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Development of West China to Speed Up (2001-03-08)
2004/03/09
                      China will speed up its implementation of the "West
                      Development" strategy, Zeng Peiyan, minister of the
                      State Development and Planning Commission (SDPC), told a
                      press conference in Beijing Wednesday.
                     
                     
                      All 12 major projects to be launched this year,
                      including the Qinghai-Tibet railway and the "west to
                      east natural gas transmission" project, Zeng said, will
                      require a total investment in excess of 300 billion yuan
                      (US$36.14 billion).
                     
                     
                      An office in charge of the "West Development" program
                      had been set up last year. It has formulated a package
                      of preferential policies and published a master plan for
                      implementing the strategy, Zeng said.
                     
                     
                      Zeng also said that about 40 percent of year 2000's "ten
                      major projects" task, which the government gave an
                      investment of 70 billion yuan, had been completed and
                      put into production successfully.
                     
                     
                      Progress has also been made in restoring farmland once
                      reclaimed from forests and pastures.
                     
                     
                      The minister stressed the "West Development" a major
                      economic strategy taken by the Chinese government in the
                      21st century. Therefore, in the coming five to ten
                      years, the government is determined to make a
                      breakthrough in infrastructure and ecological
                      construction.
                     
                     
                      When asked about China's active fiscal policy, the top
                      planner firmly said that precaution against and
                      curtailing deflation while preventing inflation will be
                      the main tasks of this year's macro-economic control.
                     
                     
                      He said that the economic downturn began in 1993 was
                      arrested last year and prices also returned to normal
                      from successive negative growths.
                     
                     
                      However, the foundation for growth was still not secure.
                      Most commodities are in excessive supply; income growth
                      of more than 70 percent of the rural population is slow;
                      the purchasing power is limited; and investment by the
                      private sector is inactive. Many uncertainties that have
                      cropped up in the international economy, including the
                      recent slowdown of the US economy, will affect China's
                      foreign trade.
                     
                     
                      Under such circumstances, he said, curtailing deflation
                      while preventing inflation is quite necessary.
                     
                     
                      The minister also provided some indicators:
                     
                     
                      The country will strive to bring the per capita annual
                      income up to an estimated 8,000 yuan from 6,280 yuan in
                      urban areas and to 3,000 yuan from 2,550 yuan in rural
                      areas.
                     
                     
                      The living environment for both urban and rural
                      residents will be improved too, with the forest coverage
                      in the country as a whole to reach 18.2 percent and the
                      urban green coverage to reach 35 percent.
                     
                     
                      The urban housing proportion should reach 22 square
                      metre per person while the rural residents will share an
                      even larger one.
                     
                     
                      In response to a question by a Taiwan reporter, Zeng
                      said that after the Chinese mainland becomes a WTO
                      member, Taiwan will also join and that will help further
                      promote economic co-operation and trade across the
                      Straits.
                     
                     
                      He also noted that the accession of the mainland to the
                      WTO will provide investors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and
                      Macao with more opportunities to get access to new areas
                      of investment.


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