Shanxi seeks to offload non-performing assets to HK businesses
Shi Jiangtao in Taiyuan
Shanxi is looking to Hong Kong to help dispose of its non-performing state assets, officials from the central province said yesterday.
Governor Zhang Baoshun told a group of Hong Kong investors that Shanxi hoped to unload 1,700 state-owned enterprises with a combined value of about 13 billion yuan.
Under a plan now being scrutinised by the central government, these assets would be grouped in 12 batches and sold to interested investors.
However, one source said the central government was more likely to first give the go-ahead to similar plans by provinces such as Hubei , Jiangsu and Heilongjiang .
Mr Zhang admitted Shanxi was facing a challenge in turning its economy around because of its heavy reliance on the coal industry.
Shen Weichen , director of Shanxi's Publicity Department, said the province needed to look beyond coal mining to keep up momentum.
'Significant changes are happening in our economy,' he said. '[We] have given top priority to [developing] our cultural resources as we restructure the economy and hope that this will give our sectors a boost.
The current energy shortage has provided Shanxi with a good opportunity because the province's coal output last year amounted to a third of the national total, he said.
'But it poses some serious challenges, too. The mining industry is not sustainable and the decades-long overproduction has left the province with many serious environmental problems.'
Mr Shen said that Shanxi - which boasts some of the country's richest cultural heritage - could be developed into a 'giant theme park of Chinese civilisation'.
As part of the promotional plan for the province, Shanxi is due to host an international forum next month to advertise its cultural resources.