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Fortune forum puts Chengdu on the map

By WEI TIAN (China Daily)

08:10, June 09, 2013

Emerging western regions are indispensable for the balanced development of China's economy — and one city is in a prime position to play a major role, officials and economists said on Saturday.

"For a country with a vast territory such as China, development of different regions must be balanced to ensure social stability and sustainable growth," said Fan Gang, director of China's National Economic Research Institute.

He was speaking on the last day of the three-day 2013 Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province and the fourth Chinese city to host the event, after Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Fan said other geographically large countries, such as the United States, Brazil and even India, are surrounded by oceans on at least three sides, thus most areas have equal chance for development. But China does not have such advantageous conditions.

However, he said, this does not mean development in China's vast inland can be neglected, especially in the region containing Sichuan and Chongqing.

"Historically, Chengdu has been a regional city, so it could serve as the center of the western region as it is transformed during the urbanization process," Fan said. "Development of this region, which is home to one-tenth of the nation's population, is vital to the overall growth of China."

Moreover, boosting opportunities for Sichuan, a major source of laborers, means more opportunities for migrant workers to return from coastal areas because of their age and the surging costs in large cities.

"They are mostly experienced workers, which is perfect for big companies relocating to western regions," Fan said, explaining that this would help solve the employment issue for one of China's most populated areas.

Chengdu is home to more than 200 Global Fortune 500 companies, and Fan said by hosting the forum more companies will keep an eye on opportunities in the city.

Serge Dumont, vice-chairman of advertising and marketing giant Omnicom Group and another delegate to the forum, agreed and said the city's hosting of the event showed great foresight.

"The 600 delegates have experienced the new frontier of growth in China," he said.

"Chengdu is a city of 15 million inhabitants, and is the capital of a province as populous as Germany. Yet until now, most people in the US and Europe would not have been familiar with it," he said, adding that one of the key benefits for delegates was that the city has now been put on their map.

"People will realize that growth in China is happening beyond the main cities," he said.

Ge Honglin, mayor of Chengdu, said he is confident the city will succeed in luring more foreign investors.
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