Figures reflect slight growth increase
Guangzhou's gross domestic product grew 13.6 per cent to 238.3 billion yuan (about HK$233.3 billion) last year, local media reported yesterday.
The result marks a slight improvement on the city's 1999 GDP growth of 13.3 per cent, and is in keeping with a nationwide trend of rebounding growth rates.
Last week Guangdong reported that its GDP grew 10.5 per cent to 950.6 billion yuan last year, ending six years of declining growth rates.
Similarly, China's rate of economic growth increased last year for the first time in seven years, reaching 8 per cent against a 1999 figure of 7 per cent.
The Guangzhou municipal government has yet to release details on the city's economic performance for last year.
The release of its headline GDP growth figure was timed to coincide with the start of an economic planning meeting, which would confirm Guangzhou's economic targets this year and the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2005).
While Guangzhou's short-term economic targets are modest - it is predicting moderate economic growth to 13.3 per cent this year - its five-year targets are ambitious.
If met, they will transform Guangzhou and enhance the already dominant role the city plays in Guangdong's economy.
Though home to less than 10 per cent of Guangdong's population, Guangzhou accounts for one-quarter of provincial GDP.
Guangzhou's Tenth Five-Year Plan calls for a doubling of municipal GDP to 480 billion yuan by 2005.
The city also expects its per capita GDP to double over the same period, reaching US$7,590.
In 1999 - the last year for which statistics are available - Guangzhou's per capita GDP was US$3,663, second only to Shanghai's (US$3,711) among mainland cities.
But even after the anticipated rise in per capita GDP, Guangzhou expects the gap between urban and rural residents will still be considerable. By 2005 the city predicts the average annual income of its urban residents will reach 22,600 yuan, compared with 9,400 yuan for rural residents.
The latter account for about 35 per cent of the city's official population.
The growing urban-rural divide is also a problem for Guangdong province. Last week the head of the Guangdong Statistical Bureau said the net income of the province's rural residents increased only 0.7 per cent last year to 3,654 yuan.
As a result, the gap between urban and rural incomes increased from 2.5:1 in 1999 to 2.7:1 last year.
Guangzhou's official population is expected to grow moderately over the next five years, from 6.8 million at present to 7.7 million - a 13 per cent increase. But the city also estimates its migrant population will rise to 3.6 million, bringing Guangzhou's true population figure to 11.3 million.
Guangzhou's admission that migrants could account for more than one-third of its total population by 2005 acknowledges the vital role they play in the local economy.
Guangzhou's physical infrastructure will also changes this year, with fixed asset investment reaching 98.7 billion yuan. Over the next five years 54.1 billion yuan will be invested in 14 key projects including a new subway line and an airport.