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Development of West China More Important: Minister

Ma Kai, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said on Saturday that the development of western China is even more important as China moves to boost regional development nationwide.

Ma made the remarks at a meeting in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, to offset suspicions that the country will pay less attention to the west since it has gone all out to develop different regional economies.

China will uphold the western development strategy and continue to support the region, Ma said, adding the development of western China concerns lasting stability and durable peace, the implementation of a scientific outlook of development and the building of a socialist harmonious society.

China launched the western development strategy in 2000 to help the relatively backward west catch up with the more prosperous east.

The strategy involves 12 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, covering 6.85 million square kilometers and with a population of about 367 million.

Thanks to the strategy, the combined GDP of western regions reached 3.33 trillion yuan in 2005, compared with 1.66 trillion yuan in 2000.

Ma said the central government will continue to support the building of infrastructure of transportation, communication and in rural areas, as 82 major projects have begun since 2000 with a total investment of 1.1 trillion yuan.

However, he warned officials of western China against pursuing economy at the cost of environment.

(Xinhua News Agency April 9, 2007)

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