Western China regions have reported an annual average economic
growth rate of 10.7 percent for six straight years to last year,
thanks to a national strategy to develop the area.
The combined GDP of western regions reached 3.33 trillion yuan
(US$416.25 billion) last year, compared with 1.66 trillion yuan in
2000, when the central government launched the strategy to help the
relatively backward west catch up with the more prosperous
The economic growth gap between the two regions fell to 0.4 of a
percentage point last year from 1.9 percentage points six years
ago, said Wang Jinxiang, deputy head of the Leading Group Office
under the State Council for the Development of the Western
Fixed assets investment grew by 23 percent annually in West
China in the past six years and local revenue by an average 15.5
The strategy involves 12 provinces, autonomous regions and
municipalities, covering seven million square kilometers and with a
population of about 370 million.
These regions lag far behind the eastern areas due to harsh
natural conditions, inadequate transport links and geography among
By the end of last year, the government had invested one
trillion yuan (US$125 billion) to develop transport, water
conservancy facilities, energy resources and telecommunications
services in the western regions, Wang said.
It had also launched several projects to restore and improve the
environment, with 5.65 million hectares of farmland returned to
forest, 7.71 million hectares of barren hills and wasteland planted
with trees, and ecological deterioration curbed on 19.33 million
hectares of grassland where grazing was banned.
Thanks to the strategy, 89.5 percent of villages were linked by
highways, 99 percent of townships had power supplies and more than
36 million rural people had access to clean drinking water. The
government relocated 1.22 million people in abject poverty to
places with better natural conditions.
With an improving investment environment, the western regions
have attracted more investors from home and abroad, said Wang.
More than 30,000 enterprises from East China had invested 600
billion yuan in western regions, which saw foreign trade total
US$164.3 billion from 2000 to 2005 and used US$11.2 billion of
(Xinhua News Agency August 31, 2006)