Taxkorgan County, located in the Tadzhik prefecture of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has unveiled bold plans to develop its local economy by scientifically tapping its rich ecological resources.
Ongoing strategies for developing China's western areas offer attractive opportunities for developing the area's local economy, according to Liu Jun, deputy secretary of the county committee of the Communist Party of China.
With an area of 25,000 square km, the county is located on the Pamir Plateau, which has an average elevation of 4,000 meters.
Harsh natural conditions have brought suffering to the 32,000 residents who have lived in poverty for decades.
In recent years, the local government has invited environmental experts from Beijing and Urumqi to evaluate its ecological resources and help design a balanced plan to boost the area's sluggish economy while not destroying its ecological environment.
After careful research, the experts concluded that, since the county boasts rich water resources, tapping and producing mineral water, hot springs water and glacier water would be good ways for the county to develop an ecology-friendly economy.
Records show the county - located between 8,611-metre-high Qogir Peak and Muztagata Mountain, the "father of the glacier"- could tap 10 million tons of glacier water, 300,000 tons of mineral water and 100,000 tons of hot springs water annually.
Because the water is rich in minerals, it could help sufferers from diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, according to experts.
Both domestic and overseas companies have shown great interest in tapping the area's water resources, and many have already signed contracts with the local government to work jointly on such projects.
The tourism industry is another focus for future development. The area's snow-capped mountains, magnificent glaciers, clear skies and the ancient "Silk Road" have attracted a large number of tourists.
Since 1995, the number of tourists has increased 12 percent annually. In 2000, the total number of tourists exceeded 80,000, primarily from other provinces of China, Pakistan, Japan, France and Germany.
(China Daily January 21, 2002)