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Infrastructure and Ecology Improved in Western China
Over the past three years, China’s western regions have upgraded its infrastructure and ecological system noticeably owing to the government’s Western China Development Strategy. Many key projects are on full swing as well, said Li Zibin, head of the Leading Group Office for the Development of the Western Regions of the State Council, at a press conference on Tuesday.

Many water conservancy projects have been launched in the region, such as that in Baise, Guangxi, and Zipingpu in Sichuan. The river valleys of Tarim in Xinjiang and Heihe in Inner Mongolia are under comprehensive harness. Over 30 large and medium-sized reservoirs have been built or expanded, in addition to 102 water-saving projects that have been completed.

The newly built traffic mileage in these regions has reached 50,000 km; newly built railways, 1,641 km; multiple track, 1,311 km and electrified rails, 1,370 km. Thirty-one airports have been constructed or renovated.

A group of key projects is under full-scale construction. The construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway was launched in June 2001 and will be completed by 2007; the west-east gas transmission pipes will be put into operation by 2004 and the west-east power transmission project has an installed capacity of 22 million kw now.

Efforts have also been made to boost the telecom industry, including optical cable, broadband Internet access and rural telephone. It is expected that by the end of this year, western China will have 40 million fixed telephone subscribers and 45 million cellular phone users.

The “Transmit Power to Townships” project will bring power to over 98 percent of western townships. Radio and TV coverage will reach more than 97 percent of the area in these regions. In addition, 13 million rural residents have been benefited from the drinking water supply project, which cost the government 2.8 billion yuan.

As for the environmental protection, some 58 million mus (1 mu equals 1/15 hectare) of cultivated area will be turned back into forests and pastures by the end of this year. And tree-felling in the upper reaches of the Yellow River has been banned and the former fellers have become tree- and grass-planters with governmental subsidies. Meanwhile, the protection of natural forest is improving. The measures taken in the areas surrounding Beijing and Tianjin have shown remarkable effect in curbing and reducing sandstorms.

In the coming five years, China will improve 1 billion mu of natural grassland, revealed Li.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Guo Xiaohong November 14, 2002)

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