'Road map' to balanced development

To boosting the development in the western part of the country, invigorate the old industrial bases in northeast China, promote the rise of the middle part, and encourage an even quicker pace of growth in the eastern part -- This is a new pattern of economic growth Premier Wen Jiabao describes in his government work report.

Economists and researchers call it a "road map" to a balanced development among all regions.

"This is the first time since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949 for the government to put a harmonious development of regional economies on a plane of unprecedented strategic importance in a bid to narrow the enlarging regional disparities," said Li Shantong, a researcher of the Development Research Center of the State Council.

The government is working on specific zoning and specific regional policies and plans to make them an important part of the 11th five-year plan, according to an official with the State Development and Reform Commission.

"The zoning will not be based on geographical locations and the four major regions will be subdivided into a number of blocks or groups of blocks where different policies would apply", said the official.

Regional policies will be divided into two major categories: one is of encouragement and the other is of assistance. The former applies to developed areas which have the ability of self development, self investment and self accumulation; the latter applies to ecologically fragile less-developed and backward areas with feeble economic foundations which the government will support through investment, tax concession, distribution and transfer of payments.

The western China development drive has yielded initial results, with the growth difference between the eastern and western parts being narrowed from five percentage points in the 1990s to 0.88 percentage points in 2002.



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