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Thursday, May 03, 2001, updated at 19:08(GMT+8)

North City Langfang to Take Centre Stage at Trade Fair

Often forgotten Langfang will become the centre of attention this month with the opening of the 18th Hebei Trade Fair on May 18.

Situated between Beijing and Tianjin, Langfang is hoping to use its role as a support city for the two metropolises to promote its own development.

"The event is expected to provide great opportunities for us to develop a high-tech and export-oriented economy," said Song Changrui, deputy secretary of Langfang Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China.

The city plans to sign contracts on 47 foreign-funded projects involving a total investment of US$640 million and on 62 domestic projects needing investment of 2.9 billion yuan (US$349 million), Song said.

"We will also present reports on 200 promising projects to seek potential investment and co-operation," he said.

"Serving the two cities has proven to be an effective strategy for our city's own development," Song said.

He explained: "Langfang has become a part of the Beijing-Tianjin economic ring and an ideal place for investment."

The city, located 40 kilometres east of Beijing and 60 kilometres west of Tianjin, has established 47 agricultural products supply bases since 1995. These bases provide large amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and milk for the Beijing and Tianjin markets.

"Our service has paid off," Song said. These bases rake in revenue of roughly 8.5 billion yuan (US$1.02 billion) each year.

Given the arrival of a new economic age, Song said, Langfang is no longer satisfied with being an agricultural products base and aims to become a training centre for professional people as well as a weekend resort for citizens from the bustling urban regions that surround it.

Langfang has established venture capital of 50 million yuan (US$6.02 million) to support development of its high technology sector.

So far, the city has approved 115 high-tech projects, involving total investment of 12.56 billion yuan (US$1.51 billion). In 2000, the production value of high-tech industries came to 4.5 billion yuan (US$542 million).

Langfang's high-tech efforts are being co-ordinated within the frame work of the newly established Oriental University City.

"The Oriental University City has introduced a new way of integrating industry, education and research," Song said.

The city is expected to become an important channel through which government and industry can obtain information and have access to new technologies and scientific achievements, he said.

The first phase of the project was completed and put into use in September 2000. It now hosts 10,000 teachers and students from Beijing No 25 Middle School and representatives from seven colleges, including Beijing Polytechnic University and Beijing Union University.

Located in the Langfang Economic and Technological Development Zone, Oriental University City will eventually have a total floor space of 7.5 million square metres and be able to accommodate 200,000 students and professors.

Also heavily populated with professionals is Langfang's Yanjiao Economic and Technological Development Zone. The zone is home to groups from eight colleges and 11 scientific research institutes.

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Often forgotten Langfang will become the centre of attention this month with the opening of the 18th Hebei Trade Fair on May 18.

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