Li sows seeds of growth in west

Updated: 2013-08-19 08:01

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

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Any clue as to the whereabouts of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has always attracted widespread attention and triggered various interpretations at home and abroad.

On Saturday, Li started a three-day inspection of Gansu province, a poor region in northwestern China, not long after his appointment as head of the Leadership Group for China's Western Development Strategy in July.

Li sows seeds of growth in westLi's current visit sends a clear message that China cares greatly about its western region, hoping to bring the nation's less-developed areas out of poverty, narrowing the gap with the coastal areas.

And as the premier himself has repeatedly said over the past five months, the rise of China's western region will be a crucial part of the national strategy for economic reinvention.

Over the past two days, Li visited villagers of Minxian county, which experienced a magnitude-6.6 earthquake in July, assuring them that their homes would be rebuilt. He also inspected the railroad under construction between Gansu province and Chongqing, stressing the strategic importance of infrastructure.

He met with students in Lanzhou University, encouraging them to embark on their own business ventures and to remain in western China. He also visited a private company in the packaging business, asking the workers about their salaries and housing issues. He promised to alleviate loan pressures for the micro- and midrange enterprises and to exempt them from unreasonable taxes.

His concerns were focused and concrete: poverty reduction and job creation, and how the central government can help. Along the way, Li asked detailed questions, and where he found real problems, he urged officials to find solutions.

While the world's second-largest economy slows down due to the reduced global demand for made-in-China goods, China is dedicated to transforming its economic development model, to make the economy more sustainable, healthy and balanced.

And the western region is a significant part of that transformation.

Over the past three decades, eastern China has been the growth engine of the Chinese economy. But labor costs have risen rapidly in the east, and China's western region, which boasts low labor costs and a huge domestic consumption market, now has a chance to prosper to help balance the national economy.

More companies are moving away from the coast and heading to western China. And some western areas have led the way in economic growth in the past few years.

The central government is also offering support. Last year, the State Council approved the 12th Five-Year Plan for Further Promoting the Economy of the Western Regions, expanding infrastructure construction while reforming and opening up the region.

Judging by Li's recent movements, the development of China's western region is certainly a priority, and we can only hope that the premier's presence brings results.