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Law on western development in pipeline
Latest Updated by 2006-03-14 09:32:10
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NPC & CPPCC Sessions 2006

 GD Provincial People's Congress & CPPCC annual Sessions

China is pushing forward its ambitious "go west" campaign with the imminent completion of a draft law that aims to close the widening gap between the underdeveloped western region and the east's wealthy coastal areas.


Wang Jinxiang, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, described the legislation as "a breakthrough" in China's legislative history because it is the first time for the country to form a law solely for the development of a single region.


"It demonstrates the great significance of western development as it concerns the long-term and sustainable development of the whole country," Wang told China Daily in an exclusive interview.


Wang said the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, China's cabinet, is processing the 14th version of the bill.


"After the office deliberates on the draft law, it will then be submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for review," he said.


Wang declined to predict when the law will be passed by the top legislature, but noted that it has been included in the 10th NPC Standing Committee's legislative plan between 2003 and 2008.


"Personally speaking, I believe the sooner the law on promoting western development is enacted, the more the whole country will benefit," he said.


Wang, who is also executive deputy director of the Office of the Leading Group for Western Region Development of the State Council, made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual session of the 10th NPC, China's top legislature.


The legislation is believed to be a major effort of China's "go west" campaign, which was launched in 2000 to address the growing inequality between the western and eastern regions.


Western China, which comprises some 71.4 per cent of the nation's territory and holds more than half of its mineral resources, has not enjoyed the same degree of prosperity as eastern China.


In 2004, the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the 12 western provinces and autonomous regions accounted for only 18.8 per cent of the country's GDP that year.


Wang said the bill aims to create a favourable legal environment and support for a smooth implementation of the western region development programme.


Although the central government has published some separate regulations and documents to introduce preferential fiscal and taxation policies for the western regions, national lawmakers have been pushing for the legislation since 2000.


Wang said the draft law covers all major aspects of the "go west" campaign. For instance, the bill involves the goals, the respective responsibility of the central government and local governments, the financing channel, the central government's preferential policies and legal measures for protecting investment.


He noted that the draft law is based on the extensive experience of Japan, Canada, Germany, the United States and France in promoting the development of their poor regions.


Despite the benefits expected from the law, the senior official said that heavy-polluting industries by some profit-minded investors would move into the western region.


To protect the environment, he said investment in high-tech, resources-saving industries that emit less pollution is encouraged in the western region.


In fact, the western region has drawn more domestic and overseas investors because of emerging business opportunities.


So far, domestic and overseas investments have reached about 372.6 billion yuan (US$46 billion) in the region, and more than 100 of the world's top 500 companies have invested there.


Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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