New economic zone carries west China's dream
China's State Council has granted the same favorable policies to Liangjiang New Area as those given to the Pudong and Binhai new areas in Shanghai and Tianjin respectively.
But compared to the other new areas, Liangjiang would have more complicated responsibilities in carrying out the country's strategic development plans, said officials at the inauguration ceremony.
Wang Qingyun, of the National Development and Reform Commission, specified Liangjiang's functions as:
-- a pilot zone of comprehensive urban and rural development;
-- an inland base for advanced manufacturing and modern service base in inland area;
-- a financial and innovation center;
-- a gate of reform and opening-up in west China.
"The central government sees reforms in Liangjiang New Area as significant measures to counter difficulties in the global economic downturn and and carry out strategies to rebalance economic development," Wang said in a speech.
The inauguration of Liangjiang New Area coincided with the 13th anniversary of Chongqing's establishment as the country's fourth municipality, and the only one in west China.
Bo Xilai, Communist Party of China chief of Chongqing, said Liangjiang would further boost the development of China's west, and help bridge the economic gap between western and coastal regions.
"China economy has relied heavily on the export-oriented coastal region over the past 30 years, which has been the destination for 90 percent of the country's export tax rebates," he said.
He said Liangjiang could drive development in an area of 6.8 million square km. Its ripple effect would be much larger than that of Pudong, dubbed the "locomotive" of economic development in an area of 200,000 square km in the Yangtze River Delta, and that of Binhai, a financial hub for 300,000 to 400,000 square km of the Bohai Sea Economic Circle.
Huang Qifan, Mayor of Chongqing, said Liangjiang New Area covering 1,200 square km would become a modern industrial center with a population of 4 million.
The area's targeted gross domestic product was 600 billion yuan (87.8 billion U.S. dollars) by 2020, up from 80 billion yuan last year, he said.
Rail transport, power equipment, new-energy cars, defense and IT would be the pillar industries in Liangjiang, which would enjoy favorable policies in planning, finance, taxation, investment and foreign trade, he said.
Unlike Pudong and Binhai, Liangjiang was not established as a new area on open ground. Liangjiang boasts the only river port bonded zone and airport bonded zone in the western region. It is the de-facto logistic center in the upper reaches of China's longest river, the Yangtze.
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