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Development

Zhu Gives Impetus to "Go West" Campaign

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/03/06; March 6, 2001.]

South China Morning Post

March 6, 2001

ANALYSIS by JOSEPHINE MA in Beijing

Premier Zhu Rongji yesterday pledged that the state would inject more funds into the midwestern region in the next five years.

In his report delivered to the NPC yesterday, Mr Zhu reassured delegates that the state would increase financial assistance to the west by investing in key projects and earmarking more state funds for local governments.

He highlighted three projects which would be given full support by the state, including the building of pipelines to transfer natural gas and electricity from the resource-rich western region to the east coast, and the Qinghai-Tibet highway.

The second focus of the "go west" campaign would involve better protecting the environment, particularly water resources and grassland, and stepping up efforts on reforestation and controlling desertification. Among the targets, protecting and better utilising water resources would top the priority list of the Government, Mr Zhu said.

For the first time, the Premier said the state would prioritise areas when giving out assistance: "In developing the western region, we need to begin work at places along major transport routes, such as the Eurasian Continental Bridge, the Yangtze River, and the routes in the southwestern part of the country leading to the sea."

The state hoped that assistance would help to breed several economic centres, including the economic zone along the Tongguan-Lanzhou-Urumqi line, the upper reaches of the Yangtze, and the areas surrounding Nanning, Guiyang and Kunming cities, Mr Zhu said.

In the 10th Five-Year Plan, to be discussed and endorsed by NPC delegates during the session, better co-ordination between the western region, middle region and the eastern region was stressed.

When the state started the "go west" programme more than a year ago, cities with low incomes but not considered as being in the west repeatedly complained that they had been left out.

Speaking on the sidelines of yesterday's meeting, the director of the western development office under the State Development and Planning Commission Li Zhibin, said the state would increase support to the west in terms of accelerating state investment and earmarking revenues from treasury bond issues. However, he dismissed comments that the state had not given enough preferential treatment to the west to lure investment.


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