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                                    Hunchun to build int'l cooperation zone
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                                    China is to build an international cooperation demonstration zone in Hunchun, Jilin Province, with the aim of boosting exchanges, cooperation and stability in Northeast Asia, officials said in Beijing Monday.

                                    The zone in Hunchun, a port bordering Russia and North Korea, will cover 90 square kilometers and enjoy national preferential policies ranging from taxes and land use to financial support and talent pooling, according to the press conference held by Jilin government.

                                    "The central government's approval of the establishment zone symbolized the joint development of the Tumen River by China, Russia, North Korea, South Korea and Mongolia entering a new stage," said Shen Xujian, deputy regional development director under the National Development and Reform Commission.

                                    Li Longxi, mayor of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, where Hunchun is located, revealed at the press conference that local authorities would also simplify visa procedures to allow more tourists to visit North Korea and Russia via Yanbian.

                                    The State Council officially approved the project in April as part of an international development and cooperation plan in Tumen River that straddles the borders of China, Russia and North Korea in Hunchun.

                                    "It's a good pragmatic start for regional economic prosperity," said L眉 Chao, a researcher from the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.

                                    L眉 stressed that the completion of the zone will not only facilitate logistics between the northeast and other parts of China through ports by sea, but also offer convenience for other projects such as Russia's gas pipeline to South Korea.

                                    Hunchun, with a population of 250,000, is dubbed Northeast China's "golden gateway" to Japan, east coast of South Korea, North America and North Europe through waterways.

                                    A number of facilities are being built or expanded for the project. The Sino-Russian Hunchun-Kamyshovaya railway will resume operations in June, after being suspended in February 2000 due to changes in the Russian railway management system. A 488-kilometer high-speed railway from Changchun to Hunchun has been built. Neighboring airports are also being expanded, according to the press conference.

                                    In 1990, the United Nations Development Program sought to raise $30 billion within 20 years and develop the region along the Tumen River into a world-class transport, trade and financial hub through joint efforts by neighboring countries.

                                    "However, due to the weak economic base in the area and reluctance to invest from other countries like Japan and South Korea, the plan progressed slowly," L眉 said, noting that they feared that Korean Peninsula issue would pose a risk to their investment.

                                    While some residents welcomed the zone, Hunchun's success as an engine for economic growth depends on the sincere operation and peaceful solutions to any conflicts between the countries, L眉 said.

                                    Author锛? 銆€銆€銆€Source锛? xinhua 銆€銆€銆€ Editor锛? Yang Fan

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