Inland region 'key' to growth

Updated: 2013-09-05 00:34

By HE WEI in Nanning (China Daily)

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East-to-west drive is latest government move, says Li

Premier Li Keqiang has identified China's inland areas as "the biggest space" for the nation's development.

Li made the remarks in a pavilion tour during the 10th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Inland region 'key' to growth

Premier Li Keqiang visits the Thailand hall at the 10th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Tuesday.[WU ZHIYI / CHINA DAILY]

The city serves as a key gateway connecting China and its neighbors to the southeast.

The east-to-west shift is the trend for economic development, said the premier, as China's opening up follows the path that extends from the coast to the inland regions.

While maintaining the quality of growth in coastal areas, Li said much attention should be paid to exploring the possibilities of development in inland areas.

"It is therefore an inevitable choice to bolster the development of the three emerging economic powerhouses: the old northeast industrial bases, the middle and western regions adjacent to the Yangtze River and the southern and middle-western hinterlands," Li said.

The premier voiced the hope that the northwest areas will also become new frontiers in the regional opening up.

He called for the creation of favorable conditions to promote synergy among the eastern, middle and western parts of the country, so that regions complement one another and build on their respective advantages.

Li said he placed high hopes on unlocking the potential of the middle and western areas, which should play an active role in the westward migration of industries, and pushing ahead the opening of domestic and international markets.

Accompanied by local government authorities and residents, Li on Tuesday began his first trip as premier to the 10th anniversary expo, which attracted more than 2,300 companies from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The expo has become an important platform to promote trade and relationships.

With Li at the wheel, a simulated transportation graphic portrayed a dense network of cruise routes connecting Guangxi's Qinzhou port and 10 ports around ASEAN.

Better connectivity between China and ASEAN can only be achieved through intensified infrastructure development, which removes the final barrier to technology transfer and person-to-person contact, said Huang Hao, sales director of Guangxi Sacred New Energy Co Ltd, who was present at the event.

In light of the "diamond decade" that China and ASEAN are marking, Li encouraged Guangxi to firmly grasp its opportunities by fully leveraging its proximity to the sea and some 600 million people. Li urged Guangxi to strive to become a strategic focal point of local development.

Talking to young performers wearing their national costumes, Li said China and ASEAN members are like a big family with a common culture and vision for development.

"Bilateral relations will have a splendid future, like a brocade you are embroidering," he said.

In a pavilion with the theme "International Economic Cooperation", Li was introduced by some Chinese enterprises to their investment and business performances in ASEAN.

To achieve a win-win outcome and mutual reciprocity, Li urged them to abide by local laws and regulations, respect local customs, fulfill their social responsibilities and bring benefits to local people.

The premier was shown the use of agricultural and information technology in ASEAN markets at several high-tech booths.

He stressed the importance of locating mutual demand as a driving force to spark technological innovation and broaden the fields of cooperation.

Li also welcomed foreign businessmen to ride China's economic boom to expand their business in China and make more Chinese friends.

Ty Channa, deputy director of the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, said that strengthened bilateral ties can aid ASEAN, notably Cambodia, weather a slow global economy.

Huang Jincheng, assistant chief editor of the Malaysian newspaper Oriental Daily, said Li's remarks show the Chinese government's sincerity and its attention to ASEAN.

He added that it is quite necessary for China and ASEAN to develop close ties and there is great potential for bilateral cooperation in commerce, trade and culture.

To deepen pragmatic economic cooperation, Li proposed "an upgraded version" of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, adding that the Chinese side will strive to expand bilateral trade to $1 trillion by 2020 and increase bilateral investment by $150 billion during the next eight years.