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Preferential Policies for West on 4 Key Aspects
The long-awaited preferential policies that will facilitate China's western development were made public over the weekend at the Western Forum of China, which concluded in Chendu Sunday.

Wang Chunzheng, deputy director of the State Council's Western Development Office, said the policies focus on four key aspects; increasing capital input, improving the investment environment, attracting skilled personnel and boosting the development of science and technology.

This is the first time that China has summarized the measures to be carried out in its go-west campaign, although some of them have already been implemented.

As well as increasing government investment, China will also introduce preferential loans from international financial organizations and foreign governments for the projects.

Tax breaks will be offered to enterprises engaging in pillar industries, developing high and new technology and returning farmland to forest and grassland.

Meanwhile, the service trade in banking, retail and foreign trade will be expanded to provincial and autonomous region capitals and the Chongqing Municipality.

"Foreign banks will be able to conduct renminbi business when the time is ripe," he said.

Wang, also the vice-minister of the State Development and Planning Commission, disclosed that foreign investors will be allowed to invest in sensitive areas such as telecommunications, insurance and tourism.

They will also get the go-ahead to launch Sino-foreign joint venture accounting firms, law firms, engineering design companies, railway and highway cargo transportation companies and public utility construction firms.

Nearly 20 ministers and vice ministers participating in the forum also promised to spare no effort in helping turn the land-locked region into a new growth area.

The railway sector will invest 40 percent of its total construction fund for the coming five years in the area, Sun Yongfu, vice-minister of railways, said yesterday.

Mammoth projects, including a railway linking Tibet with other parts of the country, a project to extend the Southern Xinjiang Railway to countries in Central Asia, and a pan-Asian railway to link Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan Province, with Singapore, have already been planned or are under consideration.

Sun Zhenyu, vice minister of foreign trade and economic co-operation, disclosed that a special fund to help the western region train foreign trade personnel and provide trade information will be established to help the western region catch up with the eastern part of the country.

Foreign participants in the forum, many from Fortune 500 companies, expressed a keen interest in tapping the vast potential in the area.

"The market here today may be pretty small," said Philip Yu, vice-president of Compaq Computer Corp. "But it represents the future of China in the coming five to 10 years."

"Go west, because the land there is young," Jacques Lefvre, chief operation official with French company Lafarge Corp, quoted the old US saying to describe his firm's attitude towards China's western development.

(China Daily 10/23/2000)

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