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Germany offers to assist western China with urbanization

Updated: 2014-07-07 07:08
By Qiu Bo in Chengdu and Zhou Wa in Beijing ( China Daily)

Germany offers to assist western China with urbanization

Germany offers to assist western China with urbanization

Chancellor says area must focus on long-term development

Germany is willing to help the western part of China achieve sustainable development during its ongoing urbanization, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Chengdu on Sunday.

The western region has its own unique opportunity during China's urbanization drive, Merkel said at a forum on Sunday in Chengdu, Sichuan province, which is the first leg of her seventh official China trip, which started on Sunday.

The western region doesn't have to copy models from the eastern region, she said. Instead, it should take an approach toward efficient and sustainable development that will last not just 10 or 20 years, but much longer, she said.

Merkel said that although Chengdu is an old city, "from another perspective it is young and modern" because it is going through such rapid change during urbanization.

Chengdu, with an urbanization rate of only 45 percent, will face rapid changes as it tries to accommodate an additional 1 million migrants a year.

Such change must be effectively guided, she said. "We've been paying close attention to China's change, not only in coastal regions, but also in the west."

She said energy efficiency and conservation have been a significant topic in Germany, and that enterprises from both sides could make use of the opportunity to strengthen cooperation.

Germany would love to help China, including Sichuan, deliver their overall urbanization development strategy, she said.

The comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Europe now has reached its 10th year. Zhao Junjie, a European-studies expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, "Though the relationship has been up and down in the past decade, they still have a strong willingness to enhance the bond at this milestone moment."

Jia Xiudong, a senior international affairs researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said Merkel's choice of Chengdu as the first leg of her China trip shows Germany's great interest in the province.

"Western countries previously paid relatively little attention to Sichuan and other regions in the west, but Si-chuan's fast development has aroused their interest," said Jia.

"Meanwhile, the strategy of China's new leadership to intensify the development of western regions makes them see more business opportunities," he said.

Meng Hong, a researcher at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said Germany has had Chengdu on its map for a long time. It set up a consulate in the southwestern city in early 2004, and more than 160 German enterprises have launched offices there, Meng said.

By the end of last year, the city's foreign affairs office had confirmed 6.8 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in direct investment from German enterprises. The total volume of imports and exports between the two sides has reached $1.5 billion.

The city has also laid out a blueprint to build an industrial park that will aim to lure more small and medium-sized German companies, the office said.

"In Germany, more than 98 percent of the enterprises are small and medium-sized companies," said German Ambassador to China Michael Clauss.

These companies are eager to invest in China, and their advanced technologies can help China upgrade its industrial system, Clauss said.

Contact the writers at qiubo@chinadaily.com.cn and zhouwa@chinadaily.com.cn