Boom regions told to target infrastructure
BOOMING Guangdong and Fujian should give priority to improving their roads and power supply, according to a Hongkong academic.
Professor Yeung Yue-man, director of the Hongkong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University of Hongkong, told a seminar yesterday that infrastructure developments in China, particularly in the Pearl River delta, required the co-operation of Hongkong, Macau and China.
He said an economic growth rate that outstripped the pace of infrastructure development brought fundamental problems.
''Southern China stands in the forefront of China's economic development, with Guangdong and Fujian as spearheads due to their respective proximity to Hongkong and Taiwan,'' Professor Yeung said.
He said the railways in the west of Guangdong were better than in the east, while Fujian's network was incomplete.
Professor Yeung said Guangdong and Fujian planned a highway between the two provinces, and the Beijing-Guangzhou railway was scheduled to open in 1995.
Guangdong had given particular weight to developing new highways, with about seven planned or being built.
''The US$200 million investment in the 280-kilometre highway joining Fuzhou to Xiamen, in Fujian, by a Japanese firm is viewed as a major breakthrough in the development of road transport there,'' said Professor Yeung.
''When completed, the five-to six-hour drive will be reduced to only 11/2 hours.'' Professor Yeung said the provinces' inadequate power supply was also a problem.
''Taking the Pearl River delta area as an example, the existing power plants and facilities can only supply about 60 per cent of the demand,'' he said.
Existing power plants include those in Shajiao and Conghua.
The Daya Bay nuclear plant is scheduled to start generating later this year.
Professor Yeung said a site had been secured for another power plant in Guangdong, which was expected to go on line by the year 2000.
Although there are a number of power plants being built in Guangdong, Professor Yeung said the province was still some way from being able to meet demand.
But he said the fact that there were several potential sources of finance for infrastructure projects meant the situation could improve swiftly.
Sources of finance included the central government, provincial and municipal governments, international banks and bond issues.
''Local district governments are now given the autonomy to carry out infrastructure programmes in their districts by themselves and with their own resources,'' he said.
Professor Yeung said this enabled China to take a flexible approach to developing infrastructure, which required huge capital investment.
He said co-operation between China and Hongkong and Macau could create its own problems, although the advantages were obvious.
''With so many cities demanding their own ports and airports . . . on the back of investment from different Hongkong parties, the development of a centralised and planned infrastructure programme for Guangdong and Fujian will be difficult.
,'' he said.