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Jilin in talks to use ports in North Korea, Russia

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 November, 2009, 12:00am

Jilin, the landlocked and struggling northeastern province, is in talks to use ports in neighbouring North Korea and Russia to ship goods to overseas markets in an effort to develop its economy.

Provincial governor Han Changfu said the scheme was a necessary step for the development of the Changchun-Jilin-Tumen economic development zone, called the Tumen River Area.

The State Council recently approved a plan to set up the zone in the eastern part of Jilin to encourage cross-border trade with North Korea and Russia and attract investment from Japan and South Korea in the northeast Asia region.

The cabinet said the Tumen River Area was significant to the mainland's long-term, broader opening-up strategy, adding that accelerating development of the area was another big step in opening up the country's coastal regions.

'We are negotiating with North Korea and Russia to explore co-operation in the development of the Tumen River Area,' Han said in Beijing yesterday.

The mainland already uses some ports in North Korea and Russia's far-east region to handle trade for its northeastern provinces.

Han said the zone would become an important portal connecting China and northeastern Asian countries, including Japan, South Korea and Mongolia, eventually becoming an economic powerhouse.

He rejected concerns that instability in North Korea could affect the prospects of the new development zone.

'The border areas are stable, and people-to-people exchanges are going on as normal,' he said. 'Trade between Jilin and North Korea is growing continuously, reaching US$247 million last year.'

Aside from neighbouring economies, Jilin also hoped Hong Kong could play a bigger role in the development of the area.

Han said a plan to build a Jilin-Hong Kong industrial park was still under discussion between the provincial government and the Hong Kong Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.

Last year, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen led a delegation of more than 100 to the Jilin-Hong Kong Economic and Trade Co-operation Conference, co-organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Jilin government, in the provincial capital, Changchun.

Han said the building of a three square kilometre industrial park in Hunchun would provide a platform to strengthen co-operation in the fields of vehicle parts, modern Chinese medicine, financial services, high technology and tourism.

He said Hong Kong now topped the world in terms of investment made in the province, with more than 500 Hong Kong-invested companies registered in the province.