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STANDARDISED AND ONLINE: Chinese province's tender process prevents bidding in collusion
CHINA's efforts in combating corruption have borne fruit, especially in the southern provinces which are the main beneficiaries, with Zhuhai in the forefront of economic development.
Consider the statistics. Last year, Zhuhai's gross domestic product reached 140.3 billion yuan (RM70.15 billion). Its trade volume from overseas investments recorded US$51.639 billion (RM154.917 billion), while 11,254 foreign companies are in Zhuhai, 80 of which are listed in the Fortune 500.
Zhuhai is ideally located near Hong Kong and Macau, destinations popular for their tourism and gambling industries.
China has proven that transparency is an important ingredient to attract investments, local or foreign, and anti-corruption efforts played a big part.
Still, China's leaders continue to be humble when asked about its inexorable march to replace the United States as the world's main economic locomotive.
Welcoming 19 journalists from Southeast Asia and South Asia recently at the International Press Centre in Beijing, the Foreign Ministry's spokesman, Hong Lei, elaborated on this issue, saying that China was more preoccupied with keeping up good political and economic cooperation with its neighbours and rivals for now.
Asked to comment on China's rise and the US decline, he argued: "China is still a developing country. Even though the US economy is sluggish, it is still number one in terms of military strength, science and technology, education, et cetera. So, we will need more time (to get to that position)."
For sure, one of the main challenges is the continuing anti-corruption campaign which was pushed to a higher level when China decided to embrace the free market economy model.
Data since 2008 had shown that 60,000 people had been found guilty of corruption, which forced the authorities to tighten rules on business deals.
One measure, though, might make people sit up and take notice -- the introduction of corruption as a subject in university. This is implemented in Beijing Normal University Zhuhai (BNUZ). The university in Tanjiawan has made the subject compulsory for its 22,000 students.
Professor Wei Tang, Secretary of the Communist Party of China at BNUZ, believes that the course has been quite effective in raising self-discipline and awareness that hopefully will prevent young people from developing a mentality favouring corruption.
The aim to banish corruption is further strengthened at Zhuhai Public Resource Exchange Centre, the sole public entity that approves projects in Zhuhai.
"Since 2005, Zhuhai has standardised the tender process involving tenderees, tenderers and bidding evaluation specialists to reduce the discretionary power of the three participants, thus solving problems such as tailor-made bidding or bidding in collusion," said the director of the centre, Wu Yongyi.
The centre also allows online registration of applications for projects, which has improved investments in Zhuhai. The process can be monitored at any time.
From August 2006 until April this year, the centre has recorded 35,555 business transactions worth 138.209 billion yuan.
On June 25, for example, CCCC Second Harbour Engineering Co Ltd won the bid for Section II of the land-forming and soft foundation treatment works of Phase Two of the Ocean Spring Resort in Zhuhai, with a contract worth 537.62 million yuan.
Located in the southwest of the Phase One holiday village of Ocean Spring Resort in Zhuhai, the project involves a hot spring holiday town, sports and leisure facilities and real estate.
The project is of great importance to further enrich Zhuhai's travel and holiday products and accelerate the development of Zhuhai's tourism.
Wu only has one message to overseas investors, including Malaysians: "Come and invest in Zhuhai, you will be treated the same as local firms."