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Changjitu zone powered by NE Asian trade

By Li Fusheng | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-25 07:21

A 70,000-square-kilometer economic zone in Jilin province is set to become a new powerhouse in Northeast China, said local officials.

The Changjitu (Changchun, Jilin and Tumen River) economic zone includes Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture and parts of Changchun and Jilin, two major cities in the province.

The zone offers the biggest opportunity to fuel the province's economic and social development since China launched its reform and opening up policy in the late 1970s, officials said.

Home to 7.7 million people, the zone's GDP reached 671.2 billion yuan in 2012, accounting for 56.3 percent of the province's total. It was an increase of 38.3 percent from 2009 when the State Council gave the nod to establish the zone.

It is seen as another major move to revitalize Northeast China following the 1992 launch of the Greater Tumen Initiative that includes China, Russia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea and Mongolia.

According to the blueprint, the economic zone will further open up and improve its economic clout by 2015 and grow into an important economic engine in Northeast China by 2020.

To realize the goal, the provincial government has been improving infrastructure.

In late 2010, a high-speed train between Changchun and Jilin started operation, cutting travel time to half an hour.

Meanwhile, Jilin is extending itself northward and westward to Changchun to co-develop industries such as auto manufacturing, agricultural product processing and rail cars.

As part of the effort to better serve export-oriented companies in the region, local authorities started to build the Xinglong Comprehensive Bonded Zone in Changchun in late 2011.

With a planned area of 4.89 square kilometers, it will offer a range of favorable policies on export-related taxes to companies in the bonded zone and facilitate exports of their products.

Expected to start trial operations in October, it had already attracted 17 companies by early June, reported the local newspaper New Culture View.

The bonded zone vows to generate 1 billion yuan ($163 million) in taxes in the next three years, the report said.

At the same time, authorities in the city of Jilin are working on a Sino-Singaporean food project.

Begun last fall, the project has a planned area of 57 square kilometers and will attract more than 130 billion yuan in investment over the next three years, said local officials.

They added the project will help forge a complete "farm-to-fork" food chain in the city and develop a modern agricultural industry.

Yanbian, another major part of the Changjitu economic zone, is seeking to make full use of its proximity to the DPRK and Russia to fuel its development.

There are now at least 10 ports of the two countries within 200 kilometers of Hunchun, a major port city in Yanbian.

Local officials say the road connecting Hunchun and the DPRK's Najin port has been revamped, making it possible to transport goods from Hunchun through Najin to Shanghai or Ningbo in East China.

The route from Hunchun through Russia's Zarubino port to Japan's Niigata has also been restored.

Also, the Hunchun-Makharino railway port reopened to traffic in early August after a nine-year closure.

Chen Weigen, deputy governor of Jilin, noted that the port greatly reduces the time and cost of goods transported between the two countries and also stimulates two-way investment.

Russian Deputy Transport Minister Alexey Tsydenov said at a ceremony marking resumption of service that the rail line will help economic development in the Russian Far East and enhance already extensive economic and trade cooperation between Russia and Northeast China, especially Jilin.

It is the only international rail line to Russia from Jilin and one of three from China. It initially started operation in 2002.

To further improve relations with neighboring countries, the China-Northeast Asia Expo has been held annually in Changchun since 2005.


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