GUIYANG -- Well-preserved ecological environment and abundant tourism resources have emboldened officials in southwest China's Guizhou Province to build their hometown into a "Switzerland in the East".
At an international environmental protection forum held in Guiyang,capital of Guizhou Province, Saturday, local officials said geological resemblance between their hometown and Switzerland gives them advantages in learning from the success of one of the world's richest countries.
"Guizhou and Switzerland are both landlocked and mountainous. Both of them are rich in ecological and cultural tourism resources," said Chen Min'er, governor of Guizhou.
Chen said his province will learn from Switzerland's experience in balancing modernization and ecological protection.
Switzerland has become prosperous because it has fostered its strength and circumvented its weakness, he said.
The official said his province will not merely copy the success of Switzerland. "We are looking to develop an economy with local characteristics."
To achieve that end, Guizhou will give full play to the industries with local advantages and encourage medium and small-sized enterprises to innovate, Chen told the forum.
Occupying a land area of about 170,000 square km, Guizhou is four times the size of Switzerland. However, with a population of about 35 million, its GDP in 2012 stood at 680.2 billion yuan (110.7 billion U.S. dollars).
Given the relatively underdeveloped economy, Guizhou will learn from Switzerland in sectors of urban construction and ecological preservation, according to Chen.
"A well-preserved ecological environment is now the most prominent advantage for Guizhou," he said, adding the province will protect its environment while promoting economic development.
"We will promote the balanced development of cities of different sizes and promote the environmental-friendly development of townships," he said.
The province will also boost the construction of its infrastructure and make its public services more accessible, Chen said.
Swiss President Ueli Maurer praised Guizhou for its endeavor to balance economic development and environmental protection. He said Guizhou's strategy was a responsible development path.
Being a landlocked country, Switzerland has limited raw materials and farmland, Maurer said. However, creativity has enabled his country to gain a foothold in the world.
Switzerland also values education. Its economy is diversified and the service sector is strong, he added.
Xu Kuangdi, a former Chinese political advisor, advised authorities in Guizhou to learn from Switzerland in developing green industries, take advantage of its tourism resources, strengthen its capacity to innovate and advance vocational education.