Developing the West

China's western region includes 10 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions: Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Xinjing, Sichuan, Chongqing, Yunnan, Guizhou, and Xizang. The region covers 5.38 million square kilometres, nearly two-third of the country's land area, and has a population of 287 million, 22.8% of the national total.

Natural resources in the western region are very rich. In particular, energy (including water energy), tourism and land resources are of great advantages. The western region is contiguous to more than 10 countries with land borders extending over a distance of 3500 kilometres. It is regarded as the second "Golden Belt" of the opening-up. In 2000, China kicked off its massive western development projects. The government grants favourable policies for the region in financial investment, investment environment, opening-up to the domestic and overseas business, science and education development, and personnel attraction. Since 2002, ten key projects have been launched in the western region with a total investment of about RMB1000 billion ($121.95 billion).

The Chinese government is making a overall plan for the western region development (including the Inner Mongolia and Guangxi). A series of preferential policies are being made to encourage foreign investment in these regions. For instance, foreign enterprises in the mid-western region can enjoy the reduction of enterprise tax by 15% for three years. The export enterprise can also enjoy further reduction with the lowest tax rate of 10%. In the meantime, the western region enjoys the same administrative power with the coastal area to approve the foreign investment projects under $30 million. The western region is emerging as a new star of opening-up and a first choice for foreign investment.