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Western Region Urged to Be Selective with Foreign Investment

"China's western areas should carefully evaluate the quality of potential foreign investment before making the decision to accept," said Zhou Guoxun, vice director of the Gansu Province People's Congress Environment and Resources Committee. Zhou added: "The eastern regions have been selective with the foreign investments they've accepted; the west should be, too, as important as foreign investment might be."

Gross domestic product in the eastern regions has grown rapidly in recent years, which has pushed land and labor costs up. As a result, several labor and resource intensive industries have transferred operations to the less developed western regions. Unfortunately, many of these industries are also high consumers of energy and responsible for much of the country's industrial pollution.

"Last year, there was an application to start a foreign-funded alloy steel project in Gansu. Although it was a potentially profitable project, we refused it because of the high levels of energy it would consume and the resultant pollution it would cause," Zhou said.

Echoing Zhou's remark, Ji Jinshan, a National People's Congress representative and professor at China's Southwest Financial University, indicated that high energy consuming and highly polluting enterprises set up operations in the eastern coastal areas at the beginning of the 1980s. As profitable as many of them were, the end result was and is a badly damaged environment.

(China Development Gateway by Wang Sining on March 6, 2007)

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