Guangxi's new Party chief calls for more active opening-up policy
After leaving his post as the central government's representative in Hong Kong, Peng Qinghua was given a challenging job - leading 51 million people in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region to prosperity by 2020.
The task is particularly difficult because nearly one-fifth of the region's population now live in poverty.
Three months into his new position, Peng is sure about one thing: opening-up is the only option for the region. It is one of the less-developed areas in China, and ranks 18th in terms of GDP among 25 provinces, regions and municipalities.
The new Party chief has said on several occasions that fulfillment of this goal is "difficult but possible".
"Geographical position is the biggest advantage of Guangxi, and taking a more active attitude toward the opening-up is the only way to do it," he said. Guangxi is a gateway between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Peng said he will do his best to promote cooperation between Guangxi and Hong Kong, where he has worked for nine years since 2003 at the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as deputy director and later, director.
"It is our strategic orientation that Guangxi should strengthen economic and trade cooperation with Hong Kong," he said in an interview with China Daily on the sidelines of the National People's Congress in Beijing.
Guangxi is located to the west of Guangdong province, which is one of China's economic engines, but convenient land transport links between the two areas were not available until recently.
A high-speed railway linking Nanning, capital of Guangxi, and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, is expected to open soon, cutting travel time from 14 hours to only three hours. The rail link will also bring Guangxi closer to Hong Kong.
Guangxi should speed up its integration into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao economic circle, Peng said.
This year the autonomous region will concentrate on attracting investment from Hong Kong.
He expected "a new upsurge" in Hong Kong investment, which now accounts for half of all investment in Guangxi not from the Chinese mainland, and tops all overseas sources of investment.
Priority will be given to Hong Kong enterprises when introducing overseas investment to sectors including transport infrastructure, special manufacturing, modern logistics, finance and insurance, creative industries, tourism and leisure, he said.
During the ongoing plenary session of the 12th National People's Congress in Beijing, Peng met Leung Chun-ying, chief executive of the special administrative region.
"We have reached a consensus. We will each head a delegation to visit each other this year to create better conditions for deepening cooperation," he said.