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Officials seek new ideas for revitalization
( 2003-12-04 09:50) (China Daily)

Leading officials from Northeast China said Wednesday the region should adopt new strategic concepts in a move to revitalize this traditional heavy industrial base of the country.

This was the shared view of the governors of Liaoning and Jilin and the deputy governor of Heilongjiang at the International Seminar on Development Strategies for Northeast China, which opened in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province.

The seminar is being held to respond to the central government's "northeastern revitalization" scheme released in August.

"Many problems have been left unanswered in the region over the past years, hindering its development," Liaoning Governor Bo Xilai said in his keynote speech yesterday.

"It will be hard to realize rejuvenation of the region if local governments keep working in their old ways," Bo said.

Jilin Governor Hong Hu and Shen Liguo, deputy governor of Heilongjiang Province, also said the region should cultivate a market mechanisms and try to develop into a new industrial base through reform and innovation.

"Reform and innovation must be the major driving forces in reviving the old industrial base," Hong said.

He attributed the slow economic growth in Jilin and the region to outdated ideas and sluggish progress in reform and opening up.

The northeastern region has long been a traditional heavy industrial base containing the country's most important steel plants, metal mines and oil refineries, as well as the defence sector.

However, the region's economy has experienced a lot of difficulties since China embraced a market economy a decade ago, largely because of heavy taxation burdens and an overstaffed State sector.

The central government's scheme is to help rebuild the region's past glory and make it a new powerhouse for the country's economic growth, alongside the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Bo, Hong and Shen yesterday outlined revival strategies in their respective provinces at the seminar.

"Liaoning Province aims to achieve sound economic growth, with balanced development between different economic sectors and various industries," Bo said.

The first goal is to achieve new economic growth while solving the old problems such as high unemployment and debt-ridden enterprises, he added.

The second is to restructure the State-owned sector as well as to attract foreign-funded and private firms.

Bo said that the province is likely to attract US$5 billion in foreign direct investment this year, accounting for 10 per cent of the country's total.

The private sector, which is rapidly developing, contributed 45 per cent to the province's gross domestic product (GDP) this year.

However, the province hopes to find ways to further boost the two sectors, as residents in the province have 600 billion yuan (US$72.5 billion) deposited in banks, which could be used in economic construction.

Thirdly, as a heavy industrial base, the province should focus not only on chemical and equipment manufacturing industries, but also on light industries and the high technology sector.

Moreover, Bo emphasized that improving people's living standards and cultivating highly trained personnel should be given more importance in economic development.

Jilin Province will focus on building five industrial parks, including automobile manufacturing, petrochemical and high-tech ones, according to Hong.

Heilongjiang Province set the establishment of six industrial bases as its key emphasis, Shen Liguo told the seminar.

The province aims to develop an equipment manufacturing base, a chemical industrial base, an energy supply base, an agri-products processing base, a medical industrial base and a forestry base.

"The province expects to establish sound market mechanisms, and build itself into a new industrial base with advanced technologies and strong competitiveness by the year 2010," Shen said.

The provinces will optimize the investment environment and offer preferential policies to encourage private businesses and foreign investors to take part in the restructuring of its perennial heavy industrial base.

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