Western regions in China should concentrate on doing what eastern regions cannot do, a Chinese senior legislator said Monday.
Li Yining, member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, said only by doing this will investment pour into these remote and poor regions.
"If a project can be set in both areas, why would the investor go west?" said Li, who is also president of the Guanghua Management School of Peking University.
Commenting that a comprehensive plan is needed for long-term development in the west, Li called for everyone to be more open about how to achieve this.
For example, he said the government ought to encourage foreign investors to run schools, or set up private banks, in the west, something which is not allowed anywhere in China at the moment.
The 69-year-old scholar is an economist and is believed to have played an important role in drafting the country's first Securities Law. He first brought up the idea of restructuring China's state-owned enterprises through a shareholding system in the early 1980s.
"I suggest prolonging time limits on contracts for land and tax breaks to attract technical staff," Li said.
He put forward other suggestions on specific problems facing western regions.
Li called for an expansion of existing economic centers in western regions, which are currently classified as only relatively developed. Li divides China's economy into nine levels and says western regions have only reached the bottom three.
"The development of regions or cities, such as Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, will in turn promote the development in remote and poor regions," said Li.
Investment without any other action will not result in profits, he added.
"The region is a bottomless pit that can never be filled without other efforts," Li said.
He also proposed encouraging migration in the west and called on people to move to the cities from the countryside.
"Otherwise, it will be too late to stop the destruction of forest and grassland."
Li believes the number of delegations visiting western regions should also be limited otherwise they will become a burden to local governments.
(China Daily 10/31/2000)