west China is growing at a faster rate than the east. The trend is
set to continue over the next few years. This is good news for
China as the country gears up to shrink the economic divide between
eastern and western regions.
The boom in west
China is owed to unprecedented development opportunities. Since the
country launched the Western Development Strategy in 2000, the
western region has been offered many favorable policies and
financial support. In 2001, China joined the WTO and further opened
up to the outside world, which has also brought significant
benefits to the west. In addition, advantages in resources and the
catch-up effect paved the way for west China to take off.
But we have to
admit the western region remains less developed and accounts for
most of China's poverty-stricken population. Education, medical
care, social welfare and the livelihoods of residents in west China
lag behind its eastern counterpart, and improvement in those areas
still requires more vigorous efforts.
While it seeks
rapid economic expansion, the western region must focus on the
quality of the growth. It is imperative for west China to learn
from the experiences of the east, and embark on a more sustainable
path of development. To achieve that, west China has to deal
properly with many challenges.
It must improve
policies to receive industries transferred from abroad and the
eastern region. Experience from east China can provide clues as to
how best to do this. In the past, the eastern region blindly
attracted investments, which buoyed the economy, but also imposed a
heavy toll on the environment. Now the eastern region has to make
painful efforts to restructure the economy toward a greener
in west China need to adjust their functions, allow the markets to
play a bigger role in promoting economic development, and foster
free and fair competition for businesses. In this regard, local
governments still have a long way to go before catching up with
their eastern counterparts.
need to be improved. Over the next five years, west China will
continue facing pressures of limited productivity and the
residents' growing needs for better lives. The only solution is to
beef up development. But the past outdated development model would
surely cause huge economic losses and environmental damages. As a
result, the only way out is to adhere to the sustainable and
balanced road of development.
needs to be protected. The western region is the origin of most of
China's large rivers and home to many forests, grasslands, wetlands
and lakes. Around 80 percent of China's soil and water loss and
grassland degradation happens in the west. If we fail to protect
the environment of west China, it will cast an ominous shadow over
economic prospect of the whole country.
If all those
problems are properly addressed, the economy of west China will
grow even faster and better. We are confident west China has a