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Chongqing Becoming Development Engine for Western China

Posted October. 15, 2009 08:30,   


A Dong-A Ilbo reporter visited the Chinese city of Chongqing, which is a driving force in the country’s development of its western region.

“You will see a great change next year,” a city official said. Located near the Yangtze River, the city is covered in fog for up to 150 days per year. With a population of 32 million, the city covers an area equal to about 80 percent of Korea’s.

Chongqing’s GDP grew 14 percent in the first nine months of this year, almost twice China’s average growth of 7.1 percent in the first half of the year.

○ Locomotive for developing western China

The Dong-A reporter visited an iron plate processing factory run by Korea`s largest steelmaker POSCO yesterday. Raw materials are being shipped from POSCO’s Gwangyang plant in Korea’s South Jeolla Province and travel 3,000 kilometers along the Yangtze River to reach the Chinese factory.

Plant manager Choi Joo-yeong said, “This year’s sales figure is expected to double last year’s,” adding, “We should expand the factory to meet growing demand.”

Beijing has designated Chongqing and Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, as engines of economic growth for western China. The economic development project of the cities started in 2000 seeks to develop 12 provinces and cities.

The Chinese government will invest 68.7 billion dollars to build infrastructure in such areas.

Because of this plan and its rapid growth, Chongqing is seeing fast change. Kwon Oh-cheol, president of Chongqing’s Korean-Chinese association, said, “Chongqing is the best place to do business.”

Companies can take advantage of cheap natural resources but highly skilled labor and do business targeting 130 million people in the city and vicinity. A highway spanning 1,500 kilometers and a railway of 1,000 kilometers has been opened after years of construction.

Four ports along the Yangtze River are also thriving. Located in the upper stream of the Three Gorges Dam, the ports can accommodate ships weighing 1,000 to 3,000 tons.

The number of foreign companies operating in the city has markedly increased. Hewlett-Packard set up a factory producing 20 million laptop computers per year in August in its foray into inland China and Europe.

The Korean Embassy in Beijing said Chongqing is a good place for businesses specializing in energy, IT, the environment and finance.

○ Attracting Korean companies

City officials are trying to attract more Korean companies. Chongqing Vice Mayor Huang Qifan said, “Korean companies are excellent,” adding, “I hope Korean companies will use Chongqing as a springboard to enter the consumer market in western China.”

Bo Xilai, secretary of the Chongqing chapter of the Chinese Communist Party, told Korean Ambassador to China Shin Jeong-seung Tuesday, “I hope a business complex exclusively for Korean companies will be established,” adding, “I will visit Korea, where I have many friends.”

Bo is one of several candidates vying for a seat on the commerce committee of the Chinese Communist Party. He has won fame by leading an anti-crime crusade.