2008-06-25 08:41:31 GMT 2008-06-25 16:41:31 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
BEIJING, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank's lending to China reached 1.51 billion U.S. dollars in the 2008 fiscal year dating from June 30, 2007 to June 30, 2008, said the WB Beijing office on Wednesday.
The WB's Board of Executive Directors approved four new projects in China on Tuesday, the last four for the fiscal year of 2008, said the WB Beijing office.
These four projects were excellent examples of how the WB could help China with its environmental and social challenges, said David Dollar, World Bank Country Director for China.
The new rural health project, getting WB loan of 50 million U.S. dollars, sought to support and extend the rural health reforms carried out by the Chinese government by testing a series of new innovations in financing, delivery of services and basic public health.
The WB would lend 50 million U.S. dollars to the new rural migrant skills development and employment project. The project would support China to deal with the human skills challenge rising from its huge rural migration during urbanization.
The WB would work with local governments of northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, East China's Shandong and Anhui provinces, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security to improve skills development programs for migrants.
Through the new Xi'an sustainable urban transport project, with a WB loan of 150 million U.S. dollars, bus prioritization, bicycle routes, traffic calming and speed-reducing strategies would be introduced in an effort to foster better road use and access to cultural sites in the northwestern city renowned for Terracotta Army and other cultural relics.
The WB would also lend 300 million U.S. dollars to help construct a new 355-km dedicated high-speed passenger rail line between Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province and Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan Province.
The rail line is part of the new 2,100-km dedicated high-speed passenger rail line linking Beijing with Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province.
Upon completion in 2010, the rail line is expected to provide a major boost in rail transport capacity while reducing the travel time for passengers from present 24 hours to less than 10 hours.
China continues to be one of the largest borrowers with the World Bank during the fiscal year 2008. Most WB projects approved this year aim to address environmental challenges through improvement of public transport systems, expansion of urban wastewater treatment and pollution control, and strengthened approaches to energy efficiency, said the WB Beijing office.
In the aftermath of the May 12 earthquake in southwest China, the WB offered China a 1.5-million-dollar grant to support technical assistance for recovery and reconstruction efforts as well as expertise assistance.