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Opening-up seen nationwide

By Ding Qingfen in Boao, Hainan  (China Daily)

08:32, April 07, 2013

China's eastern cities have led the way, but the rest of the country is catching up

While China's east coast continues to be the model for opening-up, the nation's central and western regions are following the path quickly, according to a report by the National Development and Reform Commission released on Saturday.

A few cities from the central and western regions, including Wuhan, Chengdu and Xi'an, are rising fast and perform "very well" in opening up to foreign businesses, said the report.

According to the China opening-up index report, launched by the International Cooperation Center of the NDRC, Guangdong province and Shanghai are at the forefront of the nation's opening-up drives.

Guangdong's Shenzhen and Guangzhou and Fujian province's Xiamen rank as the top three opening-up cities nationwide, it said.

The report, based on research on economic, social and technological aspects, aims to provide the Chinese government with clues on how and in what sectors the nation should open up its economy. It was presented as part of the Boao Forum on Saturday.

"The nation's eastern region far outperforms its central and western areas in how it opens up," said Liu Jianxing, division director of the International Cooperation Center of the NDRC, who was in charge of research for the report. "Shenzhen sets a very good example in implementing the opening-up policy."

But "systematic reforms are needed in the coastal region to help it maintain the top position," he said.

The report said the coastal provinces of Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shandong, together with the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin, are currently leading in efforts to open up. According to Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-minister in charge of the NDRC, the report provides guidance on how to improve the quality of urbanization.

Premier Li Keqiang has repeatedly said China will prioritize expanding domestic consumption in years ahead, with urbanization being the major source.

Although the central and western parts lag far behind the east in opening-up, cities such as Wuhan, Chengdu and Xi'an are rising stars, said the report.

"We cannot ignore the rapid progress that they have made in attracting foreign businesses," said Liu.

Western cities and those from the central part could follow a much different path than the coastal cities used in opening-up, he said.

During the past three decades, due to its opening-up policy, China has grown into the most appealing foreign direct-investment destination among the emerging markets.

At a recent meeting with executives and other representatives from more than 100 multinationals who attended the China Development Forum in Beijing, the Chinese premier said the country will open up more services and industries related to energy saving and environmental protection.

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