Jiaxing, one of the first cities in China opened to the outside world, intends to build itself into a modern port city backed by foreign trade.
Xu Liangji, deputy party secretary of the city in Zhejiang province, said Jiaxing, on the Yangtze River delta, could become a river and land transport centre in the northern part of the province.
The city is investing 800 million yuan (about HK$664 million) in the second phase of construction of Zhapu Port, a first-grade river port approved by the State Council.
When the work is completed, the port will be able to handle 30,000 to 50,000 tonne cargo vessels, including container carriers.
By 2000, 12 berths at the port will be open to vessels from across the world.
Three river courses linking Jiaxing with Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou are being cleared with funds from the World Bank.
The bank has provided loans to build expressways to Shanghai and Hangzhou.
Foreign trade is expected to surpass 10 billion yuan this year, according to mainland statistics.
Business people from Britain and Singapore as well as international silk associations are building new projects in its development zones.
The city will also boost its pillar industries of silk, machinery and electronics, chemicals, household appliances, paper and building materials.
'The industrial enterprises have formed conglomerates and have updated their operations,' Mr Xu said.
The local government has invested 80 billion yuan in infrastructure during the Eighth Five-Year plan from 1990 to 1995.
'The city greatly strengthened its economic power during those five years,' Mr Xu said.