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Construction of mammoth steel and refinery projects in Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong province, are well underway and will give the port city's economy a huge boost, its mayor has said.
Wang Zhongbing made the remarks during an interview with China Daily, with passion and a down-to-earth approach.
The ground-breaking ceremony was held in November, and the joint venture between China Petroleum & Chemical Corp and Kuwait Petroleum Corp will be registered soon. Construction of the main body of the 59 billion yuan ($9.35 billion) project will start in June.
The petrochemical project is designed to process 15 million tons of crude oil and turn out 1 million tons of ethylene annually.
Roads and power and water supply systems have been completed for the 63.5 billion yuan iron and steel project, undertaken by Baosteel Zhanjiang Iron & Steel Co. Construction has started on the raw material dock and power plant.
The project, a result of phasing out obsolete capacity of more than 17 million tons in Guangdong, is designed to produce 10 million tons of high-end steel products annually.
"The two projects, both expected to go into operation in 2015, will inject a new vitality for the emergence of Zhanjiang in five years," Wang said.
"Under our strategy, we will accelerate industrialization, promote the upgrading of the industrial structure and build a modern port city."
The GDP of Zhanjiang is expected to expand by at least 15 percent annually, to reach 400 billion yuan in 2016.
The city government aims to take fifth or sixth place in economic strength among Guangdong's 21 cities, and turn Zhanjiang into the third-largest city in 10 years. Currently, the city's economy ranks in the middle in Guangdong.
It plans to allocate 5 billion yuan to invest in each of the two projects this year.
The steel project will also power up the machinery, automobile and shipbuilding industries. The city government has planned steel-related industrial parks in local counties.
Boosted by the two projects, the port of Zhanjiang, one of the ocean gateways in Southwest China, will make great strides after receiving 13.5 billion yuan investment and will have 54 new berths by 2015.
The steel and petrochemical projects are set to give a shot in the arm to Zhanjiang's economy, which remains backward, compared with its counterparts in the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong, said Chen Guanghan, director of the center for studies of Hong Kong, Macao and the Pearl River Delta at the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University.
They will also create jobs and help close the development gap among the various regions in Guangdong, he said.
When the projects and their upstream and downstream industries go into full swing, more than 200,000 new jobs will be available in the city, according to Wang.
The city's environmental quality, however, should by no means be compromised by the economic development, he said.
The two projects will adopt the most advanced standard in energy-saving and emission reduction.
Water and new coal consumptions for every ton of steel produced, for example, are designed at 3.8 tons and 660 kg, respectively, better than the most advanced levels in the world.
"We want not only economic emergence, but also blue sky and clean water," Wang said.
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