V. Implementing the Strategy for Developing the Western Region to Promote Coordinated Progress of Different Areas

Carrying out the strategy for western-region development to accelerate the development of the central and western regions is a major step taken to achieve the strategic goals of the third stage of the country’s modernization drive. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, we need to place emphasis on key projects for a good beginning of the program. Construction of infrastructure and protection of the ecological environment should take priority, and we should strive for major breakthroughs within five to ten years. At the same time, we hope to develop science, technology, and education considerably.

We must focus on a number of major projects of strategic significance, such as the transmission of natural gas and electricity from western to eastern regions and the planned Qinghai-Tibet Railway. We need to give priority to protecting, economizing and exploiting water resources through careful planning and rational allocation in order to ensure better utilization of water. We need to steadily proceed with major projects for protecting natural forests in light of local conditions, returning cultivated land to forests or pastures, preventing and controlling desertification, and protecting grassland. Great attention should be paid to the ecological self-regeneration capacity. We should connect these projects to form an ecological green belt in the western region. We need to vigorously improve education to train professionals and workers much needed in various fields. We need to increase investment in scientific and technological development. Localities should cultivate individualized local economies by exploiting their own strong points, by adjusting and optimizing their industrial system, and by strengthening agriculture. In developing the western region, we need to begin work at places along major transportation routes, such as the Eurasian Continental Bridge, the Yangtze River, and the routes in the southwestern part of the country leading to the sea. Major cities connected by such lines should serve as economic centers and play leading roles in the development of their adjacent areas. We should particularly foster the economic zones along the Tongguan-Lanzhou-Urumqi line, the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, and the Nanning-Guiyang-Kunming line to promote development of the surrounding areas.

The State Council has already promulgated a number of policies and measures to develop the western region. The state will invest more in the west and increase transfer payments from the national budget to local budgets there. However, people in the western region should rely primarily on their own efforts and hard work over the long haul. We need to accelerate reform and opening up and create a sound investment environment to attract more funds, technology and human resources from home and abroad to the western region. We also need to increase the exchange of cadres.

The central region should make use of its regional advantages and its comprehensive advantages of resources to accelerate its pace of economic growth. It should focus on areas with main water and land transportation lines and actively foster new loci of economic growth and new economic belts. It should consolidate and develop agriculture and continue to strengthen construction of infrastructural facilities and ecological projects. It should step up efforts to upgrade traditional industries with high, new and advanced technologies and raise its technological level and competitiveness.

The eastern coastal region should be oriented towards both the domestic and international markets. Priority tasks are to accelerate scientific and technological progress and innovation, to develop industries applying high and new technology, and to develop the internationally-oriented economy to improve its general performance and its competitiveness in the international market. Areas where conditions permit should take the lead in modernization. The eastern region should strengthen its economic and technological cooperation with the central and western regions by various means to support and stimulate their economic development and to increase its own flexibility for structural adjustment and economic growth at the same time.