Xinjiang Strides Towards Modernity

Guo Xiaohong

Honey melons, sweet pears, large grapes, and the marvelous Tianshan and Altay mountains are among the best things that represent the image of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the outside world.

In the new century, however, Xinjiang is taking on a new look. Its improved infrastructure has paved the way for massive development and her constantly attracting more domestic and foreign investors.

Transportation in Xinjiang

A modern “Silk Road”, a network of highways, railways, air routes and telecommunications has been formed, linking the region more closely with the outside world.

Highways crisscross the region, with a total length of 35,000 km. The newly opened 265-km Urumqi-Kuitun Expressway at the northern foot of the Tianshan Mountains is the first such road in Xinjiang.

The region has 3,008 km of rail lines. In December 1999, the Southern Xinjiang Railway opened to traffic, providing greater accessibility to the southern area. Xinjiang has 55 domestic and six international air routes totaling 150,000 km, ranking first among the autonomous regions in China.

Xinjiang also boasts advanced telecommunications. The establishment of the northern and southern Xinjiang optical cable has greatly upgraded services. So far, the region has 30,000 km of phone lines.

Opportunities Ushered in by the Improvement of Infrastructure

The infrastructure construction has removed the bottleneck to economic development and boosted newly established industries.

Convenient transportation has introduced local fruit, melons and quality cotton to the outside world, and these products enjoy good sales at home and abroad. Easy access has been a boon for tourism. In 1999, the region received 7 million tourists wanting to enjoy the new access to its landscape of snow-capped mountains, grasslands, and lakes.

The growth of energy industry has invigorated local industry. During the ninth Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000), the region saw great improvements in its power industry.

The opening of the second Eurasian Continental Bridge, along with border highways and foreign transshipment ports, has intensified Xinjiang’s opening-up. In 1999, it achieved US$1.76 billion in foreign trade, an increase of over 50 percent from the previous year. Border trade has contributed half the total for seven straight years.

Water conservancy projects have improved irrigation, flood control, power generation and tourism.

Blueprints for the New Century

To step up its development in the country’s ambitious plan to see a thriving western region, Xinjiang will continue its infrastructure construction in the next five years, including the reconstruction and expansion of airports, highways, water conservation, and environmental protection.

The region has received a World Bank loan valued at US$100 million, which will be used to improve urban transport in Urumqi, the regional capital.

In addition, the region is launching a project, Digital Xinjiang. Many large international IT enterprises, including Intel Corp., have agreed to participate in this project with their technology, human resources, and capital.

Xinjiang will also adopt updated technology to develop its solar energy and water pump projects to tackle its chronic water scarcity.

(CIIC 12/25/2000)

In This Series

WB Provides Two Loans to China

Xinjiang to Further Develop Tourism

Xinjiang to Be a Major Bread Wheat Producer

Preparation for Huge Gas Project Under Way

Xinjiang Discovers Big Oilfield

Xinjiang Opens Mineral Resources to Foreign Investors

Poverty Relief Project in Xinjiang Successful

California, Xinjiang to Strengthen Agricultural Cooperation



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