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Thursday, November 01, 2001, updated at 22:17(GMT+8)

Hi-Tech Industry Most Vigorous, a Strategic Task for China: Officials

Chinese Vice-Premier Li Lanqing said Thursday in Beijing that it is strategically important for China to develop its hi-tech industries in the coming years.

Li said in a speech at the second session of the China-Germany Hi-Tech Dialog Forum, which began here Monday, that the development of hi-tech industries should be given top priority in key areas of the national economy in the next five to ten years.

"The next five to ten years will be a very important period for China's economic and social development as well as its economic restructuring," he said. "In some key areas relating to the overall development of the national economy, we must pay special attention to the development of hi-tech industries and try to realize surging growth of these areas."

China has successful experiences in the growth of such hi-tech sectors as information technology, bio-engineering, new materials, advanced manufacturing technology and space technology, he said.

China will study and use advanced technology of Germany and other countries across the world in the new century, said the vice-premier.

German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said at the session that Germany and China will both benefit from the cooperation in the hi-tech sector. The two countries can have good cooperation in areas of information technology, bio-technology, gene technology,

environmental protection technology and advanced transportation technology, he said.

The chancellor promised he personally will work to push forward such cooperation.

Most Vigorous Industry in China

The high-tech industry has taken the place of the traditional industry as China's most vigorous sector, a senior official said Thursday in Beijing.

Zeng Peiyan, minister in charge of the State Development Planning Commission, told participants of a China-Germany forum on high-tech industry that China's high-tech industry has been making increasingly great contribution to the entire industrial sector.

From 1996 to 2000, the high-tech industry grew at an average annual rate of 21.2 percent, 11 percentage points higher than that of the industrial sector in the same period. The exports of high-tech products grew by 38.4 percent on average annually, 28 percentage points higher than the country's total exports. The proportion of high-tech exports among total exports rose from 8.4 percent to 14.9 percent.

Zeng said the high-tech products manufacturing sector, in particular, has maintained sustained rapid growth. In 2000, the output value of the electronic and information products manufacturing sector reached 1,000 billion yuan (about 120.9 billion U.S. dollars). That was four times the figure five years ago.

He said China's high-tech agriculture has began to develop vigorously with the wide application of modern biotechnology. About 400 new strains of high-yield, high-quality and disease resistant crops have been bred, and other breeding technologies have also been widely used in animal husbandry and fishery.

High-tech related services, like that of telecommunications, have surged. The number of mobile phone users doubled almost each year, and has reached 131 million so far -- the most in the world.

In terms of regional distribution, the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, the Bohai Sea Rim, and areas along the Shenyang-Dalian expressway have become the country's four most famous high-tech industrial zones, and Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Xi'an the country's four best-known high-tech cities.

China to Accelerate Growth of High-Tech Industry

Zeng said that the time is now ripe for China to accelerate the growth of its high-tech industry.

Zeng said in the keynote speech that the high-tech industry is now the most vigorous sector of China's industries, and the country is ready to speed up its development in the new century.

China has many talented professionals, a number of patented high-tech inventions some of which are near international advanced level, a series of regulations and laws guaranteeing the growth of the high-tech sector, and a growing domestic market for high-tech products.

These factors combined provide a "sound condition" for the growth of the high-tech industry in China, said the minister.

China's upcoming entry into the World Trade Organization will bring new opportunities for the growth of the high-tech industry, he said, as it will give more access to international capital, and help relevant companies renovate their technical know-how and ideas.

In its development plan for the 2001-2005 period, China aims to hasten the growth of the high-tech industry, with emphasis placed on information technology, bio-technology, new materials and space technology.

By 2005, China will try to raise by 50 percent the proportion of the high-tech industry's added value to the gross domestic product from that in 2000, and the proportion of high-tech product exports to the nation's total exports by 25 percent.

To hit the goal, Zeng said, the country has made a special development plan offering preferential treatment in taxation, protection of property rights and capital-raising.

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The high-tech industry has taken the place of the traditional industry as China's most vigorous sector, a senior official said Thursday in Beijing.

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