Xinjiang should make full use of its abundant natural resources and existing industrial foundation while escalating economic and social development, said Zhang Qingli, deputy of the National People's Congress (NPC), vice chairman of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and commander-in-chief of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp.
At a press conference held on Sunday during a break of the ongoing session of the 10th National People's Congress, Zhang was asked by the press about development in Xinjiang under the new five-year plan starting next year.
Zhang said the regional government is considering a new type of development for its industrialization drive.
According to Zhang, 2003 and 2004 saw Xinjiang's economic development advancing fast. Its GDP maintained double-digit growth for two consecutive years, fix-asset investment reached 120 billion yuan (US$14.5 billion), while fiscal revenue and foreign trade also registered rapid growth.
However, Zhang pointed out that compared with other provinces, Xinjiang still has a lot of catching up to do.
"Xinjiang's past prosperity was mainly due to the development of agriculture, including farming, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery."
But its secondary industry and service sectors are underdeveloped, Zhang said.
To accelerate economic development, local government has shifted priority to high-added value production such as petrochemicals and downstream agricultural products.
Zhang is confident of an economic take-off in the next few years. "Xinjiang, with abundant reserves of oil, natural gas, coal and minerals, is full of potential," he said.
Situated in the west of China, Xinjiang neighbors eight countries. At present, 27 land ports have been established along its 5,600 km border to exploit and encourage booming international trade.
"To develop trade-related industries, we must transform our ideas and integrate our management and operation with the requirements of the market economy," Zhang said.
He made three suggestions for the further development of border trade: develop good-quality products, make full use of foreign resources and maintain a principle of credibility and reciprocity.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun March 8, 2005)