China issues guidance to boost new Silk Road, regional development

  • Reuters
  • Updated: Aug 21, 2015 20:00 IST

In an attempt to support its new Silk Road infrastructure initiative, China's government rolled out fresh guidance on Friday that would also look into regional development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area and the Yangtze River economic corridor that includes Shanghai.

The government said it will speed up approvals for major construction projects and strengthen bank credit policies for investments in those regions, in policy guidance issued by the China Banking Regulatory Commission and the National Development and Reform Commission, the government's top planning agency.

China is seeking to extend its influence and to support domestic industry through its "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which aims to create a modern Silk Road trade route across central, west and south Asia.

The new policy will bolster demand in China's infrastructure sector as concern mounts over flagging economic growth. Activity in the factory sector shrank at its fastest pace in almost 6-1/2 years in August, a private survey showed on Friday.

Projects under the plan include a network of railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet connections, and maritime and other infrastructure links extending as far as Greece, Russia and Oman, increasing China's connections with Europe and Africa.

Banks will be encouraged to securitise assets and clear non-performing loans to increase lending to long-term development projects, Ye Yanfei, an inspector at the banking regulatory commission's policy research bureau, told reporters.

Ten new local asset management companies would facilitate the process, he said.

Projects targeted for support include environmental protection, forestry and water conservancy, and construction of central and western Chinese railways, the document said.

China Development Bank Corp, the country's biggest policy lender for large infrastructure investments, is expected to boost lending to 2 trillion yuan ($313 billion) this year, Lu Xin, deputy head of the bank's business development unit, told a news conference hosted by the banking regulator.

President Xi Jinping said in March that he hoped China's annual trade with the countries in the new Silk Road initiative would surpass $2.5 trillion in a decade.

Friday's guidance also outlined support for Xi's proposal to integrate the areas of Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin to help ease Hebei province's dependence on highly polluting heavy industries, a source of hazardous smog throughout the region.

The three local administrations and their transportation networks would be more closely integrated, as the capital shifts industrial enterprises, factories and even government departments into neighbouring cities. The plan will also relocate heavy industries such as steel to China's east coast.

($1 = 6.3887 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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