Some 40,000 kilometers of new highways will be constructed in the western regions of China this year, including 2,500 kilometers of express highways, according to Huang Zhendong, minister of Communications.
Emphasis will be put on national trunk lines, roads between provincial capitals and those linking county towns to provincial capitals. By the end of this year, asphalt- or cement-paved highways will extend from provincial capitals to almost all county towns in the western regions, Huang said.
The western regions cover 6.882 million square kilometers, or 71.7 percent of the country's land area. However, 52 percent of the express highways were in the eastern regions by the end of 2001. And express highways accounted for only 0.6 percent of the total highway mileage in the western regions.
In 2001, 260 billion yuan was spent on highway construction throughout the country, and expenditures in the western regions grew 23 percent over that in 2000, the highest annual growth rate in the past years.
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2002)