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Go West, More Opportunities There
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China welcomes foreign investment in its western region development campaign, a top official said yesterday.

But there's a catch.

"We will not approve any project harmful to the environment," Wang Xinxiang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said yesterday.

The commission has released the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) on western region development. The plan gives priority to projects in infrastructure construction, environmental protection and education in the western regions.

Meanwhile, three key economic zones and six key industries have been given the government's full support.

The three key economic zones are the Chongqing-Chengdu zone, the Central Shaanxi-Tianshui zone, and the Beibu Bay zone in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The six key industries are: energy and chemical, mine exploration, agriculture, equipment manufacturing, high-tech, and tourism and culture industries.

"The western region now accounts for only 3 percent of the total foreign direct investment in China," Wang said.

"In fact, the western region enjoys more favorable policies and has more fields opened up to foreign investors than the rest of China. Foreign investors should grasp the opportunities."

According to Cao Yushu, deputy director of the Office of the Leading Group for Western Region Development of the State Council, there have been notable achievements in infrastructure construction and environmental protection.

The road network totals 700,000 kilometers, including 10,000 kilometers of expressways. And there are plans to build another 200,000 kilometers of roads and extend the railway network by 2010.

Ecological projects have helped protect the area's environment, Cao said.

(China Daily March 2, 2007)

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