BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Chongqing, the populous economic hub in southwestern China, never seems to be out of the limelight. After launching a sweeping crackdown on violent gangs last year, the city is now setting its sights on building Asia's largest manufacturing base for information technology (IT) products.
In an interview with China Daily, Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan expressed his confidence on the prospects for the IT industry, supported by fast-growing demand for computer and communication facilities, even though the overall global output of the IT industry has shrunk some 40 percent amid the global financial crisis.
"Partnering with several big names in IT, such as Hewlett-Packard (HP) and CISCO, Chongqing will soon have an IT industrial cluster with an annual industrial output of some 400 billion yuan ($59 billion)," Huang said on the sidelines of the World Cities Summit in Singapore.
US computer maker HP and world-leading communication technology provider CISCO have established new manufacturing bases in Chongqing, aiming to tap the country's central and western regions.
The HP factory will produce 5 million computers this year and 40 million by 2012, according to Huang.
The IT industrial cluster is only part of the local authorities' effort to build Chongqing, China's largest municipality, into an economic powerhouse in the country's western hinterland.
The city won government approval last month to set up a 1,200 square kilometer special economic zone - Liangjiang New Area, the nation's third of its kind after Shanghai Pudong and Tianjin Binhai.
Located in northern Chongqing, Liangjiang New Area is set to be built into a modern manufacturing base and the premier financial center in western China, and will also serve as a test bed for the country's bold social and economic reforms, such as integrating urban and rural development and public housing reform.
"If Pudong and Binhai are landmarks for China's export-oriented economy, the launch of Liangjiang New Area is a milestone marking the country's decisiveness in opening up inland regions and spurring domestic demand," Huang said.
Indeed, Chongqing's rapid development owes much to the country's strategy of developing western regions, which was initiated 10 years ago aiming to achieve more balanced growth between eastern and western China.
During the past decade, the country invested $100 billion in 23 major infrastructure projects in the western region, which has helped the region's economy grow at an annualized 11.9 percent during the period.
At a national meeting held by the State Council earlier this week, the country's top policymakers pledged to continue the pace of developing China's vast western region, adding new impetus to Chongqing's future development.
"We cannot miss the chance to take advantage of the country's western development strategy, as Chongqing is set to become a key growth engine in western China," Huang said.
Under the city's development roadmap, it plans to quadruple its industrial output to some 4 trillion yuan over the next 10 years, driven by pillar industries including IT, automobile, equipment and machinery manufacturing, he added.