China pledged to boost the social and economic development of its remote and poor border regions, under a plan unveiled by the central government on Friday.
China will try to "elevate the overall social and economic status of border counties to the average level of the provinces and autonomous regions in which they are located", according to the plan titled "revitalizing the borders and enriching the people".
The plan, which will run until 2010, said central and local governments will increase investment in "border issues, welfare and infrastructure construction in border regions".
Financial institutions will have to actively respond to legitimate needs for loans in border regions and policy banks will give preferential treatment to these regions in infrastructure construction, the plan said.
China will also upgrade straw dwellings and dilapidated buildings in the regions, in a step-up effort to establish a minimum guaranteed living standard.
In April, the central government said it would dole out 300 million yuan (US$38.8 million) every year for the next four years into the development of 22 ethnic minority groups.
Most ethnic minority groups live in impoverished western regions and border areas in 10 provinces or autonomous regions such as southwestern Yunnan, Guizhou, Tibet and northwestern Xinjiang and northern Inner Mongolia.
They had an annual per-capita net income of 884 yuan at the end of 2003, far below the average of 2,622 yuan for rural residents, according to statistics from the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.
(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2007)