No room for Hong Kong in Guangzhou's industrial focus

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 March, 2006, 12:00am

Guangzhou Mayor Zhang Guangning has highlighted the continued development of the city's Nansha district in his annual work report to the Guangzhou People's Congress - but co-operation with Hong Kong does not merit a mention.

In the report distributed ahead of the opening of the legislature today, Mr Zhang also reaffirmed heavy industry's place as a principal driver of economic development in the city.

The industries highlighted in Mr Zhang's report, including the car sector and bio-medicine, are all concentrated in the Nansha area, the southernmost part of Guangzhou.

Pearl River Delta expert Zheng Tianxiang said he could not tell why Mr Zhang did not mention Hong Kong, but noted Guangzhou's focus was on heavy industry, an economic sector that did not interest Hong Kong investors.

Lin Jiang, an economics professor at Guangzhou's Lingnan College, said it was helpful for investors to know that the city was still on track, but the government should look into advancing the car industry beyond assembly-line operations.

'If in the future Japanese carmakers find some place more suitable than Guangzhou, I wonder if they will leave anything behind. I worry that not much technology will remain,' Professor Lin said.

He also suggested that instead of trying to catch up and compete with Shanghai by building more bio-medicine factories, Guangzhou should make use of its integrated advantage and lead as a wholesale centre for pharmaceuticals.

Professor Lin said that while the government was moving the economic centre to Nansha, it should consider how the development could spill over to the rural districts and townships of Panyu , Conghua, Zengcheng and Huadu. Guangzhou has set a 12 per cent gross domestic product growth target for this year, well above the national 7 per cent goal which was set low to shift focus from output to quality growth.

Mr Zhang's report also signals the government will try to ease social tensions by allowing more civil organisations to be established and exploring ways to deal with problems at their source.

For the second successive year, the mayor stressed that social contradictions 'must be ... nipped in the bud'.

Mr Zhang said the government would 'strengthen, control and nurture' civil organisations to allow them to play a positive role in providing feedback on residents' complaints, communicating with the government and helping to resolve problems.

Professor Lin said the move 'shows that they realise the government can't solve all problems but they want to control non-governmental organisations [NGOs] first before cultivating them'.

He said: 'I feel you should first nurture before you control them.'

Professor Lin said NGOs should be given legal status under laws that made it clear what they could or could not do, so people did not fear running foul of the law when setting them up.

The government has been wary of such organisations because it fears they could be used by people with political motives to challenge its power.

The authorities have required the small number of approved non-governmental organisations to be registered with civil affairs bureaus.