BEIJING Aug 19 China has announced fresh policy
measures to support the lagging northeastern region, including
quickening infrastructure investment and opening up state firms
to private investment.
Premier Li Keqiang has already pledged to provide more
support for the northeast region, which is made up of the
provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang.
The government will speed up the construction of railways,
highways, airports, power grids and water conservation, as well
as spend more on shanty town renovation, according to a guidance
issued by the cabinet on the central government website,
Private investors will be encouraged to participate in
infrastructure projects through public-private partnership (PPP)
deals, and privately owned banks will be allowed to set up in
the region, the cabinet guidance stated.
Private investment will be allowed into state-owned firms
when they restructure and state firms will use part of returns
from their share transfer and asset operations to pay for "the
necessary cost of reform", it added without elaborating.
Known as China's rustbelt, the northeast was plagued by
widespread layoffs in the 1990s, when the government forced
state factories to shut en masse to cull inefficient industry.
The region enjoyed an economic boom in the past decade due
to Beijing's supportive policy and increased demand for raw
materials and machinery products, but the revival wobbled this
year as China's growth grinds towards a 24-year low.
The region faces new challenges "as the rate of economic
growth has continued to drop since last year and some industries
have production difficulties," the cabinet said.
The government will encourage the region to embrace
technological innovations, supporting new industries, such as
robots, gas turbines and high-end marine engineering equipment.
The region will step up trade and energy cooperation with
Russia, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea, it said.
Of China's 31 provinces and regions, the three northeastern
provinces were among the six with the weakest economic growth.
Liaoning's economy grew 7.2 percent in the first six months,
below the national average of 7.4 percent. Jilin's economy
expanded 6.8 percent, and a Heilongjiang official said the
province was the worst performer in all of China, with growth
likely to be under 5 percent.
(Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Kim Coghill)