Northeast China's Tumen Area to Upgrade Transportation Facilities

Northeast China's Jilin Province has vowed to step up the development of the Tumen River area to boost economic relations with neighbouring countries.

The Tumen River area refers to the contiguous region of China, Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in eastern Jilin.

Great government efforts

"We will give top priority to strengthening the region's infrastructure construction and expanding economic, trade and tourism co-operation between the area and Russia, DPRK as well as the Republic of Korea (ROK)," said Wei Minxue, vice-governor of Jilin.

Four billion yuan (US$481 million) will be set aside to extend railways, expressways and highways and improve other infrastructure facilities in the area in the coming five years, he said.

The province will accelerate the construction of a Sino-Russian railway and will largely expand marine and air transportation to link the area closer with the outside world.

Zhang Donghui, deputy director of the Tumen River Area Development Administration, said the province will gear up the prosperity of its border city of Hunchun, which is expected to have a population of 300,000 to 500,000 by 2005.

"A boom in the region will play an active role in improving the lives of border and ethnic minority residents," he said.

The city aims to highlight the development of the export-oriented processing industry in the next five years, according to the area's overall blueprint.

Wei said the province will take advantage of its wealthy natural wild resources to export more Chinese herbal medicine, organic food, mushrooms, wild herbs and beverage products to Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and other Southeast Asian countries.

"We will also encourage more enterprises to tap the Russian market this year and to export their light industrial products and articles for daily use to Russia," he said.

Meanwhile, efforts will also be made to increase border trade and tourists exchanges with Russia and DPRK this year, said Zhang.

Positive results achieved

Jilin initiated its development of the Tumen River area in the mid-80s.

So far railways, expressways and highways have been built and air routes and sea courses have been opened, which have linked the area with some frontier cities of Russia and DPRK.

By the end of 2000, 640 companies from 22 countries and regions have invested in the area, involving actual foreign investment valued at US$460 million.

Hong Hu, governor of Jilin, said the development of the Tumen area will spearhead the overall opening-up drive of the province.

The development of the Tumen River Area has generated close attention from northeastern Asian countries as well as the international community.

In 1995, China, Russia, DPRK, ROK and Mongolia signed a memorandum and two agreements with the support of the United Nations, pledging to develop the region co-operatively.

Russia and DPRK are also making vigorous efforts in building highways and setting up economic zones in their respective areas.

(People's Daily March 19, 2002)