China Seeks Foreign Funds To End Energy Blackouts Limiting Economic Growth

CHINA appealed for foreign funding Wednesday to help it bolster energy production and end the widespread blackouts that are hobbling the economy. In an apparent response to a plunge in foreign loans and investment since the Beijing massacre last June, China tried to reassure investors in energy projects that China will not sever its overseas contacts or imperil their returns.

``I would like to emphasize the need to accelerate China's energy construction through foreign loans and technology - this is one of the most critical aspects of China's policy of economic reform and the `open door,''' Energy Minister Huang Yicheng told a press conference.

A sudden fall in foreign funding since June has especially hurt China's energy sector, which is viewed as a crucial but weak link in the country's ambitious scheme to build the economy.

Mr. Huang says thousands of factories across China must regularly shut down because of lack of electricity and other forms of energy. Since 1980 the shortages have cut agricultural and industrial production by an estimated $43 billion a year, says the official newspaper Guangming Daily.

For several years the growth in energy production has lagged far behind private demand and China's rapid industrial expansion, Huang says. Pointing to the shortage of energy and other problems, Beijing last year closed approximately 800,000 collective and private businesses.

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