Treasure Place to Be Better Tapped

“Development will be our main theme and we will achieve a 10 percent GDP growth rate in the next five years,” said Yao Yongfeng, secretary of the prefectural Party committee of Kashi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, while attending the annual session of the Ninth National People’s Congress (NPC) which concluded on March 15.

Yao said Kashi has many advantages for development. As an important agricultural base in southern Xinjiang, Kashi will quicken its construction pace, strengthen readjustment of its economic structure and open wider to the outside world, in order to narrow the development gap between Kashi and China’s eastern and southern provinces.

Kashi covers an area of 160,000 sq km and has a population of 3.3 million. Its Uygur ethnic population accounts for 90 percent of the total.

Oasis agriculture is a unique feature in Kashi. The region is known for its quality bread wheat and fine cotton. It is the largest cotton producer in Xinjiang as well as in China with an annual yield of 300,000 tons, one-fifth of Xinjiang’s total. Thanks to favorable weather, Xinjiang produces 1.5 million tons per year, 40 percent of the country’s total, one-third of which is exported. Kashi is also a land of fruit and flowers, including grapes and pears that sell well in other parts of China.

Kashi, an ancient historical and cultural city, has rich tourism resources. Last year it received 700,000 tourists and achieved 100 million yuan in turnover. Bordering six countries including India and Pakistan, Kashi, a strategic place along ancient Silk Road, has a prosperous border trade. It is China’s western gate to central and west Asia. According to Yao, it attracted 1.4 billion yuan in foreign investment last year.

The prefecture has well-developed transport facilities including the second largest airport in Xinjiang. The southern Xinjiang Railway makes the region more accessible, and this will be extended to western European countries during the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05). Moreover, telecommunications link the region more closely with the outside world.

(CIIC by Guo Xiaohong, 03/19/2001)