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  Deng Xiaoping's hometown experiences economic reform
Updated: 2004-08-20 11:47

Guang'an, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's hometown, neglected during his lifetime, appears to be a rising economic star after his death.

The city, in southwest China's Sichuan Province, ranked first in Sichuan in growth rate last year.

When a market-oriented economy was launched in Guang'an in 2001, state-owned enterprises accounted for 41.5 percent of the local economy. The state sector now shrank to 17.5 percent, said Chen Xukai, director of the Guang'an Economic and Trade Committee.

All officials and local residents agreed the best gift to mark the 100th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's birthday is to further promote the market-oriented reform.

"Guang'an should not only stick to a market economy, but it should excel. Otherwise, Guang'an is unworthy to be Deng's hometown," said Xiao Wenbin, a farmer of Paifang Village where the former residence of Deng Xiaoping is located.

Guang'an covers an area of 6,360 square kilometers, has a population of 4.2 million and is one of the leading pig, silk, grain and orange producers in the country. It is rich in more than 20 mineral resources, including iron, coal and salt.

As recently as 2001, Guang'an was the third from the bottom in Sichuan in gross domestic product growth. The city was dotted with dirty streets and polluted rivers. A Hong Kong newspaper stated that the backwardness of Deng Xiaoping's hometown was a reflection on the remote and rough process of China's reform and opening up.

Since the market-oriented reform started in Guang'an in 2001, the private economy has taken a big leap forward. Joint stock companies make up more than 50 percent of all businesses, and a market economic system has taken shape. Chen Xukai attributed the success to Deng Xiaoping Theory.

Luo Qinghong, chairman of the Guang'an-based Aizhong Co., Ltd., said the market economy has revitalized Guang'an and raised the competitiveness and profitability of local businesses.

The city's industrial output value increased from 2.1 billion yuan (US$257 million) in 2000 to 4.87 billion yuan (US$586 million) in 2003. The profits gained from the industrial sector soared from less than 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) to 200 million yuan (US$24 million).

Despite the marked increase, the figures reveal that Guang'an's industrial sector is rather weak. Industry made up 28 percent of the city's gross domestic product last year, far behind similar cities in China.

Chen admitted that Guang'an is still an agricultural base. Its industry is still in the bud. He insisted, though, that the city's market economic reform has been successful.

"We are planning the second stage of reform, which will optimize the limited existing state-owned businesses with funds absorbed from abroad and boost the city's energy and food industries," he added.



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