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Guangxi Looks to ASEAN Platform
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Southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has set its sights on becoming a regional logistics and trading base with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

It also wants to set up an information exchange center with ASEAN

"The future development of China-ASEAN regional cooperation should include Pan-Beibu Bay economic cooperation, the continuing cooperation with the Mekong River Sub-regional Economic Zone and the construction of the economic belt from the capital city Nanning to Singapore," Guangxi Party Secretary Liu Qibao said during a high-level consultative conference held in Beijing yesterday.

In China's coastal regions, most economic activities are centered in three economic regions: the Pearl River Delta in the south, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Bohai Economic Rim in the north.

Compared with these regions, economic activity in Beibu Bay is relatively backward.

China's 11th Five-Year Plan for Western Development has designated the Beibu Bay (Guangxi) economic zone as one of three in the west where the economy will be developed first.

Comprising Nanning, Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang, the zone has 166 shipping berths with an annual handling capacity of 65 million tons. It also has the country's first expressway linked to Vietnam, an ASEAN member.

"If there is another 200 km of railway, Nanning and Singapore could be linked," Liu said, adding that airports in Nanning and Beihai have flights to more than 40 Chinese cities and all major Southeast Asian cities.

"One of the top issues on the agenda is to cooperatively build the Nanning-Singapore railway and expressways," Liu said.

He also called for the establishment of a bonded port area within the zone and a comprehensive bonded zone in Guangxi's southwestern Pingxiang city, China's "South Gate", to the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

Liu's proposals were echoed by a number of senior officials at the conference.

Du Ying, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the development of the Pan-Beibu Bay region is also significant to the import security of key energies.

Chen Qingtai, the former Party secretary of the Development and Research Center of the State Council, said the zone's development should follow the experiences and lessons of other developed coastal areas to ensure its success.

(China Daily July 24, 2007)

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