China has announced an investment of 200 billion yuan (31.4 billion U.S. dollars) in an pilot economic zone on the border with Laos. The investment will cover more than 240 projects in such fields as transportation, education and energy for the Mengla zone in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province, according to the provincial development and reform commission and the Xishuangbanna government on Monday.
The 4,500-sq-km zone, approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, in July, includes an economic development park at Mohan on the border.
The Mengla pilot zone will be important for strategic cooperation between China and Laos, a comprehensive transport hub linking China with the Indo-China peninsula and an economic growth engine for the border area, said Ruan Jianzhong, an official with Yunnan planning department.
Construction started on a railway linking Yuxi to Mohan, part of the China-Laos international railway, in August and preparations for Mengla airport are underway. The railway and airport are expected to be in use by 2020.
The zone will focus on agriculture, biological industries, processing, logistics and cultural tourism, said Luo Hongjiang, head of the Xishuangbanna prefectural government.