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Premier Wen urges acceleration of Taiwan Straits economic zone
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called for the acceleration of an economic zone on the western side of the Taiwan Straits, in order to boost social and economic development in the region and combat the global economic downturn.

In a three-day visit to the southeastern province of Fujian from Friday, Wen said the economic zone, centered on Fujian and facing Taiwan Island across the straits, had been long planned by the central government.

Such an economic zone could make use of the currently peaceful ties across the Taiwan Straits to forge stronger economic cooperation for mutual benefits and development, and help tackle the challenges posed by the global financial crisis, Wen said.

It would also contribute to the ignition of a new growth engine in China by capitalizing on Fujian's comparative advantages, and to the long-term development plan of the country, he said.

During his inspection of nine companies in Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Xiamen, all in Fujian, Wen stressed that creativity was at the core of the development of the economic zone on the western side of the straits.

"Creativity is key to our strength building, to gaining advantages and development, and to retaining our honor," Wen said.

He urged labor-intensive industries to become technology-intensive, adding that information technology and environmental industries were the focuses of economic competition that merited vigorous development.

The Premier also called for greater importance to be attached to boosting social security, which would be one of the country's key ensuing measures to combat the global financial crisis, he said.

During his visit to Xiamen, Wen also visited Zhongshan Hospital Affiliated to the Xiamen University to learn about the prevention of A/H1N1 influenza in the city and the ongoing medical reform.

After talking with a quarantined patient at the hospital via video camera, Wen hailed Fujian's disease prevention efforts, but warned they must not be relaxed.

"The whole country must carry out disease prevention work in accordance with the arrangements made by the central authorities, to protect the health of the Chinese people," he said.

On May 4, the State Council, China's cabinet, passed the plan to support the development of the economic zone on the western side of the Taiwan Straits.

The new economic zone faces Taiwan Island across the straits, and neighbors the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta, two economic powerhouses on the mainland.

Besides Fujian, the zone also covers parts of the neighboring provinces of Jiangxi and Guangdong.

The zone would become a frontier platform to boost industrial and cultural exchanges across the straits, according to the plan.

(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2009)

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