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Premier: Western Development Working

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Amid the world financial crisis, China will stick to its strategy to further develop the country's western regions, Premier Wen Jiabao said.

"This year is the 10th anniversary of the development of the western regions," Wen said yesterday. "The economic development of the western region has made huge strides."

He made the remarks after finishing a three-day trip to the city of Xi'an to examine employment for university graduates, summer grain production and business redevelopment.

The western development strategy, first introduced in 1999, is designed to bring about prosperity and economic balance between eastern and western China. It covers 12 western provinces including Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and Xinjiang Uygur and Tibet autonomous regions.

During a visit to Lianhu district human resources market, a university graduate told Wen that job hunting is getting easier as the economy improves.

"Employment is about people's livelihood. It is the most important thing as it affects the country's economic development and it affects peoples' futures," Wen said.

The government has made a series of policies to encourage employment since the second half of 2008, including loan and business administration for establishing new businesses, building an urban-rural service system as part of the country's infrastructure, increasing government aid for the unemployed and those with work difficulties, and supporting small- and medium-sized businesses.

Wen also encouraged students to start working from the grassroots. He pointed out the latest government employment policy is designed to subsidize graduates' living expenses.

"It's not easy for the State to bring up a university graduate. We should create opportunities for companies and institutions to span their job offers," Wen added.

Wen also visited Zhongfengdian village near Xi'an.

In a meeting with farmers, Wen told them the state has raised the price of wheat by 10 cents (1.5 US cents). He also stressed that an organized harvest, a reasonable purchase price and summer insemination of maize are important.

Wen picked up a wheat kernel and bit it, saying "it is plump. The farmers are going to have another good harvest".

The premier also visited electric, technology and car companies on his trip.

"In the face of the financial crisis, we should persist in our western region development strategy, magnify government support, balance urban and rural development, explore areas for new economic development, emphasize structural adjustment, technological renovation and improvement of people's livelihoods and raise western development to a higher level," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 8, 2009)