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West China Sees Superhighway Boom

China has made concerted efforts in recent years to construct highways in its western region. Weng Mengyong, vice minister of communications -- the ministry responsible for land transportation -- said that the total length of superhighway in the western region exceeded 7,000 kilometers as of the end of 2003, and would exceed 10,000 kilometers by the end of 2005.

In the country's northwest, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has a total of 86,000 kilometers of highways, according to the regional communications department.

The department reports that investment in highway construction has increased rapidly, from 3.0 billion yuan (US$360 million) in 2001 to 12.1 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in 2004.

Xinjiang built a total of 6,500 kilometers of highways in rural areas last year, adding 257 villages to the region's highway networks and benefiting 2.5 million people.

In October 2004, a 4,395-kilometer-long major national highway linking the New Silk Road to the Asian highway network was completed. This reduced the travel time from Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, to Lianyungang, a port city in eastern Jiangsu Province, from more than two weeks to just 50 hours.

During the next two decades, Xinjiang will be investing a total of 200 billion yuan (US$24.1 billion) to build up its major highway networks, culminating in what is called as the New Silk Road.

The total length of highways nationwide is now 1.9 million kilometers, and superhighways extend for some 34,200 kilometers.


(Xinhua News Agency, China.org.cn February 16, 2005)


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