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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yunnan Special: Kunming financial center to further boost trade
12 October 2010
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

Source :

Construction of a regional financial service center in Kunming will boost Yunnan's economic development and opening up to neighboring countries, said local experts.

An important trade region, Yunnan province was China's first to pioneer cross-border renminbi settlement in 2004.

The Kunming financial center is part of Yunnan's "gateway strategy," which aims to facilitate trade with South and Southeast Asian nations.

A number of facilities have already been completed or are under construction. They are expected to offer a shortcut for commodity flow between China and Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and the Indian Ocean and other regions.

A three-phase plan

The Kunming financial center will be completed in three phases, said Hu Liequ, chief expert at Yunnan Foreign Financial Cooperation Research Center and professor at Yunnan University of Finance and Economics.

He explained that short-term goals concentrate on constructing the center by 2015.

Mid-term aims are to make Kunming a financial hub oriented to the Great Mekong Subregion, while long-term ambitions are to build the city into a pan-Asia financial service center.

"Building the Kunming financial center will be a breakthrough in establishing the strong financial support system in Yunnan that is critical to its gateway strategy," Hu said.

The move is also expected to boost regional cooperative programs such as the Great Mekong Sub-region and China-ASEAN free trade area.

Tourism, settlement

According to Chen Lijun, head of the Research Institute of South Asia at Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, the new financial center will positively impact border tourism and trade, catering to the demands of both individuals and enterprises.

Renminbi is now the favored currency in border trades with countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos. It is popular for its convenience, and ability to lower trade costs and risks.

In the first three seasons of 2009, Yunnan received over 93 million tourists. Foreign visitors surpassed 2 million, up 15.6 percent from the previous year.

It is estimated that by 2015, Yunnan will receive 200 million visitors annually from home and broad, and generate 130 billion yuan in revenue due to Kunming's financial center.

Chen added that using cross-border renminbi settlement would also boost the internationalization of Chinese currency.

A positive impact

As early as 1994, a Yunnan Agriculture Bank of China branch signed a cross-border settlement contract with the Agriculture Bank of Vietnam.

Now, renminbi accounts for more than 90 percent of all cross-border settlements in Yunnan, replacing US dollars in the region.

Enlarging renminbi settlement pilot areas would strengthen China's status and impact in the global market, said Zhou Zhenhai, director of the Kunming branch of the People's Bank of China.

He added increased renminbi settlement would also boost foreign trade, increase stabilization of border regions, lower the growth rate of foreign exchange reserves and improve Yunnan's financial service standards.

125,281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yunnan planning to stay green while developing
4 March 2011
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

KUNMING - While the country is slowing its high-cost economic growth, Yunnan, a green jewel on China's southwest frontier, is seeking a unique path of development that is efficient and environmentally friendly.

Yunnan was nominated by the National Development and Reform Commission as one of the five pilot provinces to test China's promise to build a greener economy. The selected provinces were asked to build low-carbon features into their 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for both the industrial sector and consumption patterns.

Qin Guangrong, governor of Yunnan province, believes the policy provides a well-timed strategic opportunity for Yunnan's future development.

"We've insisted on establishing Yunnan as an ecologically-oriented province, and trying to achieve maximum economic and social benefits with minimum resource consumption," Qin told China Daily.

"Sometimes, we'd rather sacrifice a little economic growth for a better environment.

"Yunnan has one of the best-protected environments in China. It functions as a vital defense for our nation's ecosystem. We treasure it as much as our eyes."

Qin highlighted the protection of water resources, species diversity and forest coverage.

A total of 152 nature reserves occupy 7 percent of Yunnan's area, while 70 percent of its waters are suitable for drinking, swimming and fishing. With half of its land forested, Yunnan is believed to have bred 50 percent of all species in China.

"Meanwhile we're in the upper reaches of some major international rivers, and are responsible for the region's ecological safety," Qin added.

Yunnan's gross domestic product per capita in 2010 was reportedly 15,000 yuan ($2,280), slightly more than half of the national average.

According to Qin, the province is hoping to double that figure by the end of 2015, with at least 10 percent year-on-year growth, while increasing the urbanization rate to 45 percent. Facing the dichotomy of protection and development, Qin stressed that the key is to carry out a sustainable strategy while eliminating unbalanced development in some areas.

"While continuing to hammer at energy saving and emission reduction, we will vigorously explore solar and biomass energy," Qin said, adding that the construction of photovoltaic power stations and biomass raw material bases are already in preparation.

To supply technical support for these projects, Qin has called for enhancing the province's ability to innovate, and asked companies to double their proportion of research and development in the next five years.

Tourism, as the greenest industry, is also on Yunnan's economy-boosting list. The number of tourists arriving over the next five years is expected to double to 250 million, with revenue of 200 billion yuan ($30 billion).

In response to the lagging development in ethnic communities, Qin revealed that 56 billion yuan will be spent to improve conditions for the ethnic groups, who make up one-third of the province's 45 million population. Traffic construction and application of clean energy are among the key projects on schedule.

"The last 10 years have been dramatic for Yunnan, as we've benefited from the Western Development strategy and more changes are yet to come in the next five years," Qin said. "But one thing will remain - we'll still have clear water and blue sky."

125,281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Work to start on Asean rail links
24 April 2011

Construction of high-speed railways linking southwestern China and Asean countries is set to commence tomorrow, to make possible a 10-hour, 3,900-kilometre trip between Kunming and Singapore in the future, state media reported.

Analysts said the railways would boost China's integration and influence with Southeast Asian countries.

China National Radio said the new railways will link Kunming of Yunan province with Vientiane, capital of Laos. Under a pan-Asian high-speed railways plan, the line will later extend to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, it reported.

Wang Mengshu, a deputy chief engineer with China Railway Tunnel Group, was quoted by 21st Century Business Herald as saying that, besides the line with Southeast Asia, China is planning two other high-speed railway links, to central Asia and Russia.

Talks of building these lines are still under negotiation and it was hoped the networks would be completed by 2025, Wang said. He added that complex terrain may restrict the speed in some parts to below the 200 km/h standard.

However, the Herald quoted officials at Laos' embassy in Beijing as saying that construction work on the section through their country may be deferred because of amendments to the co-operation agreement between China and Laos.

The proposed high-speed rail link will integrate Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members with China and spread prosperity from the wealthier to the less developed Asean nations, according to researchers in Southeast Asian affairs.

They say it will boost economic activity, especially tourism, which will be an effective way of promoting intra-Asean plus China economic activity. A high-speed railway will have greater economic and social impact on the region than air travel because trains stop at several places, while air travel connects only two cities.

The proposed high-speed link pushed by China bypasses Vietnam, which is planning its own 1,570-kilometre high-speed link between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam will adopt Japanese technology for its project, which will cost US$55 billion and take 10 to 15 years to build.

125,281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Turning Kunming into a regional hub
By Zhang Zhao (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-07-05 08:00

Business opportunities and market expansion in cross-border trade area

A second conference on innovative approaches to business between China and Southeast Asian nations took place this weekend in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, in a search for mutual benefits to be gained from cooperation.

There were around 200 delegates taking part in this second China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Industrial Cooperation Conference (CAICC), on July 3.

The theme was "CAFTA - the industrial interconnection" and the purpose was to discuss market expansion and business opportunities in the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA).

One immediate result of the conference was that some trade associations from ASEAN member countries opened offices in Kunming.

Delegates included representatives of the Chinese and Southeast Asian nations' governments, as well as foreign ambassadors, executives of commercial associations, and leading entrepreneurs.

The conference is organized by the China-ASEAN Business Council (CABC), the government of Kunming, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade's International Relations Department.

Closer business ties between China and Southeast Asian nations are "very important and needed badly", said Xu Ningning, deputy secretary-general of the CABC, who is also China's top expert on ASEAN business affairs.

"We see it as the key to mutually beneficial results in the free trade area," Xu explained.


"The business partnership between China and ASEAN is a systematic approach," Xu went on to explain.

"It requires a joint effort by local governments, trade associations and companies and we need a long-term industrial restructuring plan."

Industrial cooperation between China and ASEAN is wide-ranging and includes business information exchanges, greater market access, trade negotiations, training programs, exhibitions, and visits by businesspeople from both regions.

Xu has advocated closer business ties with the Southeast Asian nations for almost a decade and has written many articles pushing the idea.

He said he believes that China-ASEAN business cooperation should be based on a principle of negotiation and innovation that involves mutual benefits and profits.

More than 20 of China's industrial associations had strategic partnerships with the Chinese secretariat of CABC by the end of June.

The first Industrial Cooperation Conference took place in Kunming last September.

At that time, Wan Jifei, chairman of the China International Trade Promotion Committee, suggested that China and ASEAN try to develop new cooperation plans immediately for associations from both regions.

He also called for expanding the areas and forms of cooperation, and improved systems for it.

CAICC, as part of China-ASEAN cooperation idea and the first formal business meeting under CAFTA's aegis, has an important role in helping operations in both regions, said Wan.
Regional hub

The conference's host city is a regional transportation and trade hub, with good access to cross-border trade, as well as China-ASEAN exchanges.

CAFTA was set up on January 1, 2010, and Kunming's trade with ASEAN members was worth $2.24 billion last year, an increase of 51.3 percent from 2009.

In the first five months of this year, it reached $1.22 billion, an increase of 61.6 percent from the same last year period.

The city had six overseas investment projects in 2010, with an agreed capital of more than $70 million. The areas involved include mining, trade center construction work, manufacturing, agriculture, and rubber trees.

According to Zhang Zulin, the mayor of Kunming, the city is now an important part of Yunnan's "gateway strategy" as a regional hub with stronger industries, a better environment, and more trade and investment with ASEAN.

125,281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Market draws wholesalers by the thousands
Updated: 2011-09-30 08:25
China Daily

KUNMING -Development continues on a mammoth market center in Southwest China's Yunnan province though it is already one of the nation's largest distributing centers of small commodities.

The Luosiwan International Trading Center, which occupies 800 hectares in Kunming, the provincial capital, has completed its first and second stages of construction, and the third stage is under way.

"Since the first construction stage ended in December 2009, our trading center has attracted 17,000 small-commodities wholesalers and has achieved an annual trading volume of 40 billion yuan ($6.25 billion)," said Xue Jin'gen, deputy general manager of the Yunnan Zhonghao Real Estate Co Ltd, the developer of the trading center.

"With the addition of the 15,000 wholesalers who just started business in September, we expect to increase the overall trade volume by 50 percent this year," Xue said.

Venders are selling more than 2,000 kinds of small commodities - such as clothing, plastic ware and ornaments - in the five-story labyrinthine shopping center.

Market draws wholesalers by the thousands

"My toy export business was based in Fujian before I came to Yunnan in 2008. One of the most obvious advantages of this site is that it never has a slow season," said Lang Chang'an, a toy trader in the market.

"For example, April is considered a slow month for the domestic toy market, but it happens to be the Songkran Festival, so I can sell dozens of water pistols," he said.

Long buys toys from plants in the southeast coastal areas and sells them to foreign traders in the Luosiwan market, which he says "offers a better chance to attracting foreign guests".

The trading center has 300,000 visitors a day, about 30 percent of them from foreign countries, according to its management office.

"The major cross-border traders are from Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Even Dubai wholesalers would prefer trading here to centers in Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, because it's only a four-hour flight to Kunming from Dubai, approximately one-third the time to Shanghai," said Xue.

Xue was born and raised in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, which for decades was known as the largest manufacturing and distributing center of small commodities in the country.

Xue said they have introduced development methods from Yiyu in the trading center, but simultaneously are trying to improve on them.

In mid-September, media reported that shoddy cotton produced in Yiwu was sold to new college students in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

"That's not likely happen in our market, because we have stricter market supervision," Xue said. "If we find any fake goods at a store, we'll shut it immediately."

"The goods here are as good as those I saw when I traveled to Thailand, but the price is a little higher than there," Souphauady, a Vietnamese consumer, said in a shop selling Thai goods in the trading center.

"I come here with a friend to find some ornaments to decorate his hotel, and what attracts us most is the quality of the products here."

According to Lu Li, the shop owner, many clients from South China and Southeast Asian countries like Thailand elements in their interior decoration.

"The store is more like a showroom, because some customers prefer seeing the product with their own eyes before placing an order," Lu said.

125,281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Rail dream still on track to unite continents
Updated: 2011-10-12 07:56
China Daily

Major problems remain but ambitious network hopes to link Asia to Europe, Alfred Romann reports from Hong Kong.

Creative locals use "bamboo trains" to travel along Cambodia's abandoned railway lines. These homemade vehicles ferry food and people and are powered by adapted water pumps. Technology at its most basic but Cambodia's railways could yet be part of an ambitious network linking Asia to Europe.

In 2009, the Asian Development Bank provided $84 million to rebuild Cambodia's 600-km railway network. The whole project should cost $141 million and is due for completion by 2013.

Cambodia's railways are among several missing links in the Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) project, an 117,000-km rail network, 10,500 km of which has yet to be built. Rehabilitating Cambodia's rail network is integral to the project that would link Singapore to Kunming, and beyond to Central Asia and, eventually, to Turkey and mainland Europe.

Envisioned in the 1960s, TAR would ultimately link the fragmented national railways in 28 countries into a unified transportation system.

"The completion of the missing links in the network and its efficient operations are key to the region's economic integration," according to Pierre Chartier. He is economic affairs officer in the transport division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, which is driving the project.

The scope of this undertaking is massive. Some countries in the network have no railways to speak of; others have dilapidated ones.

Rail dream still on track to unite continents

Making connections

Chinese investment in domestic and foreign projects is driving forward the development of TAR, but more than money is required. Missing links between countries have to be filled and infrastructure built to overcome significant technical differences before a single, unified rail system can run smoothly across the continent. For instance, the width of tracks and, in turn, the axles of trains often vary from country to country.

"Financing and building railway infrastructure is easy. The challenge is integrating the Greater Mekong Subregion railways, which developed in splendid isolation from each other since World War II, to the point where they can operate effectively," said Peter Broch, senior transport economist at the Asian Development Bank.

"Effective cross-border rail traffic would provide medium- to long-distance land transport, thereby improving economic efficiency," Broch said. Transport and transaction costs would be reduced, and national economies could be better linked.

A 128-km link from the small city of Loc Ninh, along the Cambodian border, to Ho Chi Minh City will provide one of the missing links. It is part of a national plan Vietnam developed in 2002 to rehabilitate and turn Vietnam Railways into a corporation. Once that bit of the system is laid out and operational, it will be up to Cambodia to link it up with the wider transnational network.

Sizable economic zone

There are myriad options to overcoming technical hurdles such as varying rail gauges, the distance between rails, but all of these have problems of their own and would interrupt the smooth flow of traffic. The upshot is that despite tens of thousands of kilometers of track already laid, the original goal of a seamless network remains elusive.

There is, however, much merit in the idea of a continental rail network. For one, there are a dozen landlocked countries in Central Asia.

Southeast Asia, the area from southwest China to Singapore, could particularly benefit. An integrated railway would be another step toward "creating a large, reasonably homogenous market" similar in size to the European Union, Broch said.

The UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, forerunner of Chartier's agency, floated the idea of TAR in the 1960s to provide a 14,080-km rail link between Singapore and Istanbul. Over the following decades, countries moved forward railway projects and sometimes linked them, but coordination was limited.

Nevertheless, by 2001 TAR evolved to the point that four clear corridors had been developed and studied:

The Northern Corridor links Europe and the Pacific Ocean through Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.

The Southern Corridor goes from Turkey to Thailand through Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand, and includes links to China, Malaysia and Singapore.

The North-South Corridor would link Northern Europe to the Persian Gulf.

The Southeast Asian Corridor would link Kunming to Singapore.

In November 2006, 18 countries signed the Trans-Asian Railway Network Agreement, which covered some 81,000 km of railways. By the time the agreement took effect, in June 2009, a further 11 countries signed up and the network swelled to 117,000 km. Since then, 16 countries have officially ratified or accepted the deal.

"The development of the Trans-Asian Railway is not time-bound. It is evolutionary by nature and in this respect follows policy options of governments as well as the worldwide economic environment," the UN commission's Chartier said.

Mekong focus

Despite official commitment and national railway development, progress has been spotty. The Northern Corridor across China and Russia has operated for decades, linking China with Europe. In Southeast Asia, however, things have moved at a slower pace.

Last October, Chartier noted a lot of missing links. There are no actual rail connections between China and Laos or China and Myanmar. Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia are not linked; neither are Cambodia with Vietnam, or Vietnam with Laos.

Over the next few years, much of the building activity will be focused in this region, in particular the Mekong subregion.

Surprisingly, the financial crisis of 2008 sped up the network's development, unlike the 1997 crisis when many governments abandoned projects. Collaboration among China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand demonstrates what Chartier called "the mobilization of governments on projects with multilateral dimensions".

China is a big driver behind much of the building. Not only is the government making massive investments in its own railways, but it is also financing those in other countries. It is likely to provide up to 70 percent of the investment in the link that will go through Laos.

While TAR is an overarching agreement, regional and bilateral deals are pushing the actual construction. One such agreement among the six countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion should lead to further railway integration. China has also signed a deal for the Kunming-Singapore link.

Malaysia started building its own section of TAR in 1995. In March 2009, Thailand and Laos launched a rail link.

Closing gaps

Despite the progress, holes remain.

One is in Myanmar. At the end of May, Chinese workers and engineers started work on a line that would link Kunming to the Myanmar border, but then there is a 160-km gap on the Myanmar side. Also, the two lines operate on different gauges.

In Vietnam, China Railway Construction workers are expected to complete the link between Loc Ninh and Ho Chi Minh City by 2013.

In Cambodia, serious train travel restarted a year ago, when the first stretch of rail between Phnom Penh and Touk Meas opened. The 254-km line from Phnom Penh to the port of Sihanoukville opened this year. Other work continues.

After decades of bamboo trains, a functioning railway network is beginning to emerge, linking Cambodia to the rest of Asia and much of the world.


125,281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Three workers stage a protest on the edge of a crane after their salary was not paid for work on a construction site in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province, Dec 8, 2011. Four workers climbed the crane and disrupted its operation to demand their unpaid salaries from July this year. The employer agreed to pay 70 percent of the wages and hand over the remaining 30 percent in December. [Photo/CFP]

125,281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
International flair at Kunming Crowne Plaza
Updated: 2011-12-17 08:24
China Daily

International travelers to Southwest China now have a compelling choice for their leisure stay at the renovated Crowne Plaza City Center Kunming in the downtown area of Yunnan province's capital city.

Originally named the Bank Hotel, it first opened for the 1999 World Horticulture Exposition in Kunming and 20 months ago became part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, operator of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands. Its clientele is mostly from Southeast Asian countries, as well as China and Japan. In August, the hotel started renovations to cater to international travelers.

The hotel's general manager Jim Khoo, with more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry and extensive qualifications in hotel management, brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to the beautifully appointed 300-room property set in the heart of Kunming.

Born in Singapore, Khoo started his hospitality career in China in 1995 and joined the InterContinental Hotels Group in 2000. His previous postings in China include Qingdao, Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong and Macau, where he worked with many big international chain hotels including Shangri-La and Marriott.

His goal is to discover, learn and gain extensive experience to fulfill his aspirations. He believes in a humble attitude and celebrates the differences wherever he goes. One of the most rewarding aspects of his work is helping the staff grow in ability and empowering them to rise further in their careers.

Through the years, he has seen many of his team members reach their goals.

"Good is the enemy of great," he says. "How to be a great leader? Great leaders inspire people to have confidence in themselves. I cannot be successful without the right people in the right job."

After office hours, Khoo enjoys running, karaoke and spending time with his family.

He noted the Crowne Plaze will be the first international hotel in downtown Kunming.

"Before Kunming did not have any international hotels. These days, travelers are looking for international hotels - safety is the first factor they will consider and we have advantages in that."

After the renovation is complete, the hotel will have 304 rooms and offer customers cuisine to suit local tastes.

125,281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·

An office building of local government is demolished in directional blasting in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Dec. 25, 2011. After the directional blasting, a business center will be constructed in the area. The new office building of Kunming municipal government will be built in a new district of the city. (Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

125,281 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Xinhua Insight: China looks southwest for new growth
By Xinhua Writers Yao Yuan, Li Meng and Li Huaiyan

KUNMING, June 9 (Xinhua) -- For Sun Yunhua, the country roads of Yunnan not only take him home, but also reveal a thoroughfare toward prosperity.

After running a furniture business in Laos for many years, the Yunnan-born businessman has decided to enter the floral and tourism industries back in Yunnan, as he senses a business boom taking off in his home province in southwest China.

"China has launched a strategy to build Yunnan into a gateway for South and Southeast Asia, which will bring more favorable and open policies to the province," Sun says.

Sun's optimism is shared by 35,000 businesspeople from 31 Asian countries and regions attending the ongoing China Kunming Import & Export Fair (Kunming Fair), where they have clinched 179.1 billion U.S. dollars in contracts on investing in Yunnan's mining, energy, tourism and infrastructure sectors.

Despite the economic slowdown China is currently experiencing, Chinese and foreign entrepreneurs are eyeing new opportunities as the country has pledged to expand the opening-up of its southwestern border regions.

Although it is an area long marked by poverty, southwest China is nevertheless believed to have huge yet untapped potential. It is also geologically close to South Asia and Southeast Asia -- regions China is looking to boost trade with in order to buffer the effects of waning Western demand.

Massive infrastructure projects are currently in full swing to complete the transport and logistic networks in Yunnan, which positions itself as the "bridgehead" on the opening up of southwest China.

Construction has begun on 12 railroads connecting Yunnan with other parts of China as well as Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, and these projects are "making progress," said Li Jiming, vice head of the Commercial Department of Yunnan.

Yunnan is also building a financial center to facilitate trade between China and South and Southeast Asia. Last year, 85 percent of local companies in the import and export sector got approvals to settle their foreign trade using renminbi, or yuan, China's currency.

Favorable winds are also blowing throughout other southwestern provinces and autonomous regions, including Guangxi and Guizhou, where officials have promised favorable investment conditions.

"Guizhou has rolled out new measures on land supply, tax reduction and support services, which are all to better serve our investors," Meng Qiliang, vice governor of Guizhou, said at the fair.


Besides the need to boost the local economy, experts say the goal of sustaining rapid growth nationally is also prompting China to develop its southwest regions at a faster pace.

China's GDP growth eased to 8.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012, down from 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and marking the weakest pace in nearly three years.

With the country's urban real estate sector in the doldrums and manufacturers in eastern China distressed by surging costs and an energy crunch, analysts say the government has to look beyond the wealthy coastlines for new power engines.

Central China, with its mature infrastructure, low labor costs and a rising market, has already been designated as a hot spot for foreign investment and industrial transfers from the coastal areas.

However, in mountainous southwest China, where natural and human resources are abundant, poor infrastructure and a lack of modernization have long curbed efforts to buoy the local economy, says Wu Conghu, a researcher with the Yunnan government.

About 100 years after the first railway was built in Yunnan to link it with Vietnam, the province has rail lines in only 7 of its 16 cities and prefectures, ranking it the second-least-developed Chinese province in terms of railway connectivity, Wu says.

Its utilization of water resources and the urbanization level are also far below the national level, he adds.

But such backwardness has left huge space for development, and heavy investment in the region can benefit the economy of the entire country, says Xiao Xian, vice president of Yunnan University.

"The development of the southwest will bring access to its enormous natural resources, boost infrastructure construction and bolster a range of industries," says Wang Chongli, a researcher at the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences.

Wang said the "advantage of backwardness" also means that the southwest will rise more quickly than many have imagined.

"China has gone through 30 years of opening up and industrialization, amassing enormous experience and capital that the southwest can draw from to ensure a smoother and healthier path of development," Wang says.


At the Kunming Fair, officials and entrepreneurs from other Asian countries are also showing support for the opening up of China's southwest, through which their goods can more easily enter the Chinese market.

Myanmar Ambassador to China U Tin Oo said at a Thursday conference that infrastructure projects in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), including the Kunming-Singapore railway, would "definitely enhance cooperation among GMS countries."

"I believe that connecting Yunnan with GMS countries by strengthening and facilitating trade and investment connections will generate endless opportunities among GMS countries," says Admiral Thomrat Hatayodom, vice chairman of GMS Business Council.

Last year, China's bilateral trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) topped 362.9 billion U.S. dollars, marking a 23.9-percent rise year on year, while its trade with South Asia also increased by 20 percent year on year in 2011.

The bustling trade and complicated political situations in Asian regions have prompted China to strengthen economic ties with these countries by developing the country's southwest.

In 2010, China launched the Bridgehead Strategy to build Yunnan, which borders Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, into a social and economic corridor toward South Asia and Southeast Asia.

But unlike eastern China, where the economy relies on investment and demand from the Western world, experts say China's southwest must "go out" and lift its neighbors to affluence before its own economy can take off.

To this end, China must encourage its companies to invest in these Asian countries, increase imports from them and take the lead in building shared infrastructure, such as cross-border railways, experts say.

"What the southwest mainly opens up to are the less-developed countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and China can not perfect itself while leaving its trade partners behind," Wang Chongli says.

The Explorer
5,130 Posts
^^ The Greater Mekong River economic area? That's awesome! :cheers:

I think this is the next economic engine Asia and world to watch out for...
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