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Premier Zhu Rongji on the Development of China's West
2004/03/09
The development of China's west was actually part of Comrade Deng Xiaoping's
strategic thinking that he put forward as early as in the 1980s, concerning the
two overall situations about the development of China. And starting from last
year, General Secretary Jiang Zemin has on many occasions put emphasis on
developing China's west. He also added the phrase of "big programme" or "major
programme" to describe our programme of developing China's west, because now
there is an opportunity in front of us to achieve or materialize this strategic
thinking of developing China's west.

Because at the moment China's economic development has reached such a level that
the development on China's east coast and the development of many traditional
industries has really been "saturated," and because therefore they do need to
tap new markets, we also believe it is time for us to take the development of
China's west as an imperative task.

Actually, I want to mention two major aspects concerning the development of
China's west.

The first aspect is concerning the building of infrastructure facilities in that
part of the country. We all know that China's west has a large size in terms of
territory. However, the transportation facilities there are not that convenient.
So first of all, it is necessary for us to build up all infrastructure
facilities. Now the State has decided to concentrate much of the State
investment in the building of infrastructure in that part of our country. For
instance, recently we have announced our decision to proceed with the project of
transmitting all the natural gas from China's west part to the east part. To be
more specific, we have actually discovered a very rich natural gas reserve in
the Tarim Basin in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Therefore, we intend to build a natural gas pipeline, which will run for 4,200
kilometers and which will pass through eight provinces and municipalities. It
will link the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the west to Shanghai along
China's east coast. As we build this natural gas pipeline, we expect that all
the energy infrastructure and industrial mix along the pipeline will be
significantly changed.

And therefore we do need, and do expect, a lot of financial input into this
building of the pipeline. We'd like to welcome both the domestic and
international investment to flow into that project. Particularly, we would like
to welcome overseas investment, which we hope will participate in the building
of this project.

As for the overseas investors, you can take your money there and you can also
have dominant stake of stocks of the related projects concerning the building of
the pipeline. And I am confident that this project will achieve high efficiency
and also generate a high return rate.

And the second aspect I want to mention concerning the development of China's
west is the improvement of the environment in that part of the country.

As you all know, China has already solved its food problem and we now have an
oversupply of grain. So we have some grain reserves in our storage.

In the past, we were suffering from the shortage of food. Therefore, we had to
make sure that we used as much as possible of the land to grow grain. Now that
we have a large food surplus, we can provide the food surplus to farmers for
free, and we can try to help them reconvert farmland they used in the past into
forests, grasslands and lakes.

By doing so, we hope that environment in China's western regions can be
improved. Therefore, we believe that by implementing the strategy of developing
China's west we will have a very beautiful environment there and that we can
also improve the infrastructure in that part of the country.

In terms of accelerating the development of China's west, we will adopt
preferential policies similar to those we have adopted in China's eastern areas.
In this regard, we would like to welcome the participation of overseas
investment, overseas security companies, banking institutions and overseas
insurance companies. So all of your participation is welcome.

As for when our efforts will yield results in developing China's west, I think
we have already seen some effect and some results of building infrastructure
facilities.

The Chinese people are very capable of building such projects as railways,
highways and expressways. So I believe with regard to the building of the
specific natural gas pipeline which will run for 4,200 kilometres, we expect the
project to be completed within two years, although the construction may be
divided into several different stages.

As for the planting of trees, that may take some time longer. Actually, I once
paid an inspection tour to the A'ba region in Sichuan Province to see the
situation of growing trees and forests.

I learned that it usually takes eight to 10 years for the infant trees to grow
up and become forest. So I'm sure that effects would be seen there rapidly.
Naturally we are aware that this task of developing China's west will be a
formidable one and may not be finished within the time of only one generation.
On the contrary we expect that this project will be finished and completed
through the efforts of one generation, two generations and even several
generations.


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