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China builds new freeway connecting to Central Asia
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Construction has begun on a freeway that will form a key part of a Central Asia highway network between Korla and Kuqa, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The section of China's No. 314 national trunk road was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, said an official from Xinjing Uygur Autonomous Regional Bureau of Communications.

The four-lane freeway would cover 296.5 km at a budgeted cost of 4.02 billion yuan (US$503 million).

The Asian Development Bank will lend 150 million dollars and the central government will pay 1.5 billion yuan (US$187 million), while the rest is met by local governments.

Construction would take three years to complete and the road would be open by 2010, said the official.

The freeway was expected to promote economic growth and trade between China, and central and western Asian nations and even Europe, he said.

In a comprehensive initiative on economic cooperation in Central Asia, the ADB listed the Korla-Kuqa freeway as a key investment project for the 2006-2008 period.

The bank provided US$600,000 early last year to finance technical preparations, the bank's first investment project in Xinjiang, which included project design and assessment, and personnel training.

International loans have become a main financing source for the construction of road networks in Xinjiang, China's largest region by area.

The World Bank had provided US$600 million for building roads and upgrading rural roads in the region by the end of 2005.

National Trunk Highway 314, with a length of 1,880 km, goes from Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, southwards across Mount Tianshan to meet Kunjirap, a land port on the China-Pakistan border.

(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2007)

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