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China invites private investors to help build US$318b of projects

[SHANGHAI] China's state planning agency on Monday released a list of more than 1,000 proposed projects totalling 1.97 trillion yuan (S$425.34 billion) that it is inviting private investors to help fund, build and operate.

The National Development and Reform Commission said the 1,043 projects, in sectors such as transport, water conservancy and public services, will be done as public-private partnerships (PPP).

An NDRC statement on its website did not say whether private investors will include foreign firms.

As its economic growth slows, China is increasingly turning to PPP, a model not commonly used, to fill a widening funding gap as Beijing clamps down on traditional off-balance sheet borrowing methods used by local authorities.

The list includes projects planned for 29 areas including capital Beijing and southeastern Jiangxi province. "The publication of this library of PPP projects is to help speed up the adoption of the PPP model, and to encourage and guide social capital into the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities," the NDRC said.

Among items on the lists, which include contact details, are a 51.9 billion yuan project to build two subway lines in the eastern city of Hangzhou, and a 6.4 billion yuan hospital in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

Beijing is striving to rein in local government debt, estimated at around US$3 trillion, but there are signs that the clampdown is having an adverse impact on existing projects.

Chinese policymakers on May 15 ordered banks to keep lending and not reduce the size of their loans to local government projects under construction, especially urban subways and affordable housing.