China has pledged to strive for a major breakthrough in infrastructure construction and environmental development in its western region in five to ten years to create a good start for western development.
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji made the remark when making an explanation on the Proposal for Formulating the 10th Five-year Plan (2001-2005) for National Economic and Social Development at the Fifth Plenum of the 15th CPC Central Committee last week.
The proper restructuring of the regional economy is a significant part of the overall strategy of national economic restructuring, Zhu said.
"We should seek every opportunity to implement the western development strategy to achieve a coordinated development among different regions of the country, and at the same time promote the urbanization process both actively and properly," he said.
Developing the west is an "arduous" historic task brought forth by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's vision of achieving common prosperity in regional economic development, Zhu pointed out.
In Deng's view, in the initial stage of China's development, the middle and western regions would have to support the opening and growth of the eastern coastal regions. In the second stage, when the coastal regions have gained strength, it would be their turn to help the middle and western regions.
Zhu said that western development is of great economic and political significance and needs several generations' persevered efforts. "Therefore, we should have a strong sense of urgency and get mentally prepared for the long-term efforts." he said.
Zhu pointed out that infrastructure construction, environmental protection, science and education should be given priority in western development. A number of key projects like the project to pipe natural gas and electricity from the west to eastern areas, should also be given keen attention, he added.
"The Chinese government will soon introduce new favorable policies to support western development," Zhu disclosed, adding that these policies include an increase of funds into infrastructure construction, promotion of the opening-up of the west and incentives to attract overseas investment.
"All these favorable policies will be gradually perfected through actual practice," Zhu stressed.
Zhu also urged eastern coastal regions to actively engage in western development and take concrete measures to help the region's development.
"It is not only required by the national economic development, but will also provide new development opportunities for the east itself," Zhu said.
"The implementation of the western development strategy is by no means implying a slowdown in eastern development," Zhu noted. He said that the eastern development was and will continue to be crucial, both financially and technologically, to the national economy.
(People's Daily 10/19/2000)