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First ADB-aided Socioeconomic Development Strategy Launched

China's first research report on the socioeconomic development strategy of China's Hebei Province, drawn up by Chinese and foreign experts with aid from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), was released in Beijing on Wednesday.
The research report is the product of a technical assistance (TA) project approved by the bank in November 2002, and financed with a US$600,000 grant from its Asian Development Fund, according to the ADB. The TA cost a total of US$800,000, of which the Hebei provincial government contributed US$200,000.

This is the first time the bank has assisted a Chinese province in preparing its development strategy.
Hebei Province in north China, despite its coastal location and proximity to Beijing and Tianjin, has lagged behind other coastal provinces over the last two decades in terms of output growth, employment growth, economic diversification, productivity improvements, and social development.
The ADB TA project is expected to help the provincial government formulate a socioeconomic development strategy that takes advantage of Hebei's easy access to Beijing, Tianjin, and thereby global markets.
In about 11 months, Chinese and foreign experts working for the TA project produced a four-volume report which comprises strategic considerations for Hebei Province's development; strategic considerations from an international perspective; and sector studies including poverty alleviation, the environment, industrial restructuring, urbanization, Bohai coastal development, hi-tech development, tourism, investment financing, and fiscal reform; and 17 international case studies in seven sectors.
According to Guo Gengmao, deputy governor of Hebei Province, experts from Shanghai, Canada and the United States who worked on the report were invited through international tenders.
Peng Longyun, economics officer with the ADB's Resident Mission in China, said: "In fact, the Hebei government used the TA report as a reference document in formulating its 11th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development."
So far the ADB's total lending to Hebei Province stands at US$766 million for two expressway projects, one environmental protection project, a power plant, and one wastewater treatment project.

(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2005)

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