China to Take Bigger Steps in West Development

China will take bigger strides this year in implementing its western China development strategy, Zeng Peiyan, Minister in charge of the State Development and Planning Commission (SDPC), said Wednesday.

To kick off this year will be 12 major projects, including the Qinghai-Tibet railway and the west-east natural gas pipeline project, Zeng told a press conference sponsored by the ongoing Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC).

The projects will require a total investment in excess of 300 billion yuan, the minister said.

Other work for this year will include the compilation of a five- year plan for western China development and the formulation of detailed rules for the implementation of preferential policies.

The Chinese government set up an office in charge of the western China development last year, which has formulated a package of preferential policies and published a master plan for implementing the strategy, Zeng said. Work has already started on ten major projects, which completed investment of 70 billion yuan. Progress has also been made in restoring farmland once reclaimed from forests and pastures.

The government will also speed up the pace of opening up the western region and draft laws to facilitate the implementation of the western China development strategy, he said.

The minister stressed that western China development is a major economic strategy taken by the Chinese government in the 21st century and that the government is determined to make a breakthrough in infrastructure and ecological construction in five to 10 years.

In response to a question by a Taiwan reporter, the minister said that after the Chinese mainland becomes a WTO member, Taiwan will also join and that will help further promote economic co- operation and trade across the Straits.

He also noted that the accession of the mainland to the WTO will provide investors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao with more opportunities to get access to new areas of investment.

(People’s Daily 03/08/2001)