CHINA Infrastructure construction paramount for western China

CHINA

Infrastructure construction paramount for western China

By Shan Xin | People's Daily app

01:31, March 28, 2019

Beijing (People's Daily) -- The 7th meeting of the Communist Party of China Central Committee for deepening overall reform kicked off in Beijing last Tuesday, where Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed a firm implementation of major reforms and made clear commitments to a new development pattern for western China.

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(Photo: Xinhua)

While ecological environmental protection and sustainable development are still emphasized for the long-term interests of the Chinese nation, further promotion of infrastructure construction was given top priority, according to the committee.

The rapid development of China’s export-oriented coastal provinces in the 1990s, and greater industrial agglomeration there, have created a growing gap between China’s eastern and western regions.

Thanks to the “Go West” guidance clarified in 1999, 152 major projects worth 3,750 trillion yuan in total have been invested into the 12 less-prosperous inland provinces, which have witnessed bullish growth in the past 20 years, 10 times the average GDP, as well as omnibus support in areas including industrial structure adjustments, foreign investment, environmental protection and education.

In the past, investments on infrastructure construction have dominated the remarkable economic growth and poverty alleviation in the Southwest's Chongqing and Guizhou by stimulating potential opportunities. However, the east-west differentials are still prominent and more effort is required.

Though with several mega cities such as Chongqing, Chengdu and Xi’an sitting in western China, their roles in radiating potential are still limited amid infrastructure shortfalls in areas such as airports, railways, irrigation, telecommunications and power.

Li Mingyuan, governor of Xi’an, urged during the 2019 Two Sessions that support from the central government should focus on major transport facilities such as high-speed railways and highways connecting the four main city clusters in the west. The move, weeding out the equalitarianism advocated elsewhere, is expected to further promote open and mutually beneficial synergistic ties, to better serve the Belt and Road Initiative and upgrade the development of western China.

Such requirements were also emphasized in Guizhou’s government working report, in which a five-year plan was highlighted to build 7,000 kilometers of highways in total with infrastructure investment increased by more than 14 percent.

Besides, according to Guo Fanli, special researcher from the National Development and Reform Commission, the west’s previous constructions of the non-productive projects such as the West-East Gas Pipeline have suffered a quagmire of low return on investments after blandly serving the eastern coastal provinces and voided the deployment of local resources.

Now, the new policy encourages infrastructure construction, while adapting to local conditions is considered a better choice for accelerating the coordination of the population, resources and the environment in the western regions. The key of the sustainable self-development, as an immature infrastructure, lays a solid foundation for the gathering of political, educational, cultural, and technical resources, furthering the pooling of talents and capitals.

The committee also clarified adhesion to giving full play to the west’s labor-intensive advantages and undertaking the industrial transfer from coastal to inland areas effectively and orderly, a move to enhance its endogenous power.

The projects under construction saw an increase of 26.3 percent in 2018 with infrastructure, a 17.6 speed-up, the top among the four sectors.

With the friendly policies, bullish signals were released and the western regions are expected to embrace vigorous critical projects with significant progress, which will allow the west to lead roles on expanding China’s economy and re-balance coordinated development in regions.

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