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10-year Plan in Place for 'New Western China'

China is trying to achieve satisfactory development in western parts of the country in five to 10 years and to establish a "new western China" by the middle of this century, one of the leading officials implementing the policy said Wednesday.

At the end of the period, people in the region will enjoy economic prosperity, social stability, ethnic unity and a beautiful landscape, according to Ning Jizhe, a senior official with the office of the Leading Group for the Development of Western China of the State Council.

To achieve results, China will speed up building a sound infrastructure in the region, which geographically covers 12 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, he said.

Water conservancy, energy, telecommunications and urban facilities have been put at the top of the agenda. Ning was speaking at the opening meeting of the China Economic Forum 2001, sponsored by the Academy of Macroeconomic Research of the State Development Planning Commission and the HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp).

The government will also take measures to strengthen environmental preservation and enhancement, he said.

Local people are being encouraged to make the most of rich natural resources and cheap labour, said Ning.

Agriculture, processing of minerals and tourism are all industries that could be developed.

Ning said the central government is working on a series of policies to push ahead the development of western China.

Attracting a flow of labour and expertise into western China and effectively using land and natural resources are the main focuses of the policy.

Foreign investors, especially transnational conglomerates, are being encouraged to invest in western China and service sectors -- such as finance, insurance, accounting, law and commerce -- which will open wider to foreigners, said Ning.

Detailed rules on preferential policies, including tax breaks, will be published soon, he added.

The Chinese Government officially announced its plan to develop western China in 1999.

(People's Daily 03/22/2001)

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