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    China Daily Print Edition
    CHENGDU: Southwest China's Sichuan Province has taken advantage of State bonds to undertake infrastructure construction on an unprecedented scale, achieving substantial economic growth.

    To offset the unfavourable impact of the Asian economic crisis, which began in late 1997, the central government decided to adopt a proactive fiscal policy which pushed the issuance of long-term State construction bonds to boost investment and consumption.

    Since the central government started issuing the bonds in 1998, Sichuan has received 23.5 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion) to invest in 249 construction projects, said Vice-Governor Zou Guangyan.

    With the help of the bonds, Sichuan has invested 540 billion yuan (US$66 billion) in infrastructure construction over the past four years, giving an impetus to the local economy. Its gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 8.8 per cent during the Ninth Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000), higher than the national average of 8.5 per cent, Zou said.

    Sichuan now has 1,150 kilometres of expressways, ranking first in western China. Nearly 700 kilometres of this was completed with the support of State bonds. The bonds have also provided funds for the construction and renovation of four airports in Guangyuan, Luzhou, Mianyang and Chengdu, the provincial capital.

    Located in a basin surrounded by mountains, Sichuan has been known for its inaccessibility since ancient times, when the famous Chinese poet Li Bai said "travelling to Sichuan is as difficult as mounting the sky." With another five years of infrastructure construction completed with State bonds, that inaccessibility will be confined to history, the vice-governor said.

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