Deputy Li Fashen is a passionate exponent of the development of western China and at the First Session of the 10th NPC he is putting forward some of his ideas. As president of Lanzhou University, for 10 years, itself situated in the west, he has some real experience of what he is talking about.
“In the west, universities are like sand stations attempting to battle with the endless encroachment of the desert,” says Li Fashen. As university president he is familiar with the strategic position occupied by these organizations.
His university has done pretty well in that regard and can boast courses in many disciplines that include organic chemistry, ecology, geography and regional economics. The university also specializes in research areas that reflect local concerns such as atmosphere studies, plant physiology and glacial studies to name a few.
The university has always tried to hold true to its slogan as a first-class university with a western Chinese perspective. Li Fashen was born and grew up there and naturally holds strong personal feelings of his homeland. He hopes for great changes.
As a deputy for several terms, he has delivered many congress proposals which reflect his interest in the relationship between the east and west of China. He believes that the differences in place reflect differences in development. This gap he suggests reflects the development task at hand and can be seen in the government’s projects to turn farm land into forestry and grassland, upgrade infrastructures and deepen reform. He says:
“The aim of developing the west campaign can be understood in terms of filling the development gap and harmonizing the development of the whole nation.”
After years of observation and contemplation, he points out that the government has now begun to address the issues of the differences between the two parts of China but there are still huge disparities between economic growth, GDP and average income in the two areas.
Speaking in broad terms, he suggests that the solutions lie with government plans and puts forward the idea of a warning system to tackle imbalanced economic development all over China and a critical index system that would allow departments to know exactly what is happening and why it is happening in concerned parts of China.
However, the deputy is happy with the 16th Party Congress report which mentioned a greater and fairer distribution of development finance. He has suggested that state support should invest more in the cultural infrastructure of Gansu Province, maintaining its original policy to favor the province as a place of development because of the high proportion of ethnicities that occupy the region.
(China.org.cn by Staff Reporter Yan Xinxia, translated by Li Liangdu, March 17, 2003)