BEIJING -- An official from China's southwest Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region pledged on Tuesday to upgrade cooperation between the region and neighboring Vietnam by building an economic zone in the next five years.
Chairman Ma Biao, said at a press conference, his regional government would gradually turn Beibu Bay Economic Zone into a business base as well as the center for cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN).
The notably shallow Beibu Bay, or the Gulf of Tonkin, covers an area of more than 125,000 square kilometers and is an arm of the South China Sea. The Gulf borders Vietnam and contains several small islands.
"The zone will be turned into a strategic highland to drive forth the development of West China and will stimulate growth in coastal China," said Ma. "More efforts will be pooled to continue the annual China-ASEAN Expo, which had been held in the regional capital of Nanning for five consecutive years."
Ma also vowed to forge ahead with cooperation between Hong Kong, Macao,and the country's coastal rich provinces in the Pearl River and Yangtze River Deltas.
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, one of China's five minority autonomous regions, lies in southeastern China and borders Vietnam.
It was founded on December 11, 1958 and has 12 ethnic groups. The total population in Guangxi by the end of 2007 was more than 50 million, a third are of the Zhuang ethnic minority.