Expressways to usher in new prosperity
South China's Guangdong Province will soon begin construction of four major expressways to link the province to the rest of the country.
Zhang Yuanyi, director-general of Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Communications, said the new expressways will contribute to construction of an advanced highway network in the Pan Pearl River Delta region.
The expressways will help expand economic ties between Guangdong Province and neighbouring provinces and regions such as Hunan, Jiangxi and Fujian provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
When the four new expressways are completed in 2007, Guangdong will have a dozen expressways linking it to other regions in the mainland, Zhang said Monday.
By 2008, Guangdong will have more than 4,000 kilometres of such highways,Zhang said.
Investment for the construction between 2003 and 2007 will be 120 billion yuan (US$14.46 billion).
Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, hopes to become a logistics and transportation hub that can compete with Hong Kong in the southern Chinese region.
Through the expressway network in 2007, vehicles in the Pearl River Delta region will be able to reach Hong Kong and Macao within half a day, Zhang said.
"That means Hong Kong- and Macao-made products will quickly arrive in the mainland market while products from Southwest China's Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces can be transported to Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in a very short time,'' Zhang said.
Under CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) that came into effect this year, Hong Kong and Macao products enjoy a zero tariff arrangement when entering the mainland.
As China's strategy of developing western areas advances, Zhang predicts, the expressway network will witness a vast vehicle flow, helping improve the investment climate in the Pearl River Delta region, also known as 9--2, or nine provinces and autonomous regions in the mainland plus Hong Kong and Macao.
Guangdong is now talking with the neighbouring provinces and regions for construction of the expressways, Zhang said.
Guangdong-Fujian Highway which starts from Guangdong's Meizhou and ends in Fujian's Longyan will begin construction this year and be completed in 2006.
Another expressway, from Heyuan in Guangdong to Ganzhou in Jiangxi, will commence construction this year and open to traffic in 2005.
Meanwhile Guangdong will speed up construction of the Guangdong Section of the Beijing-Zhuhai Expressway which will be extended to Macao, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Western Corridor and a new Guangzhou-Shenzhen Along Pearl River Expressway in the following months.
Zhang said Guangdong will open multiple channels to raise funds for expressway construction.
Investment from foreigners, Chinese private-run companies and individuals are welcome.
The Guangdong Communication Group, which is under Zhang's bureau, is considering selling some existing expressways or sections to raise funds for future expressway construction.
Zhang said Guangdong will complete 450 kilometres of expressways this year. Investment this year is estimated at 26 billion yuan (US$3.13 billion).
Zhang predicts an investment gap for Guangdong will amount to 23.6 billion yuan (US$2.84 billion) before 2007.