CHINA has decided to freeze the opening of new development zones because government coffers cannot afford it. Vice-premier Mr Zhu Rongji said it would take at least six years for the present 6,000 development zones to be implemented, even if all the annual government expenditure on infrastructure were spent on them. ''The Government expenditure on infrastructure is about 700 billion yuan [HK$942.9 billion] a year,'' he said. ''Even if we spend it all on the zones, it will take six years for the completion of the development zones. Don't we have other things to do?'' Mr Zhu said during an inspection tour in Guangxi that the nationwide craze for the opening of development zones must be cooled down. He estimated that more than 1.6 million hectares of land were allocated for development zones last year. For every square kilometre of development zone, the Government has to spend at least 100 million yuan plus another 200 million yuan from banks and the private sector for infrastructure, he said. Mr Zhu warned that the opening of development zones had affected agricultural development with more farmland being turned to other uses.