|China plans faster growth in western regions|
BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The State Council, or China's Cabinet, said Monday that it has approved a plan aimed at accelerating development in the western regions through the end of 2015, a move to further narrow the country's development gap among different areas.
The development plan for western regions set development goals concerning economic growth, infrastructure construction, ecological environment, public service, and people's living standards that are much higher than that of the economically-developed coastal and eastern regions.
China's western regions include 12 provincial areas -- Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Chongqing, Shaanxi, Guizhou and Yunnan.
According to a statement issued by the State Council on its website, the economies of western regions will grow at paces faster than the national average, while residential income growth will outpace the country's average growth rate during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015).
About 15,000 km of railways will be opened in the western regions through the end of 2015, and the urban population will exceed 45 percent of the region's total, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner that made the plan.
Western regions must employ a 15-percent cut in energy use per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) from that of the end of 2010, and they should cut water consumption by 30 percent per unit of industrial output growth, according to the plan.
As a key indicator of ecological conditions, nearly one-fifth of the land in western regions should be covered by forests by the end of 2015, according to the plan.
Beginning in 2000, China launched its drive to speed up the development of western regions as the resource-rich but underdeveloped regions lagged far behind coastal and eastern regions.
The economies of western regions expanded by an average of 13.6 percent from 2006 to 2010, with 365,000 km of highways and 8,000 km of railways built during the period, according to data from the NDRC.