Premier Wen says China will continue developing western region (2)

15:30, October 16, 2009      

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Timor Leste's Prime Minister Jose Alexandre Xanana Gusmao, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka, Cote d'Ivoire Prime Minister Soro Kigbafori Guillaume and Kenya Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga (from L to R) pose for a group photo during the opening ceremony of the 10th Western China International Economy and Trade Fair and the Second Western China Forum on International Cooperation in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Oct. 16, 2009. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

More than 43 percent of investment allocated by the central government to expand domestic demand and fight the financial crisis had been used for projects to improve living standards, infrastructure projects, post-disaster reconstruction and technological innovation in western regions, he said.

In the wake of the financial crisis, China rolled out an economic stimulus package with a 4 trillion yuan investment plan in 2009 and 2010 to finance massive projects nationwide.

In the first half, total gross domestic product in the western region achieved an annualized growth rate of 11.8 percent, he added. Nationally, the economy expanded 7.1 percent over the same period.

The West Development Strategy is a policy adopted by the Chinese government in January 2000 to help underdeveloped western region catch up with the more prosperous eastern region.

The 12 western provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have a combined population of about 370 million. They include Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, which were badly hit by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 last year.

In the last 10 years, the central government had financed more than 3.5 trillion yuan (512.4 billion U.S. dollars) to support development of the western region, Wen said.

This year alone, China planned to invest 468.9 billion yuan in projects to boost development of the western region, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Monday.

During the nine years from 2000 to 2008, GDP of the western region jumped from 1.66 trillion yuan to 5.82 trillion yuan, at an annual average growth rate of 11.7 percent, said Wen.

More than 9.54 million rural residents had been lifted from poverty in the western region since 1999, and the country would mark the 10th anniversary of the strategy next January, he said.

The government was outlining new policies to support the West Development Strategy in the next 10 years.

Wen presented a four-point proposal for more cooperation with 14 countries neighboring the western region in such sectors as energy and transportation, trade and investment as well as energy saving and environmental protection.

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