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US$125b Spent on Western Infrastructure in Past 6 Years
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A total of one trillion yuan (US$125 billion) has been spent building infrastructure in western China in the past six years, a senior economic official has said.


Wang Jinxiang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told a special conference on western development held Tuesday by the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) that a national strategy to develop the country's western region had led to great progress.


Wang, who is also deputy head of the Leading Group Office under the State Council for the Development of the Western Regions, said China's western regions have reported an annual average economic growth rate of 10.6 percent for six years in a row.


The combined GDP of western regions reached 3.33 trillion yuan last year, compared with 1.66 trillion yuan in 2000, when the central government launched the strategy to help its relatively backward west catch up with the more prosperous east, said Wang.


According to Wang, in the period 2001-2005, net income grew on average 10 percent for urban residents in the west and 6.8 percent for rural residents.


The progress was spurred by increased financial support from central government, said Wang. By the end of 2005, China had launched more than 70 key infrastructure projects in the west, covering fields such as transport, hydropower plants, energy and telecommunications.


NDRC statistics show China has completed 226,000 kilometers of highway and over 4,000 kilometers of railway in the west regions in the past five years.


In addition, the central government has invested more than 122 billion yuan on western environmental protection in the past six years, said Wang.


(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2006)


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