brain Drain

Plan Promises Greater Progress for West’s Grasslands



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