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Hainan to Focus on Environment

Newly-elected Hainan Provincial Governor Wei Liucheng has vowed to make the environment a top priority, instead of blindly seeking economic growth. 

"Hainan will not be itself any more if its ecological system is ruined," he said. South China's Hainan is the nation's second-largest island, after Taiwan.


Wei made the remarks during the weekend, after being elected on Saturday at the second session of the Third Hainan Provincial People's Congress, the province's legislature.


Wei, who was once president of the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), admitted that many ecological indices in the island are inferior to those in other provinces. However, the province had initiated its slogan to "Foster an Ecological Province" ahead of any other in the country.


Hainan is famous for its natural resources, as well as prosperous tourism development due to its well-protected tropical scenery.


The province will improve its industrial mix in its economic development by fostering some new industries with the most strict environmental standards, according to the governor. But he did not elaborate on the categories of the new industries.


The governor also said that strategies on biological protection and new industry development are scheduled to be completed in the near future, but did not give a schedule.


Wei was made acting governor in October last year, after former Governor Wang Xiaofeng was appointed Party secretary of the province in April, in accordance with a decision made by the Standing Committee of the Third Hainan Provincial People's Congress.


Wang was in turn elected chairman of the Standing Committee of the Hainan Provincial People's Congress on Saturday.


Before that, former party provincial committee Secretary Wang Qishan went to Beijing to become the capital's acting mayor in April of last year, when then mayor Meng Xuenong was dismissed from the post during Beijing's struggle with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak.


According to Chinese law, the standing committee of the people's congress at the local level is authorized to appoint local officials. But only the annual plenary session of the people's congress is entitled to elect the head of the local government.


Before coming to Hainan, Wei was president of the State-owned CNOOC, which has a registered capital of US$50 billion (US$6 billion) and 22,000 employees.


"As an entrepreneur-turned-governor, I intend from today onward to meet the challenges associated with developing the province," he said on Saturday after his election.


Wei said he will try to introduce a culture of strict enforcement on his government decisions that was effective in his business dealings.


"This is because I have found many governmental decisions are not enforced well here. This has negatively influenced our government's working efficiency and the investment environment in Hainan," he said.


Meanwhile, Wei also vowed that the provincial government has decided to clear governmental credit and debt this year, although he still needs time to know how much the figure is.


The government will be forbidden to guarantee loans for enterprises any longer, according to the new governor.


(China Daily March 1, 2004)

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