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Guangdong Gives Expressways Top Priority
South China's Guangdong Province will continue to expand its web of expressways as part of a series of key infrastructure initiatives in the next few years.

By the end of this year, Guangdong will have more than 2,300 kilometers of expressways, becoming the top region in China in terms of expressways, top officials said yesterday.

Huang Huahua, newly elected governor of the booming province, said yesterday in a provincial economic work conference that an advanced expressway network will sustain the fast and steady growth of the economy.

"Construction of expressways will be given top priority this year," said Huang at the conference, at which economic policy for 2003 is expected to be hammered out.

In addition to accelerating construction of the Xiaotang-Guangzhou section of the Beijing-Zhuhai Expressway and 13 other ongoing projects, ground is scheduled to be broken on seven new expressway projects within the year.

The new expressways, totaling 494 kilometers, will cost more than 26.8 billion yuan (US$3.23 billion).

The projects include the Guangzhou-Zhuhai section of the Zhuhai-Beijing Expressway, the Zhanjiang-Guangxi section of the Zhanjiang-Chongqing Expressway, the Eastern and Western sections of the Around Pearl River Delta Expressway, the Heyuan-Meizhou Expressway, the Yunfu-Zhaoqing Expressway, the Heyuan-Jianxi section of the Guangdong-Jiangxi Expressway and the Guangdong-Hong Kong Western Expressway.

And all the prefecture-level cities in Guangdong will have their own expressways by the end of 2004, forming a state-of-the-art expressway network linking them to the bordering Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and other major cities on the mainland.

In addition to the expressway projects, Huang also promised to speed up construction of nine other key projects this year.

Huang said his province has earmarked more than 210.2 billion yuan (US$25.33 billion) for 10 key projects, including expressways, over the next couple of years.

And more than 40 billion yuan (US$4.82 billion) will be needed this year.

The key projects involve new- and high-tech industries, environmental protection, automobiles, power plants, liquefied natural gas, water conservancy, medicines, culture, and petrochemical and oil refineries.

Huang has promised to open multiple channels to help raise the large sum of construction funds needed for the projects, which are expected to fortify Guangdong's status as an economic powerhouse in China and as one of the world's most economically active regions.

Foreign financial support is being sought for the projects.

The expansion of investment in the key projects would further spur Guangdong's construction this year and help the province reach its economic development goal, Huang said.

(China Daily January 29, 2003)

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