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The Eight Key Tasks for Future W. China Development
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Eight key tasks will form the highlight of further development in West China, according to guidelines on western development strategy as contained in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), said Wang Jinxiang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Tuesday in Beijing. Wang was addressing a conference on western development held by the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The plans for further development aim to realize economic development and a steady increase in living standards, achieve new breakthroughs in infrastructure and ecological environment construction, promote the development of key industries, and enhance public services.

The eight key tasks are:

1. To facilitate the construction of the new socialist countryside by accelerating modern agricultural development and improving living conditions in western rural areas.

2. To further infrastructure construction, a total of one trillion yuan (US$125 billion) has already been spent and more than 70 key infrastructure projects have been launched in the past six years. NDRC statistics show that China has constructed 226,000 kilometers of highway and over 4,000 kilometers of railway over the past five years. These efforts will continue through new projects in transportation, civil aviation, hydropower, and telecommunications systems. Some of these new projects include a second west-east gas pipeline and overland oil pipeline.

3. To boost pillar industries such as energy and chemicals, mining and processing, farming and animal husbandry, heavy machinery manufacture, high-tech, tourism and culture.

Over the next five years, the Shaanxi provincial government has pledged to give increased support to industries such as aviation and aeronautics, precision instrument manufacturing through related land and taxation policies.

In Xinjiang, which accounts for 30 percent of China's domestic oil reserves, 34 percent of natural gas reserves, and 40 percent of coal reserves, the focus will be on developing these energy industries by establishing coal-electric and coal-chemical bases, and oil and gas processing projects.

Western China has 60 percent of China's coal reserves, 66 percent of natural gas, 86 percent of hydropower, 52 percent of iron, 68 percent of manganese, 72.1 percent of chromium, 72 percent of vanadium, 95 percent of titanium and much of the country's sylvite as well.

In relation to agriculture, 10 production bases will be established for cotton, sugar, tobacco, fruit, flower, tea, potatoes, livestock and forest products, and herbal medicines.

Special tourism programs will be created featuring zones such as the Silk Road, and the ecological zone on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

4. To accelerate the development of key sectors. These would include cross-regional economic zones like the Chengdu-Chongqing economic zone, key cities and their satellite towns, areas rich in resources, border cities and ports, and areas inhabited by ethnic minorities.

5. To strengthen ecological and environment protection, and improve resource conservation efforts in the 17 areas specifically listed in the 11th Five-Year Plan.

6. To improve and realize the equalization of public services in western region.

7. To develop talent recruitment by improving salaries, allowances and subsidies especially in remote, undeveloped and minority inhabited areas. Further, more training would be offered.

8. To establish and improve the long-term mechanisms of state support, regional coordination, enterprise development, resources development and management, foreign economic exchange and cooperation, and government services.

The guidelines will be submitted to the State Council for approval before the end of September. It is the first set of five-year guidelines on promoting regional development.

( by Li Shen, September 7, 2006)

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