SCENIC DRAW: Traveling along Lijiang River by boat is a must for tourists visiting Guilin, in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where 93 percent of days met second-grade air-quality standards in 2007 (ZHOU HUA)
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, an underdeveloped region in southwest China, is looking everywhere for opportunities to grow.
As the more economically developed east region of China's mainland and Hong Kong upgrade their industries, labor-intensive manufacturing industries are being transferred to less developed inland regions in central and west China.
"The transfer of enterprises from east coastal China to inland has provided a wonderful opportunity to Guangxi, an opportunity we cannot miss. However, we will not sacrifice the environment for rapid economic development," stressed Guo Shengkun, Secretary of the Party Committee of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on October 28, speaking shortly before the 50th anniversary celebrations of the autonomous region.
In 2007, about 93 percent of days met second-grade air-quality standards, and 96 percent of the river met third-grade water-quality standards in Guangxi. "The environment is our strength and is the foundation for our development. This will not be compromised," Guo said.
Laibin is a city in north Guangxi with a population of 2.5 million, 75 percent of whom belong to minority ethnic groups. It is an emerging port city 156 km from Nanning, capital of the autonomous region. Ships with a capacity of over 1,000 tons can commute from Laibin to Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao.
Laibin is also the third largest sugarcane base in China. The sugarcane is used to produce 1.5 million tons of sugar each year, which accounts for 10 percent of the national total. This fact has gained Laibin the nickname "sugar capital of China."
In October 2003, Laibin cooperated with Dongguan City East Sugar Group Co. Ltd. (East Sugar) from Guangdong Province to set up Guangxi Laibin East Sugar Group Co. Ltd. (Laibin East Sugar). East Sugar is a large state-owned enterprise and is one of the top 50 enterprises in China's food industry.
Sugarcane dregs, the byproduct of sugar production, can be used to replace wood pulp in making paper. In 2007, Laibin East Sugar founded Laibin East Sugar Paper Making Co. Ltd. (Laibin East Sugar Paper). The paper plant uses sugar dregs to produce high quality paper. Hong Chengbo, Vice General Manager of Laibin East Sugar Paper, said that the paper plant would be built in three phases and that the annual paper production capacity will reach 300,000 tons.
"Compared with wood pulp, sugarcane dregs will not only reduce deforestation and protect the environment, but also lower production costs and boost local employment," Hong said.
Hong told Beijing Review that the company consumes about 400,000 tons of sugarcane each year, which will provide employment for 1 million local households.