2008-02-21 19:39:23 Xinhua English
BEIJING, Feb. 22 -- State Council approval of the Guangxi Beibu Bay Economic Zone Development Plan shows the area is part of the country's development strategy and will "usher in a new era", Ma Biao, chairman of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region said yesterday.
The zone, which comprises the four cities of Nanning, Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang, covers 42,500 sq km - about a fifth of the region's total area, and at the end of 2006, was home to 12.55 million people. It also has almost 1,600 km of coastline.
It will be "an important international and regional economic cooperation zone", Ma said in Nanning, the region's capital.
The zone will be a base for coastal industries and for cooperative ventures in logistics, commerce and trade, as well as in information exchange between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he said.
Ma said Guangxi will open up further to ASEAN members, Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States, as well as to Hong Kong and Macao.
A solid infrastructure and good transport network are essential to the success of the economic area, Ma said, and this will need the support of central and local governments.
The zone is expected to become the country's latest engine for economic growth, following the Pearl River Delta in the south, the Yangtze River Delta in the east and the Bohai Sea Rim in the north, Ma said.
"Beibu Bay has good geological and resource advantages and has the potential to accelerate its development in the future. China's coastal economic zones will become a ring with the establishment of the Beibu Bay economic zone," Ma said.
He said the mid-term goal is for the economic zone to achieve a per capita gross domestic product above the national average by 2020.
The new zone will not only boost regional development, but also lay a solid base for economic cooperation with its surrounding areas.
The government's 11th five-year program for western development lists Beibu Bay as one of three top priority economic development zones.
Ma said its development will have great significance and provide both local and national benefits.
(Source: China Daily)