Taipei, July 26 (CNA) Taoyuan County Magistrate Wu Chih-yang sees his county emerging as a major transportation hub and growth engine of Taiwan in the coming years because of its strategic location, relatively young population, and strong industrial base. Speaking at a forum on city competitiveness, Wu, whose county will be upgraded to a special municipality before the end of this year, said Taoyuan has the potential to play a significant role in boosting regional development. The northern Taiwan county, which lies between the Greater Taipei area and the high-tech hub of Hsinchu, has a population of 2.05 million with an average age of 37 years old, the second youngest behind only Hsinchu City among cities and counties in the country, Wu said. Those assets and the county's industrial strength, Wu said, clearly qualifies it for the upcoming transition that will put it on an administrative par with Taiwan's five other special municipalities -- Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung
. Taoyuan is home to 29 industrial parks and over 10,000 factories with combined revenues of more than NT$3 trillion (US$100 billion) a year, the highest among all administrative districts for 10 consecutive years, Wu said. At the same time, Taoyuan is also planning to position itself as a transportation, logistics and commercial hub in Asia-Pacific by linking Taiwan with the rest of the region through an ambitious "aerotropolis project," he stressed. Wu said the airport city project, built around Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the country's major gateway, is one of 12 major public infrastructure projects launched by President Ma Ying-jeou
's administration, and could inject NT$2.3 trillion into the local economy and create 300,000 jobs. Once the green line of the Taoyuan MRT, whose construction will begin next year, comes into service in 2021, it could significantly help cut down the time needed to travel from downtown Taoyuan to the airport and other urban centers, he said. By then, "all of Taoyuan will be the hinterland of development for the aerotropolis," said Wu, who is running to be elected as the first leader of Taoyuan as a special municipality.
(By Flor Wang, Elizabeth Hsu and Tai Ya-chen)