Five years after it was floated, China's plan to develop its western regions has helped provinces such as Sichuan to break out of economic isolation, but has failed to realize the goal of closing the gap with the flourishing eastern seaboard.
\nSichuan, for centuries one of China's granaries, today boasts of attracting 88 of the world's top 500 corporations and has raked in more investment in the last five years than ever before.
\nThe province of 87 million has the ninth largest gross national product in China, but a humbling figure is the province's paltry 2 percent share of all foreign investment into China last year.
\n"This isn't bad, but too small when compared to the east," said Tang Limin, director of the provincial office for the promotion of investment. He said the percentage of capital injected into Sichuan last year was "a bit compacted."
\n"After having concentrated investment on infrastructure projects, we are now trying to develop our resources," Tang said.
\nSome Chinese experts are more forthright in their views about the plan to develop the west.
\n"I think many things have changed since the start of the policy of `going west,' but the problem is that the gap between the east and west has continued to grow," said Liu Shiqing, an academic at the Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences.
\nLiu cites the building of high speed railways in the eastern part of the country listed in a recent national development plan as an example of the continued preference for investment in the east.
\nStill cities like Chengdu, which French President Jacques Chirac was set to visit yesterday, have benefited from the initiative to bring western China out of its backwardness.
\nChengdu has registered a 13 percent annual growth rate in recent years, compared to between 8.0 percent and 9.0 percent growth nationwide.
\nThe city has also begun to attract both large Chinese and Western corporations, including a US$270 million investment from computer chip maker Intel, which the government says is the largest single investment in western China.
\n"For light manufacturing, Chengdu is better than Chongqing, which is more suitable to heavy industry," said Zhang Ruji, the head of the Chengdu-based US law firm King Wood, discussing the rivalry between China's two big southwestern cities.
\nOnce an old military base, Sichuan is rich in water resources and well placed to compete in machinery, aircraft and new technologies.
\nAlthough Sichuan ranks high among China's regions in education and culture, it suffers from a lack of publicity and name recognition, which explains in part why the policy of developing the west has failed to spark much enthusiasm.
\n"We are not on the radar screen," said Richard Morgan, project director for Eli, a British consulting firm which is seeking to bring to Chengdu big companies that can help promote the west.
\nTang Limin agreed: "The natural resources and assets of Sichuan are known in China, but not overseas."
\nIronically, Sichuan is the home province of Deng Xiaoping (
China reported 45 new COVID-19 cases for Saturday, down from 54 the previous day, with all but one involving travelers from overseas, the country’s health authority said yesterday. In the past seven days, China has reported 313 imported cases of the novel coronavirus, but only six confirmed cases of domestic transmission, Chinese National Health Commission data showed. Most of those imported cases have involved Chinese returning home from abroad. Airlines have been ordered to sharply cut international flights from yesterday, while restrictions on foreigners entering the country went into effect on Saturday. Five more people died on Saturday, all of them in Wuhan,
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
‘HEROIC’: A lack of personal protective equipment has led to high infection rates among health workers in places like Spain and Italy, a nurses’ association said More equipment is needed to protect the world’s nurses working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to save lives, the head of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) said. “They are heroic. I think there is no other way to describe what they are doing at this moment,” said Howard Catton, a British nurse who is the council’s CEO. Infection rates of 9 percent and 12 to 14 percent have been reported among health workers in Italy and Spain respectively, he said, adding that nurses have died in the two nations, as well as Iran and Indonesia. “We have no doubt