BEIJING, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Thursday the State Council, China's Cabinet, had approved a program to develop the region on the west side of the Taiwan Strait.
The Western Taiwan Strait Economic Zone covers nine cities in southeastern Fujian Province, including Xiamen, Fuzhou, and Quanzhou, and 11 cities in neighboring Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces.
It is a "strategic decision" by the central authorities to support the efforts of Fujian Province to accelerate the construction of the economic zone, Wen said during a panel discussion with a delegation from Fujian to China's top legislature,the National People's Congress (NPC).
Wen said quickening the construction of the economic zone is of great significance to promoting economic and social development on the west side of the Taiwan Strait and expanding cross-Strait economic cooperation.
According to the development program, the Western Taiwan Strait Economic Zone aims to develop itself into a region characterized by balanced development, reform and opening-up, harmony, and beautiful nature.
Building the economic zone is a systemic project that calls for long-standing efforts, said Wen during the panel discussion.
"We will support the Western Taiwan Strait Economic Zone in leading the way and exploring new paths for exchanges and cooperation between the two sides," said Wen, referring to cross-Straits relations in his government work report to the NPC annual session last Saturday.
An official with the Development and Reform Commission of Fujian told Xinhua the development program included many concrete policies and measures that support the development of the zone, but said the details would be released later in the week.