Investments to rejuvenate city
GUANGZHOU, the biggest industrial city in south China, is also a financial hub.
It is home to many domestic financial institutions and a growing group of foreigners.
Up until February, 10 foreign banks had obtained branch licences to set up in Guangzhou.
Many more had representative offices, recognising the benefits of a presence in the traditional finance centre whose influence extends far beyond the city limits.
The city has enjoyed the fruits of China's economic boom in recent years.
It was one of the areas earmarked for financial reform in 1986 by the State Commission for Restructuring the Economy and has since enjoyed considerable investment benefits from Hong Kong's economic boom.
Last year, it reported a 40 per cent increase in fixed-asset investment and economic growth of 20 per cent.
Forecasts for this year are for growth and inflation, both at 15 per cent, and fixed-asset investment, at a more modest 15.6 per cent.
State-owned companies pose a reform challenge in Guangzhou as they do in the rest of China - about half are losing money and turning them around looks like being a drawn out process.
Late last year, Guangzhou Mayor Li Ziliu said the city planned to invest US$70 billion in development over the next 10 years.
Part of the plan included an expansion of the urban area to 555 square kilometres from 200 by the end of the decade.
An independent report has estimated the city's population would grow from its current level of about three million to 4.6 million by 2,010.
According to the provincial government, a 60-kilometre ring road was due for completion by 1996 and substantial investment would be put into commercial and office developments in Pearl River New City.
According to the Ta Kung Pao newspaper, Mr Li said that much of the $70 billion would come from foreign investors.
Infrastructure projects underway include a light rail mass transit system with a total investment of 12.7 billion yuan (HK$13.9 billion).
In February, the Beijing government approved a 14.85 billion yuan new airport for Guangzhou.
Approval came despite a central government clampdown on investment.
The first stage of the Bai Yun International Airport is designed to meet demand up to 2005.
Funding for the airport, situated 17 kilometres from the existing one, will be boosted by the redevelopment of two square kilometres of land at the current site.