Expansion and growth in the Asean market was one way to solve Guangdong's 'growing pains', the province's party secretary, Wang Yang, said yesterday. Mr Wang, who is on a high-profile tour to member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, made the comment at an investment symposium in Hanoi. He admitted that although Guangdong was ahead of many mainland provinces in economic development, it had encountered many problems, which he called 'the pain of growing up'. 'Guangdong is China's No1 province in terms of economic development, but we now face some problems after years of rapid growth,' Xinhua quoted him saying. 'We call these problems 'the pain of growing up', and one very important way to deal with these problems is to actively promote overall co-operation between Guangdong and Asean countries including Vietnam,' he said. The Xinhua report said Mr Wang identified Guangdong's 'pain' as an imbalance of different sectors of the economy, a lack of innovation by its enterprises, a shortage of energy resources, environmental pollution, rising manufacturing costs and regional discrepancies within the province. To resolve these problems, he said Guangdong should grasp the opportunity if China and Asean set up a free-trade zone, which the two sides are negotiating to do. Mr Wang, known for his 'mind liberation' motto after he became Guangdong party secretary about a year ago, was hailed by western media recently for his open-mindedness, and won praise from Thomas Friedman, columnist for The New York Times, for his promotion of green energy. Xinhua said Mr Wang suggested five ways to expand trade and investment between Guangdong and Vietnam. He said the provincial government would encourage more Guangdong investors to set up plants in Vietnam in areas such as manufacturing, transport and communication. Investment in Vietnam's energy, agricultural and mining sectors would also increase. In addition, Guangdong would import more quality products from Vietnam and encourage tourists to visit Vietnam. Guangdong would also welcome more investment from Vietnam. A number of household names, such as white-goods giant Midea and telecommunications equipment leader Huawei, have set up plants in Vietnam. Midea has more than 900 local workers on its payroll in Vietnam and is planning to increase its workforce there to 5,000 in five years.