Guangzhou (formerly Canton) has a population of 7m including unofficial residents estimated at 1.13m, and is Guandong's capital.
The city has long been known as the southern gate of the nation and is the location of the important biannual Canton Trade Fair. Guangzhou is one of the 14 coastal cities opened to foreign trade in 1984.
To the east of the city, at the confluence of the Pearl and Dong Rivers, is Huangpu, Guangzhou's provincial port (and the sixth largest in China) and the Economic and Technological Development Zone of Guangzhou. Since 198, when the ETDZ was set up, some 131 foreign investment ventures ? mostly wholly-owned JVs ? have been established, including familiar household names such as Wrigley, Procter & Gamble and Pepsi Cola) and a total of 380 contracts signed. The number of Taiwanese companies in the ETDZ are also growing; 24 projects with an investment value of US$30m have been set up in the last two years. A bonded area is being established.
There are many private companies in Guangdong, over 100,000 in Guangzhou alone, which provide employment for the once surplus labour. In 1989, Guangzhou's exports were US$1.05bn with more than 60 per cent of the city's products and semi-finished products going to Hong Kong, and hit US$1.38 in 90. In 1991, Guangzhou's gross industrial output value was 49.12bn RMB.
There is an urgent need to improve Guangzhou's public transport system to meet the needs of the 3m m daily commuters. There are plans to construct a metro with 16 stops, that will start in Fangcun District in the western part of the city and cross the Pearl River to Guangzhou East Railway Station in the Tianhe District, via the old city centre and other busy districts. Construction of the subway is to officially begin before the end of the year as scheduled and the cost is expected to be over US$1 bn.
Big-name companies from Britain, Italy, Japan, Germany and Hong Kong are actively negotiating with government departments on subway contracts. Guangzhou municipal government laps to obtain at least half of the funds from abroad, and is to open several channels to raise domestic construction funds. These include money from government investment, bank loans, land leasing, traffic taxes, lotteries and property development along the subway line.
Road infrastructure in the Pearl River Delta is being built up by Hopewell Holdings (H O. The first portion of a 4 lane highway has been opened to traffic between Guangzhou and Foshan (27km). 34km of the section between Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Other improvements, such as the installation of traffic lights, are also being made.
Guangdong province, as a whole, boasts relatively good communications. There is an extensive network of rivers and of rail links to Beijing and Hong Kong via Guangzhou. The growth of the new airport at Shenzhen has been at the expense of Guangzhou, but has brought much relief to its own airport which has little room to expand and is expected to handle 7m passengers this year.
However, new plans have recently been announced for the construction of a new international airport for Guangzhou. Preparation for its construction will start this year with completion expected in four to five years. The cost will be approximately US$700m.
Li Ziliu, mayor of Guangzhou, told the China Daily, "It is very common that a metropolis like Guangzhou would have two airports", and added that it would complement Hong Kong's planned airport at Chek Lap Kok. Critics, however have raised fears that the two airports would be in direct corn-petition.
Two prospective airport sites are being considered. One is in Guangzhou's Panyu County, the other in between Baiyun District and Conghua County.
The operation of the transport system in Guangdong is the most efficient in China largely because of Hong Kong trucking companies and freight forwarders. There are also as many as 240 transport companies operating in Guangdong with Hong Kong or Macao investment, the majority in the Pearl River Delta area. Many operate container services.
Guangdong province is one of the most dynamic economic regions in China and Guangzhou as part of the Pearl River Delta plays a vital role. Wages are competitive with southeast Asia and are kept low by a pool of workers who migrate there from other provinces.
A major drawback in the province as a whole is the frequency of power and water shortages and the lack of raw materials and components for manufacturing but the province has ambitious infrastructural plans to rectify these problems. It hopes to attract US$190bn in foreign investment in the next 20 years to help realise its ambition of becoming the fifth "little dragon".
* China's first railway corporation was established in Guangzhou recently. The Guangzhou Railway Corporation (Group), formerly the Guangzhou Railway Bureau under the Ministry of Railways, will be allowed to carry out a policy of self development and assume sole responsibility for its profits and losses.
The corporation plans to build more than 1,000km of new track in Guangdong, Hunan, and Hainan provinces before 2000, transform 1,700km into electric lines and rebuild the 140km Guangzhou-Shenzhen line into an express capable of speeds of 160km per hour.
The group will receive US$2.65bn over the next three years by transporting 268m tons of cargo. US$1.75bn is to be handed over to the Ministry of Railways.
* Guangzhou Shipyard, the largest shipbuilder in South China, plans to float shares on the Hong Kong stock market midway through this year.
The plant which employs 10,000 workers, plans to go public before July in an effort to raise funds necessary for launching several projects.
Sources include the Department of Trade &Industry, UK.
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