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Tie Xi district under transformation

10-23-2010 13:38 BJT Special Report:CPC Central Committee Holds 5th Plenum |

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Restructuring the economic development pattern is high on China's next five-year program.

Tie Xi district in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning province is considered the cradle of China's heavy industrial base. Our reporter takes a closer look at how the area has struggled to reinvent itself to stay competitive.

At a workshop of the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Group, workers are busy with plant relocation... They must ensure every piece of the gigantic equipment is carefully disassembled and loaded onto trucks.

Dismantling work started in May at this 72-year-old large-scale state-owned enterprise. The group is scheduled to move to its new site in the economic development zone by October.

Many workers find it hard to say goodbye. Che Wen is a veteran of the enterprise of more than 30 years.

Che Wen, Worker, Shengyang Heavy Machiery Group, said, "The plant has been here for so many years. My father used to work here too. For many workers my age, it's a factory of two generations."

"This is the oldest workshop of the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Group. It has a history of 72 years. This workshop saw the smelting of the first batch of steel after the founding of the People's Republic of China 60 years ago. It witnessed the rise and fall of the factory over the past decades. Today with the factory being relocated, the workshop has finished its mission and faces demolition."

Shenyang Heavy Machinery Group, or S-H-M-G, was the first heavy machinery manufacturer of the People's Republic. Today it is still the largest. A merger and restructuring three years ago saved the group from bankruptcy.

In fact, SHMG is one of the last few to bid farewell to the Tie Xi district. Hundreds of state-owned factories have moved out since the municipal government launched a massive enterprise relocation plan in 2002.

Professor Feng Guisheng from the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences was involved in the creation of the plan.

Professor Feng Guisheng, iaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said, "The situation in the late 1990s was extremely severe and bleak. Three-fourths of all enterprises were shut down or in a state of semi-cut off. Some 130 thousand workers were laid off. That was the most difficult time. I think three reasons caused the situation. First, Tie Xi had only heavy industry with no modern service sector at all. Second, heavy pollution scared off external capital. Third, the enterprises' mechanism was inflexible and lacked vitality. The relocation is not simply a change of site, but aims at totally changing the unfavorable situation."

So far it has seemed to work. S-H-M-G's new plant in the economic zone covers an area of 1.2 million square meters, triple the size of the old factory. More importantly, the discrepancy in land prices has provided the enterprise the funds it needs to upgrade its equipment and technology.

Tie Xi has taken on a new outlook after the withdrawal of dozens of industrial factories. The environment improved a lot. And real estate and service sectors have taken hold and are booming.

The hardest time has passed. But more changes are expected for the local residents.

"These old and shabby apartment buildings are what the local people call "the workers' village". It was built in the 1950s especially for employees of the former state-owned enterprises in Shenyang. It used to be the best and most concentrated residential area of industrial workers in Shenyang. At that time, it was considered a great honor to live here and have a job at the state-owned factories."

About three thousand households still live in more than 60 worn-out apartment buildings here, with most of them laid-off workers of state factories.

80-year old Madam Chen has been living here for 52 years.

Madam Chen, Retiree of Former State-owned Plant, said, "There's been no big changes here. The houses are shabby. And their condition get worse and worse every year."

Madam Chen and many other residents here expect the transformation of Tie Xi to bring more tangible benefits to their lives.

And the old workshop not only represents a sign of history, but also bears hope for the future.

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: CNTV.CN

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