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Guangdong Props up Its Poor Areas
South China's Guangdong Province will boost efforts to improve the infrastructure in its poverty-stricken regions under its program to support the impoverished.

"The province has made much headway in the program and many people there have already benefited," said Yan Xueliang, director of the provincial poverty relief office.

He said Guangdong had resorted to direct donations of money and daily necessities to lift the struggling regions out of poverty.

It will now move to improve infrastructure and the living environment by tapping regional potential in tourism and agricultural-related enterprises, as well as offer training to local residents.

"The first strategy was, to some extent, effective in relieving poverty, but the new strategy makes much more sense," Yan said.

He said the province will make a point of building roads, setting up power grids and erecting more water conservation projects.

Guangdong will gear up to help boost the development of rural enterprises and the collective economy, as well as lay a better foundation for the development of the tourism industry.

And the province will offer more training opportunities to the labor force in those areas to enable them to find jobs elsewhere in better developed regions.

The province will earmark a poverty-relief fund of 37.5 billion yuan (US$4.52 billion) in the coming five years, 50 million yuan (US$6.02 million) of which will help the collective economy sector and another 30 million yuan (US$3.61 million) which will be invested each year to help develop infrastructure within the tourism industry.

Guangdong is a comparatively prosperous province in China, however, there are still an estimated 50 counties in the mountainous area which are regarded as backwards.

The regions around the Pearl River Delta are rather well-off while those scattering the northern, eastern and western mountainous areas lag far behind.

The backward regions account for 66 per cent of the total area of the province, with their population making up 40 per cent of the province's total.

(China Daily March 17, 2003)

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