WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2015 — About 275,000 residents in China’s Sichuan province will have access to better infrastructure services through a $100 million loan approved today by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors.
The new Sichuan Chongqing Cooperation: Guang’an Demonstration Area Infrastructure Development Project will support basic urban infrastructure in Linshui County and Qianfeng District of Guang’an Municipality, such as storm water drainage, pipelines and treatment facilities, and green transport corridors. The project will also help the towns conduct strategic environmental and social impact assessments, improve the planning and management of capital investments and municipal assets, and develop investment promotion services. It will also provide industry skills training for low-income residents.
“By improving basic urban services while making plans to manage their natural, financial and human resources, and their infrastructure, these towns have the potential to develop as part of the extended metropolitan region of Chongqing,” said Joanna Masic, World Bank’s Senior Urban Development Specialist and the project’s task team leader. “The Bank-financed project will help the local governments with urban development planning by drawing on lessons learned from international and domestic experiences, as well as from the World Bank’s global and China operations.”
Guang’an Municipality, the birthplace of Deng Xiaoping, is in southeast Sichuan province, near the urban center of Chongqing Municipality. Its urbanization and income levels are below the national average. Its total population has declined in the last few decades as many migrated to other areas for work. But its urban population has steadily grown, especially in towns closer to Chongqing.
Linshui County Town and Qianfeng District Town, in particular, have seen steady growth in GDP per capita and manufacturing jobs. These towns have the potential to benefit from the expansion of development in the Chongqing metropolitan region, and play a role in Sichuan-Chongqing cooperation, including the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Zone. Established in 2011, the zone covers 31 districts and counties in Chongqing and 15 cities in other parts of Sichuan. It is expected to become an important economic center in western China, as one of the country’s strongest comprehensive economic zones like the Yangtze River Delta.
The two towns need better basic urban services and job opportunities for current and future residents, as well as for migrants who have returned. They could see faster development and demonstrate the benefits of regional cooperation by devising strategies to tap into the Chongqing economy, as it evolves and creates spillovers beyond its administrative border.