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Vital Development Plans for Western China
China is going to invest more in the development of its western regions and lay foundations for its further development, officials have said at a news conference at the First session of the 10th National People’s Congress in Beijing Saturday afternoon.

The news conference, held in the Great Hall of the People, was attended by Vice Minister of the State Development Planning Commission Wang Chunzheng and Deputy Director of Office of the Leading Group under the State Council for the Development of the Western Regions Li Zibin. They introduced the development of China’s economy and western regions and answered questions from the press.

Wang said that the “Go West” campaign was an important measure to narrow the gap between developed and under-developed regions.

“Since the strategy was implemented three years ago, great changes have taken place in western regions. Economic growth reached 9.9 percent last year – gradually catching up with the rest of China and great progress has been made in infrastructure construction and eco-system protection,” Wang explained.

He added that central government would give more support to western regions this year also.

Li Zibin added that he thought the “Go West” campaign was vital as it involved 12 provinces with a total area of 6.85 million square km and a population of 367 million people, 28.8 percent of the country’s total.

He said that the existing gap between the east and west of China was for historical reasons and based upon natural resources and geographical location.

“The GDP per capita in the west is only 40 percent of that of the east but the growth rate of GDP in the years, 2000, 2001 and 2002 was 8.5, 8.7 and 9.9 percent, respectively, with an average growth rate of 9 percent. Fixed asset invest in the three years, with an average growth rate of 18.8 percent increased by 12.7, 17.2 and 22.4 percent, respectively.”

Although there is still a long way to go, Li said that rapid growth in the west was strengthened by huge capital input from the government. However, an internal mechanism to promote local economic development had yet to be developed. In the past three years, central government injected 260 billion yuan and transferred over 300 billion yuan to western regions.

Li said that China’s western development was still at a stage of laying its foundations for future development, focusing on infrastructural development, eco-system protection and the development of science and education. He said that the west should take advantage of these funds to develop locally advantageous industries and the speed and depth of development would increase.

“The government in the western regions should change their working style, improve administrative efficiency and set up a modern market economy. This will create a better investment environment for the future,” he added finally.

(China.org.cn by Staff Reporter Tang Fuchun, March 10, 2003)

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