JIANGXI officials hope that improved transportation will deflect the attention of more foreign investors from Guangdong and Fujian and focus it on their province. Deputy chief secretary of the people's government of Jiangxi province Hong Lihe said in Hong Kong yesterday that transportation from Jiangxi to Guangdong would be improved with the completion of the Beijing-Kowloon (Jingjiu) Railway and the planned completion of a 700-kilometre highway parallel to the railway by 2005. He said the 14 billion yuan (about HK$13.02 billion) highway was part of the Ninth Five-Year Plan, and the government was inviting foreign participation in the project in phases. The 80-kilometre section between Nanchang and Zhangshu would get priority and require foreign investment of more than a billion yuan. Foreign partners could participate in the project through joint ventures, co-operative ventures or foreign solely-owned ventures. The highway was expected to yield a rate of return of 20 per cent, but no guarantee could be given. The project had been agreed to in principle by Beijing but still had to be approved by the State Council. Deputy director of the provincial planning commission Hu Youtao said transportation between Jiangxi and Fujian would also be improved and this would attract more light industry. The province's low production costs were attractive to foreign investors, he said. The combined cost of labour, water and electricity in the province was a third of Guangdong's and half of Fujian's. A focus of the next five-year plan was the construction of the Nanchang airport with a 2,800-metre runway. The province obtained a billion yuan to finance the project. The province had secured funding and Beijing's approval for two power plant projects. The Jiujiang power plant would cost more than a billion yuan while the Fengcheng plant would cost four billion yuan. Mr Hu said talks with foreign investors on some power projects in China had failed because of the issue of rate of return. The state stipulated that the rate of return on power projects could not exceed 15 per cent. He said Jiangxi would benefit from the state policy of encouraging more investment in inland areas.