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Mayor Hopes 2008 Games Will Improve Beijing

Hosting the 2008 Olympic Games will present both challenges and opportunities, said Beijing Mayor Liu Qi on Friday in a season of the local legislature.

Liu urged the city to assist in attracting investment with the high visibility of the Games, by creating a better economic and social environment.

He expects this year's investment in fixed assets to reach 169 billion yuan (US$20.4 billion).

A considerable proportion of this will be used to finish key construction projects, start Olympic-related construction, improve infrastructure facilities and renovate run-down neighborhoods.

The municipal government should focus its efforts on the preparation of sports, transportation, communication and cultural facilities to host a successful 2008 Olympic Games.

"We will kick off the first batch of projects this year,'' said Liu.

Along with large-scale construction, Beijing will also zero in on environmental protection, he said.

The number of days that the city's air pollution index reaches or exceeds Grade II in national standards should be 55 per cent this year, he added. Last year it was 50.7 per cent.

The garbage recycling rate will also increase from 85.1 per cent in 2001 to 88 per cent by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, a large modern sewage treatment factory at Qinghe will open, adding 200,000 cubic meters to the city's daily sewage treatment capacity.

The city welcomes foreign and non-governmental funding for the Olympic projects and the follow-up development of the Qinghe sewage treatment factory, said Shen Baochang, director of the Beijing Municipal Development Planning Commission.

Liu also promised to allow more Chinese and overseas investor involvement in the city's development.

Beijing's economy experienced rapid growth in the past three years. Its gross domestic product (GDP) for 2001 reached 281.76 billion yuan (US$34 billion), up by 11 per cent over the previous year.

The per capita disposable income of urban residents was 11,578 yuan (US$1,400), while that of the rural residents reached 5,099 yuan (US$615), up by 11.9 and 12.7 per cent respectively over the previous year.

Jia Qinglin, a leading Beijing official, said earlier that Beijing has already caught up with some of the world's moderately developed nations.

(China Daily January 26, 2002)

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