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Thursday, June 22, 2000, updated at 16:35(GMT+8)

Chinese Vice Premier on China's Economic Development

Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday urged the entrepreneurs in Britain to invest in China's western area.

Speaking at the welcoming luncheon hosted in London by China- Britain Business Council, Wen said China is implementing the strategy of large-scale development of China's west, which covers more than half of the country's total land area.

"But in economic development, the west lags far behind other parts of the country due to historical and other reasons," he said, adding that the development of the western region will help the coordinated development of local economy and sustained development of China's economy as a whole.

He said the focus of such development was on building the infrastructure, preserving the ecological environment and promoting science, technology and education.

On China's economic development, the Chinese vice premier said China has scored remarkable achievements in economic and social development since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. "Never before had China enjoyed a growth in its economic development and aggregate national strength as fast as in the past 20 years since the introduction of reform and opening-up."

From 1978 to 1999, China's gross domestic product (GDP) increased 5.8 times with an average annual growth rate of 9.6 percent, making China the seventh largest economy in the world in terms of economic aggregates and ensuring its people a relatively comfortable life in general, he said in the speech.

Wen noted China is a developing country and the situation it now faces is economic globalization and the increasingly rapid development of science and technology in the world. "We must seize the opportunities and speed up our development to keep up with the trends of the times."

The Chinese vice premier also said economic restructuring would be China's main task in seeking economic development and China would depend on the progress in science and technology,education and the development of human resources for our economic development.

He pledged that the Chinese government would press ahead with reform, gradually improve the socialist market economy and open wider to the outside world.

On China-UK relations, the Chinese vice premier said in recent years, the exchange of visits by the heads of government of the two countries, and particularly Chinese President Jiang Zemin's successful visit to Britain, have greatly promoted the exchanges and cooperation between the two governments and peoples.

The China-UK friendly relations have reached a new stage of all- round development, and their exchanges and cooperation in the economic, scientific, technological, cultural and other fields have entered a new dynamic era, with UK becoming China's second largest trading partner among the European countries,he added.

The Chinese vice premier arrived here on Tuesday for a six-day official visit to Britain. He will also visit Switzerland and attend the World Summit of Social Development and Beyond:Achieving Social Development for All in a Globalized World, a special session of the U.N. General Assembly to be held in Geneva.

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Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday urged the entrepreneurs in Britain to invest in China's western area.

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