Province on the way to more balanced development
In a bid to balance the economic growth in different regions and create advantages for future development, Guangdong province, in south China, has been accelerating the development of its infrastructure, a key element of which is investment in new expressways.
According to a plan on the development of major infrastructure the provincial government released earlier this year, Guangdong plans to have about 6,800 kilometers of expressways by 2015 linking all the counties in the province. The target for 2017 is a total length of 8,000 km.
The expressways will boost development in the eastern, western and northern parts of the province, where the economy still lags behind the Pearl River Delta region, and will also link Guangdong with neighboring Fujian, Hunan, Jiangxi and Hainan provinces, as well as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
The province plans to invest 722.6 billion yuan ($ 119 billion) in 69 expressway projects from 2013 to 2017, and it plans to double the number of expressways to its neighboring provinces to 24 from the current 12 by 2017, according to a recent report on the local newspaper Nanfang Daily.
Top provincial officials hope the infrastructure projects will endow Guangdong with new advantages for future development and help the less-developed parts of the province catch up so there is more balanced economic growth.
At a conference on major infrastructure development projects in Guangdong earlier this year, Hu Chunhua, Party chief of the province, said that accelerating infrastructure development, especially traffic facilities, is very significant for Guangdong.
“Guangdong needs to make greater progress to fortify its leading position in China,” he said. “Stepping up infrastructure development, particularly transport, is a must so as to gain
Stepping up infrastructure development, particularly transport, is a must so as to gain new development advantages.” HU CHUNHUA PARTY CHIEF OF GUANGDONG
new development advantages.”
Yao Li, a scholar on modern development strategy at Guangdong’s academy of social sciences, holds a similar view.
“Compared with its booming economy, traffic infrastructure in many regions in Guangdong still has much room for improvement, especially expressways linking it with the neighboring provinces,” Yao said.
“Improved traffic infrastructure will at least make it more convenient for the province to get raw materials from elsewhere and transport finished products to other markets,” he said.
According to Zhi Wenbo, an official in an industrial park in Yingde in north Guangdong’s Qingyuan city, the lack of an expressway has hampered local economic development.
“People here have waited just too long for an expressway. We all hope the Guangzhou-Lechang Expressway now under construction — which will pass Yingde — will be put into operation as soon as possible.”
Guangdong plans to carry out 607 key infrastructure projects in the 12th Five-Year Plan period (201115), with a total investment of 3.51 trillion yuan. Among these, a total of 460 projects with combined investment of 1.41 trillion yuan are being built between 2013 and 2015.
They include expressways, railways, intercity light rails, subways, airports, sea and river ports, urban facilities, as well as projects relating to energy supply, water conservancy and environmental protection.
Guangdong will have about 6,800 kilometers of expressways by 2015, according to its infrastructure development plan.