China's government inviting private companies to participate in 80 major national projects, spanning energy, information and infrastructure; move is latest step to raise role of markets in areas of economy previously monopolized by state conglomerates

BEIJING , May 21, 2014 () – China's government is inviting private companies to participate in 80 major national projects, spanning energy, information and infrastructure, according to a list published by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The move represents the latest step by Beijing to raise the role of the markets in areas of the economy previously monopolised by state conglomerates, including hydro power, solar energy, wind power, and oil and gas pipelines.

The companies include China National Petroleum Corp , China Petrochemical Corp , China National Offshore Oil Corp and State Grid Corp of China .

The 80 projects also involve assets owned by China Railway Corp and China Telecom Group, China United Network Communications Group (China Unicom) and China Mobile Communications Corp , the NDRC, China's top planning agency, said in a statement on its website on Wednesday.

Last month, Premier Li Keqiang announced that China would allow private investment for the 80 projects as part of reforms to increase privatization, without naming them.

In the future, more sectors of the economy, including utilities, airports and oil and gas exploration, also will be opened to more private investment, he said.

NDRC said on Wednesday that private investors are encouraged to participate in the 80 projects in the forms of joint ventures, wholly owned entities or franchises.

Nearly one third of the 80 projects involve traffic infrastructure - including a subway in Beijing and a railway linking the northeastern city of Changchun and a town in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Two projects are in the area of information infrastructure while the rest are energy-related, such as a China Petrochemical LNG project and a hydro power project in southwestern Sichuan province.

State-owned infrastructure projects not included in the list should also invite private investment as long as they are good for China's economic transformation and upgrade, the NDRC said.

Investment by state-owned companies and provincial and city governments, which have combined outstanding debt of $3 trillion as of June last year, have been criticized by some analysts for being inefficient.

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Matthew Miller)

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