China's leading petrochemical firm, Sinopec, was ranked as the most competitive of China's top 1,000 publicly listed companies, state media reported. The survey compiled by the Global Competitive Organization (GCO) and the Appraisal Centre of China News Service also ranked the top 500 of China's small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), finding that the SME sector was becoming an increasingly important employer. In all, the top 500 SMEs employed some 325,000 staff in 2003 up from 278,000 a year earlier. The survey also found that a large competitiveness gap remains between China's east coast cities and inland provinces, although some regions such as Sichuan, Shanxi and Chongqing are rapidly gaining ground.
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