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Li backs roads for cross-border ties in southwest
Last Updated: 2014-03-08 07:02 | China Daily
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When deputies of the National People's Congress made a suggestion to expand road systems in Yunnan province to link southwestern China to adjacent countries, Premier Li Keqiang immediately got behind the idea and asked his office to take note.

As long as the projects are included in regional planning, they will enjoy his support, he said.

"It is a project that will bring benefits not only to Yunnan but to all of western China," Li said.

"We have made progress in building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) Economic Corridor is equally important. The four countries of BCIM make up 40 percent of the total population on the globe. It is a huge market."

Wang Fu, head of the economic planning body of Yunnan province, has been pushing for better interconnectivity between China and bordering countries.

"The construction of a road system is vital to provide convenient transportation between the cooperating countries," said Wang, a deputy of the NPC who also heads the Yunnan Development and Reform Commission. He made the comment during a panel discussion at the NPC on Friday.

As China pledges to further deepen ties with South Asian countries, Li urged Yunnan to promote trade and other cooperation with its neighbors.

He said Yunnan should "make full use of its geographic advantage" - near India and bordering Vietnam and Myanmar - to deepen economic exchanges.

Earlier, at the opening ceremony of the annual session of the NPC, Li told deputies that the government will "intensify the planning and building" of the BCIM economic corridor - a zone that envisions links between the four countries.

China and India said last year during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to China that they would continue discussions on the corridor.

A joint study group meeting was held in the provincial capital of Kunming in December. Agreement was reached to study transportation, trade and investment among BCIM member states.

Yunnan Governor Li Jiheng said the province has made the opening-up of border areas a priority in government work.

The second China-South Asia Expo, expected to become a crucial platform for Yunnan's opening-up, is scheduled for June 6 to 10, after the first expo was held last year with more than 100 countries sending delegates.

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