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Tokyo will begin talks with Beijing as early as this autumn to determine the size of official Japanese yen loans to be extended to China in fiscal 1999 and 2000, government officials said June 24.

Beijing recently asked Tokyo to begin the talks as soon as possible and Tokyo agreed in principle to the request, the officials said, requesting that they not be named. The officials said, however, that Tokyo asked Beijing to compile a list of infrastructure and other projects that it wants to implement with the loans before starting discussions on the amount of such low-interest loans.

Beijing is now compiling the list and will present it to Tokyo as early as this autumn, the officials said. Fiscal 1999 and 2000 are the last two years of the five-year Japanese loan program for China, the fourth such multiyear loan program since Tokyo began providing yen loans to the communist country in the late 1970s.

At the end of 1994, Japan agreed to provide a total of 580 billion yen in yen loans to China for 40 infrastructure and other projects during the first three years of the five-year loan program, which began in fiscal 1996. The size of yen loans for the last two years was not set at that time.

The annual amount of yen loans to be provided to China between fiscal 1996 and 1998 will average about 193 billion yen, sharply up from the annual average of 135 billion yen extended under the third loan program that covered the six years from fiscal 1990 through fiscal 1995. In recent years, Japan has put increasing emphasis on environmental protection and development of inland areas in providing official yen loans to China.

Of the 40 projects to be financed by yen loans during fiscal 1996 and 1998, 15 are environment-related projects and five are agricultural projects. Of the 40 projects, 27 are for China’s poorer inland areas.

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