Southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has set its sights on
becoming a regional logistics and trading base with the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN).
It also wants to set up an information exchange center with ASEAN
"The future development of China-ASEAN regional cooperation should include
Pan-Beibu Bay economic cooperation, the continuing cooperation with the Mekong
River Sub-regional Economic Zone and the construction of the economic belt from
the capital city Nanning to Singapore," Guangxi Party Secretary Liu Qibao said
during a high-level consultative conference held in Beijing yesterday.
In China's coastal regions, most economic activities are centered in three
economic regions: the Pearl River Delta in the south, the Yangtze River Delta,
and the Bohai Economic Rim in the north.
Compared with these regions, economic activity in Beibu Bay is relatively
China's 11th Five-Year Plan for Western Development has designated the Beibu
Bay (Guangxi) economic zone as one of three in the west where the economy will
be developed first.
Comprising Nanning, Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang, the zone has 166
shipping berths with an annual handling capacity of 65 million tons. It also has
the country's first expressway linked to Vietnam, an ASEAN member.
"If there is another 200 km of railway, Nanning and Singapore could be
linked," Liu said, adding that airports in Nanning and Beihai have flights to
more than 40 Chinese cities and all major Southeast Asian cities.
"One of the top issues on the agenda is to cooperatively build the
Nanning-Singapore railway and expressways," Liu said.
He also called for the establishment of a bonded port area within the zone
and a comprehensive bonded zone in Guangxi's southwestern Pingxiang city,
China's "South Gate", to the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.
Liu's proposals were echoed by a number of senior officials at the
Du Ying, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission,
said the development of the Pan-Beibu Bay region is also significant to the
import security of key energies.
Chen Qingtai, the former Party secretary of the Development and Research
Center of the State Council, said the zone's development should follow the
experiences and lessons of other developed coastal areas to ensure its success.
(China Daily 07/24/2007 page3)