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PPRD, ASEAN see more cooperation chances
Updated: 2004-06-09 14:03

Southwest China's Yunnan Province is evolving into an important bridgehead between the Pan-Pearl River Delta (PPRD), or "9+2", region, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

The mounting geographic and economic significance of Yunnan was highlighted by an inspection of the province made last weekend by a group of overseas Chinese business people from ASEAN member nations.

The inspection was conducted almost immediately after the first PPRD forum had concluded with the initial creation of a framework for regional cooperation.

The PPRD, the largest regional combination in China, is China's new attempt at regional cooperation and development and also a breakthrough for coordinated development between the eastern regions, the central area and the west.

The PPRD region, also known as "9+2", involves Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan as well as the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Upon the conclusion of the first PPRD forum, an investment promotion fair was kicked off late last week in Kunming, capital city of Yunnan Province. Provincial Governor Xu Rongkai said at the fair that Yunnan hoped to serve as a land nexus to connect the "9+2" regions with ASEAN members, so as to facilitate economic cooperation between the two regimes.

The remaining eight provinces (including a provincial-level autonomous region) of the PPRD region, together with Hong Kong and Macao, have shown strong interest in cooperation with Yunnan, which is growing rapidly, blessed with both abundant natural resources and geographic advantages, Governor Xu said.

As part of the business promotion move, a group of 100-plus overseas Chinese business people from some of the ASEAN member nations made an inspection tour to Qujing City, Yunnan, which perches on the source of the Pearl River.

The business people have signed a number of letters of intent with local enterprises after visiting some major local economic entities, including FAW Hongtai Yunnan Automotive Manufacturing Co Ltd, Qujing Cigarette Plant and Qujing Economic and Technological Development Zone.

Last Saturday alone, 10 enterprises from the ASEAN member nations clinched deals with their counterparts in the city.

With a total area of nearly 30,000 square kilometers and a population of 5.61 million, Qujing boasts 29 varieties of mineral resources, including coal, lead, zinc and iron and affluent hydropower resources.

Adjacent to Guizhou, Sichuan and Guangxi, Qujing, just like a miniature of Yunnan, also enjoys a geographic vantage.

Fully aware of Qujing's significant location between the grand markets of inland China and southern Asia, more and more businesses from Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines have invested in the city, according to Mayor Li Pei.

ASEAN comprises 10 nations, namely Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia. Since the 1990s, China has consolidated its ties with the 10 nations. In 2001, the bilateral trade between China and the ASEAN, or often called "10+1", increased to US$55.4 billion, more than five times over that of US$8.9 billion a decade ago.

The "10+1" are jointly working on establishing a free trade zone before the year 2010, which will then become a grand regional economy with a combined consumer population of 1.7 billion and an annual trade volume of US$1.2 trillion.

"Besides financial input, overseas Chinese investors will introduce their experience in international financial and law services to enterprises in west China," said Ong Khim Kiat, head of the External Affairs Committee of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, when he visited Qujing City last weekend.

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