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Guangdong striving for sustainable growth
Latest Updated by 2005-11-21 16:00:50
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Guangdong, an economic power engine in southern China, is facing "bottlenecks" of resources, technology and talent for sustainable development after having led the nation in economic growth for 16 years in a row.

The province has benefited tremendously as a foreland of China's reform and opening-up initiated by late senior leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978. It is home to three of all the five special economic zones and its GDP rocketed from 18.585 billion yuan (2.29billion US dollars) in 1978 to 1.6 trillion yuan (197.77 billion US dollars) in 2004, one ninth of the national total.

Guangdong has forged trade ties with more than 200 countries and regions worldwide and posted 357.1 billion US dollars of foreign trade in 2004, nearly one third of the national total.

However, critics said Guangdong has been developing its economyat the heavy costs of resources, which the provincial officials did not deny.

"Guangdong has consumed a huge amount of resources for economicgrowth over the past years, but it is actually short of resources," acknowledged Tang Hao, vice secretary-general of the Guangdong provincial government.

In 2004, Guangdong's energy consumption was equivalent to 152.1million tons of standard coal, or 7.7 percent of China's total, according to the provincial Department of Statistics.

Its per capita energy reserve, however, is less than five percent of the national average, statistics show.

Guangdong province has only 0.027 hectares of per capita arableland, less than half of the average national level, and its per capita water resources averages 1,390 cubic meters, 68 percent of the national average.

Another bottleneck, technology, or rather, technological self-innovation, is also hampering the sustainable development of the province, according to Tang, though Guangdong has utilized thelargest amount of foreign capital in China.

By the year 2004, Guangdong has drawn more than 150 billion US dollars of foreign direct investment. So far, businesses from over100 countries and regions have come to invest in Guangdong, and the Fortune 500 multinationals in the world have also invested in Guangdong by setting up more than 400 branches there.

"Guangdong, nevertheless, has an edge only in size of the industry but not in technology," Tang said. "Many Chinese businesses in Guangdong, small and medium-sized ones in particular,are weak in technological innovation by themselves."

"Most of the core technologies and key equipment have to be imported from abroad or have been dominated by foreign contractors," he added.

In addition, Guangdong is still short of talents, though it hasbeen drawing elites from other provinces or even from overseas each year, Tang said.

By 2003, the most recent time that data is available, Guangdong had the 14th largest team of scientists and engineering professionals among all the 31 Chinese mainland localities. Yet only 36 out of every 10,000 were engaged in scientific and technological activities, as against 109 reported in Shanghai.

"An acute shortage of sci-tech professionals is hampering the industrial upgrade in Guangdong," Tang said. Analysts said that as an economic leader in China, Guangdong's impasse may also foreshadow other provinces.

According to Provincial Governor Huang Huahua, Guangdong is thinking of measures to ease the bottlenecks in a bid to achieve sustainable growth.

"Guangdong will make great efforts to develop recyclable economy and actively promote a resources-saving and environment-friendly developing mode so as to build a harmonious society," he said.

Meanwhile, the economically-thriving province will encourage local businesses to improve technological innovation and seek industrial upgrade, while the government will foster education, particularly among its rural population, to tackle human resources deficiency, Huang told an International Consultative Conference onthe Future Economic Development of Guangdong last Friday.

Twelve foreign advisors attended the conference, mostly executives of multinational corporations, industry specialists andscholars.

Guangdong has been soliciting foreign advisors' advice on its economic and social development since 1999.

Editor: Donald

By: Source: China View website
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