Northeast Asia Cooperation Forum Promotes Regional Development
By Andy Scott
CHANGCHUN, Sept. 4 – The 5th Northeast Asia Investment and Trade Expo opened on Tuesday in Changchun, the capital of Jilin Province. The six-day event focuses on strengthening regional cooperation and finding opportunities and challenges to coping with the global financial crisis.
Despite the global downturn, Chen Weigen, the vice governor of Jilin Province was hopeful for this year’s expo. “We believe that more cooperative agreements will be reached at this year’s event than at previous ones,” he said.
Opening the expo, Vice Premier Li Keqiang asserted that China’s economic policies would remains “consistent” and “stable” as the country continued its recovery. The government, he said, would continue to stimulate consumer spending and maintain economic restructuring to facilitate increased foreign investment and boost domestic demand.
Northeast China is the country’s historic industrial base and the key to revitalizing the region, many feel, lies in expanding regional cooperation and development to include Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Russia.
Jilin Province, which borders North Korea and is home to many large automobile manufacturers, has seen its revitalization strategies begin to pay off, with economic growth of over 15 percent over the last three years. “We are actively coping with the impact of the international financial crisis and continue to maintain steady and fast economic growth,” Han Changfu, the governor of Jilin Province said in a speech at the forum. “Our GDP increased 11.7 percent in the first half of this year.”
Han also noted that the government-planned development of the Changchun-Jilin-Tumen River Development Area has been incorporated into pilot zones and the Chinese Tumen River regional cooperate development plan is proceeding.
The 521 kilometer-long Tumen River acts as a boundary between parts of Northeast China, North Korea and Russia, The area is a crossroads for vital trade routes and rich in gas, oil and minerals. The development of this region is seen as a major initiative for both the governments involved as well as the United Nations Development Program.
With the help of the UNDP-supported Greater Tumen Initiative, the region hopes to expand inter-governmental dialogue, strengthen the business environment and streamline communication lines. This should allow for development of infrastructure and increased foreign and domestic investment in the area.
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