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Fuzhou targets faster growth, better life

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2012-08-07

One of the richest agricultural bases and most culturally prosperous regions in China some 1,000 years ago, Fuzhou (抚州) in Jiangxi province found itself failing to keep pace with the nation's market-oriented economic reform over the recent decades.

The city government launched the "Happy Fuzhou" strategy last year, which comprised a series of plans targeting increased industrialization, development of the rural economy and more foreign investment and projects.

Despite the ongoing economic recession, the city's GDP reached 34.9 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) in the first six months, an increase of 10.4 percent year-on-year. The industrial added value of large-scale companies reached nearly 10 billion yuan, up 16.5 percent from a year earlier.

Apart from the change in numbers, one of the most important achievements has been that different departments of the government "have reached some common understanding about the future development path," Zhang Heping, the city's mayor, told China Daily.

As Fuzhou's industry is growing at the fastest rate among all cities in the province, its service sector, including tourism and trade, is also "rising considerably", with its share in the GDP increasing 3 percentage points in the January-June period, said Zhang.

The city's export volume hit $632.8 million, more than doubling that in the same period last year.

Fuzhou once lagged behind other coastal regions due to less advanced transportation systems, but it has now made efforts to improve infrastructure.

Four railroads and four highways are under construction, linking the city to neighboring regions. One of the railroads will be completed next year.

A power station is expected to start construction in September, which will put an end to the city's history of having no self-owned power supply source. The plant, with a generating capacity of 2,000 megawatts, will be completed in two years.

"These projects will greatly upgrade the city's infrastructure, bringing about more development potential," said the mayor.

Improving livelihood

As the local economy grows, the government is also paying more attention to improving the people's livelihood.

In the first six months, retail in the city reached 13.4 billion yuan, up 12.8 percent from a year earlier. The average cash income of rural residents grew 17.3 percent to reach 3,431 yuan.

"In the past, we tended to focus only on large-scale industrial projects," said Zhang. "But now, we care more about those projects that benefit the people directly, such as affordable houses."

However, he also noted that there are still a number of challenges that the city will face in the future development, including environmental protection, social stability, and the lack of investment and talented people.

Development zones

The government has planned an economic development zone in the urban area and nine industrial parks in the nearby counties and districts.

The mayor said that Fuzhou is enjoying "advantages in policies" to attract investment, as the city is sitting on three national strategic zones – the Poyang Lake ecological economic zone, the economic zone on the west coast of the Taiwan Straits and the former revolutionary base.

Thanks to its unique geographic position, the city is expected to receive preferential policies in land and taxation.

The city's economic zones feature a number of industries, including auto parts manufacturing, biomedicine development, textile and food processing.

A total of more than 30 billion yuan has been invested in the zones, 10 to 20 percent of which came from overseas, according to Zhang. Around 220 of all the projects under construction have an investment of more than 50 million yuan each.

A number of national leading companies are based in the zones, such as the eye drops maker Zhenshiming Co Ltd and biomedicine products maker Boya Biomedicine Co.

Xu Genliang contributes to the story

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