Guizhou keen to cast off image of poverty
AGATHA NGAI in Guiyang
Landlocked Guizhou province has high hopes of shedding its poverty-stricken image after visits by top Chinese leaders, officials said yesterday.
In the provincial capital Guiyang yesterday, vice-governor Lou Jiwei said he was confident of the southern province's development, which has long been hampered by its poor transport.
'The central Government is increasing its assistance to us. This can be reflected in the recent inspection visit by top leaders to Guizhou,' said Mr Lou, referring to a February visit by Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin.
'However, this level of support was not seen in the past,' Mr Lou said.
He cited a new airport in Guiyang as an example.
The new airport, which replaces one built in 1958, will open next month. It will be able to handle five million travellers a year.
Of its 1.2 billion yuan (HK$1.11 billion) construction cost, 730 million yuan came from the central Government, including a loan of 460 million to the Civil Aviation General Administration. 'This kind of project definitely needs the participation of the central Government,' said Mr Lou, citing other examples of road construction with central funding.
These include a road linking Guiyang and Nanning, and a railway running from Guizhou to Kunming.
Mr Lou said Guizhou was planning to absorb more enterprises from coastal cities, mainly from Shenzhen, Qingdao and Ningbo, by offering them low-cost labour.
'In fact, we are not so 'inland'. We are only 500 miles [800 kilometres] from the coastal areas. But the labour cost here could be half [that of the coastal areas],' he said.
Moreover, Mr Lou said last year the central Government for the first time allocated a 259-million-yuan grant to Guizhou to subsidise the province's development. In addition, Beijing also provided a 30-million-yuan interest-free loan to develop tourism.
Beijing invests 400 million to 500 million yuan annually in agriculture in Guizhou where nearly 90 per cent of the province's total area of 176,000 square kilometres is mountainous.