The Chinese government has approved a border development zone in the Tumen River Delta to boost the cross-border cooperation in the northeast Asian region, the provincial government of Jilin announced Monday.
The information office of the government said the pilot zone covering 73,000 square km involved the cities of Changchun and Jilin as well as the Tumen River area.
Han Changfu, governor of Jilin, said the Changchun-Jilin-Tumen pilot zone was China's first border development zone. It is expected to push forward cross-border cooperation in the Tumen River Delta.
Preferential policies will be adopted to promote port cooperation and the establishment of comprehensive bonded areas and cross-border economic zones, he said.
The delta, a 516-kilometer-long river straddling the borders of China, Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), was set up as an economic development zone in 1991 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
In 1995, five countries -- China, Russia, DPRK, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Mongolia -- ratified the agreement on the Establishment of the Cooperation Commission for the Tumen River Economic Development Area. Japan participated in the program as an observer.
In 2005, the five signatories agreed to extend the agreement for another 10 years. They also agreed to expand the area to the Greater Tumen Region and to further strengthen cooperation for economic growth and sustainable development for the peoples of Northeast Asia.
"Before the Changchun-Jilin-Tumen pilot zone was initiated, the Chinese part of the Tumen River area was mainly Huichun, a port city in Jilin,involved in the cross-border cooperation," said Zhu Xianping, director of the Northeast Asia Research Institute of Jilin University.
The small port city of 5,145 square km and 250,000 population had limited industrial development capacity to develop infrastructure projects that will match the cross-border cooperation, he said.
Du Ying, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that by bringing the two cities of Changchun and Jilin into the border zone, the zone could serve as a strategic platform to support the cross-border cooperation in the Greater Tumen Region.
Zhao Zhenqi, an assistant to the governor, said the central government has allowed the pilot zone to trial new land use and foreign financing methods, such as sharing ports and sea routes with other countries in the region and setting up free trade zones.
Under the initiative of the pilot zone, local governments in the region could better interact to tackle development bottlenecks, he said.
The northeast China region, rich in natural resources including coal and oil, is the country's traditional heavy industry base and granary. However, it also faces the challenges of industrial upgrading, resource depletion and financing bottlenecks.