Bijie hits gas on road to prosperity under 8-year plan

Updated: 2013-03-12 07:49

By Jin Zhu in Beijing and Zhao Kai in Guiyang (China Daily)

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Bijie hits gas on road to prosperity under 8-year plan

The ambitions of Bijie, a mountainous city in Guizhou province, to realize economic and ecological prosperity will be accelerated under an eight-year development plan issued by the State Council this year, according to local authorities.

The State Council designated the city, once the poorest region in Guizhou, as an experimental zone for "development-oriented poverty alleviation and ecological construction" in 1988 under a proposal by Hu Jintao, then the province's Party chief.

Under the latest plan, a modern industrial system and transportation network will be built in the city by 2020 to push forward local development, according to a statement released by the provincial government in Guiyang on Monday.

Local authorities will also strive to push the urbanization rate to 45 percent by 2020, according to the plan.

"More investment will be put into key sectors in the experimental zone, such as transportation, water conservancy projects and education," Chen Changxu, mayor of Bijie and also a deputy to the National People's Congress, told the annual NPC session in Beijing.

But he did not give a figure for this investment.

"The development experience in the experimental zone will explore a road for other poverty-stricken areas to catch up with developed regions," he said.

The plan, issued by the General Office of the State Council in February, is viewed as a major effort by the poverty-stricken southwestern province to realize its goal of building a prosperous region by 2020.

In 2012, the State Council announced the further promotion of sound but rapid economic and social development in Guizhou province in a document outlining a series of policies allowing the province to protect its ecology, strengthen industrialization and urbanization, and speed up local economic development.

Provincial authorities said Bijie has grown into a thriving economic zone over the past two decades.

The city's GDP reached 87.2 billion yuan ($14 billion) last year, up from 2.3 billion yuan in 1988, official statistics showed.

Significant improvement has also been made in poverty relief, with 4.26 million people lifted out of poverty in Bijie from 1988 to 2012.

The city has highlighted the role of environmental protection in poverty alleviation over the past two decades, Zhang Jiyong, Party chief of Bijie city, said in Guiyang on Monday.

"The city has carried out a series of projects in order to protect the local environment, including wastewater management, implementing rocky desertification control and strengthening the protection of natural forests," he said.

The city's forest area has increased from 14.9 percent of the total to 43 percent over the past 20 years, official figures showed.

Su Jiangyuan in Beijing contributed to this story.

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(China Daily 03/12/2013 page3)