Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu on the Silk Road, has won approval from Beijing to introduce foreign banks, retailers and trading companies on a trial basis. Gansu provincial government vice-secretary general Su Zhixi said the central government gave the approval to Lanzhou city earlier this year. It was the only city in central and western China to receive such special approval to open to the foreign tertiary sector, he said. China has highlighted support for the economic development of the central and western region of the country in a drive to narrow the wealth gap between it and the developed coastal and southern regions. 'As a trial basis, each sector may be allowed one to two ventures and all applications have to be submitted to the central government for individual approval,' Mr Su said. Central government policy for the central and western region means that foreign investors, once approved, can set up banks and insurance companies, retail projects, foreign trade companies and other projects under state control. Mr Su said foreign banks and retailers had expressed interest but no agreements had been reached. Other central government support includes Beijing's commitment to allocate 60 per cent of the total loans provided by foreign governments to the central and western region. Provincial Planning Commission vice-director Shao Kewen said the central government had promised to provide more financial support for the region on a project basis. 'Beijing promises to allocate or invest more capital in Gansu if the projects are good,' he said.