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Guilin moots China-S'pore park in Yangshuo

South China city to be developed into int'l tourist hub

GUILIN'S Party Secretary Zhao Leqin on Sunday proposed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that a China-Singapore tourism park be built in the scenic county of Yangshuo.

"Guilin's scenery is unparalleled," he told the visiting Singapore leader in a 30-minute meeting. "Yangshuo is even better. I know you're going to take a boat tour to Yangshuo and you'll see what it's like."

Yangshuo attracts 11 million tourists yearly, according to Mr Zhao. "It's quite a developed town for tourism," he said. "What's special about Yangshuo is that it's the core area for Guilin's landscape. According to a poll by CNN, the Lijian river (in Yangshuo) is one of the 15 best in the world and (the) only river in China on the list."

Yangshuo, which has been popular with both Chinese and foreign travellers since the 1980s, comes under Guilin's jurisdiction. Guilin is a prefecture city in the autonomous Guangxi region in southern China. Mr Zhao said that, along with Hainan, Guilin has been earmarked by the central government to be developed into an international tourist hub in China.

Mr Lee was on his first visit to Guilin. He told his host that he would convey to Singapore businessmen that there are business opportunities in Yangshuo. "We hope they are able to come and explore it and develop something new and exciting."

Many Singaporeans come to China and they are looking for new destinations to visit there, he told Mr Zhao. "If the projects are there, the transportation links are there, I think even more will come and visit.

"(And) after I've seen Guilin, I would be able to tell them from my personal experience that this is a good place, and they will come," he said.

Mr Lee, who is on an eight-day official visit to southern China and Hong Kong, will arrive in Guangxi's capital, Nanning, on Monday where he will give the keynote address at the joint official opening ceremony of the 11th China-Asean Expo and China-Asean Business and Investment Summit. Singapore is the country of honour at this year's Expo.

According to Guilin's party secretary, there are some 30 Singapore companies doing business in the city, with US$110 million invested there.