West Hopes Projects to Spur Development

Western China has placed infrastructure construction at the top of their development agenda, top provincial officials said at the Fourth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC).

Wang Lequan, an NPC deputy, said the area will focus on the construction of transport, power grids and reservoirs in the next five years.

"Infrastructure construction is expected to greatly fuel the development of the local economy as a lot of steel, raw materials and machinery are needed for it," said Wang, also Party secretary of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Huge projects include a west-to-east gas transmission project and a railway connecting the region with Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan, Wang said.

With the construction and upgrading of current railways, roads and airports, the region, a major agricultural and stock-breeding producer, hopes to become an international trade center.

"We are confident we can double our foreign trade volume from the current US$2.3 billion in the coming five years," Wang said.

Like Xinjiang, Qinghai Province also pins its hopes on infrastructure construction to increase the income of its residents.

Zhao Leji, governor of the province, said the construction of the planned 1,100-kilometre-long Qinghai-Tibet railway will considerably boost the domestic demand because half the railway will be built in Qinghai Province.

Once completed, the more than US$2.6 billion project will facilitate business and communications between the remote province and eastern China, Zhao added.

(China Daily 03/08/2001)