A new area to be built in the northern part of Shenyang is expected to take a leading role in rehabilitating the once-hardy economy of the northeast China.
Following the State Council's approval of the development of Shenbei New Area on Tuesday, Chen Zhenggao, secretary of Shenyang's Party Committee, said the new city would return the rustbelt area of northeastern China to its former strength.
"Shenbei New Area is meant to be an engine of growth both for Shenyang and northeastern China as a whole," said Chen.
Shenbei will join New Areas in Tianjin, Shanghai Pudong and Zhengzhou Zhengdong in leading government efforts to foster development in the country's various regions.
The northeast was for decades China's industrial heartland, though its fortunes waned in the age of liberalization.
The many state-owned enterprises that once dotted the area have survived poorly in comparison with other booming coastal regions.
Among Shenbei New Area's key tasks will be rebuilding this industrial base, experimenting with reform and building up a new countryside, said Li Xiangping, a researcher at the Liaoning Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.
The former Shenyang Huishan Agricultural Development Zone will serve as Shenbei New Area's core although it will also cover Xinchengzi Area, Shenyang Hushitai Development Zone and Daoyi Development Zone. The area is expected to cover more than 1,000 square kilometers.
"This is a significant step at a time when the central government is working to rein in the country's development zones. Like Shenzhen, we shoulder very important responsibilities in guiding reform and opening up the country," said Wang Shiwei, secretary of Shenbei New Area's Party Committee. "Liaoning is at the heart of northeastern China. And Shenyang is the central part of Liaoning Province. So this step is not just about the future of Shenbei, but about the whole region."
Liaoning Province is responsible for half of northeastern China's GDP and leads the region in exports.
"We have already had a good start and are very confident about the area's future," said Jian Biao, chief of Shenbei New Area.
Among the industrial sectors planned for the area are bio-pharmaceuticals and logistics. Furthermore, work is expected to persevere in the efforts of the Shenyang Huishan Agricultural Development Zone by emphasizing agriculture.
A source at the Shenyang statistics Bureau said Huishan is already home to several major grain-processing and feed centers for the dairy industry. Leading dairy companies like Meng Niu and the Yili Dairy Group operate plants there.
Shenbei government documents show that the nation's top grain processor, China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corp, is planning to invest 1.7 billion yuan (US$212.5 million) in a large-scale corn-processing plant.
"This area enjoys rich grain resources, good transportation and complete infrastructure. I could think of no better place to do business," said Dang Zhentai, a manager of the Wanshunda Group, which recently set up its own 1.2 billion-yuan (US$150-million) corn-processing plant.
In addition, over 300 international companies, including Coco Cola, Pepsi and Uni-President, have set up processing plants in the area. Vigorous growth should ensue since about 30 of the world's top 500 enterprises have opened branches in the area and have invested in more than 50 projects.
(China Daily November 24, 2006)