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Ecological Improvement: Hope for Poor

The Taxkorgan county, located in the Tadzhik prefecture of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has scientifically tapped ecological resources to develop the local economy.

"The on-going west development strategy offers great opportunities for us to develop the local economy. However, having learnt from some developed countries which have put great efforts into the development of the economy while ignoring ecological protection, we now regard ecological protection as a prerequisite for any economic development", said Liu Jun, deputy secretary of the county committee of the CPC.

With an area of 25,000 sqare km, the county is located on the Pamir Plateau with an average elevation of over 4,000 meters. Harsh natural conditions have caused suffering to the 32,000 residents who for decades have lived in impoverishment.

In recent years, the local government invited environmental experts from Beijing and Urumqi to evaluate its ecological resources to construct a balanced plan to boost the sluggish economy while not destroying the ecological environment.

After careful research, the experts said that as the county boasts rich water resources tapping and produce mineral water, hot spring water and glacier water are good ways for the county to develop an ecologically friendly economy.

Records show that the county, located between Qogir Feng with an elevation of 8611 meters and Muztagata mountain, the "father of the glacier", could tap ten million tons of glacier water, 300,000 tons of mineral water and 100,000 tons of hotspring water annually.

Experts said that with rich mineral elements, the water could help sufferers from diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

So far, some companies from domestic and overseas have shown great interest in the area's water tapping. Many have signed contracts with the local government to jointly tap the rich water resources.

The tourist industry is another development focus. The snow-capped mountains, magnificent glaciers, clear skies and ancient " Silk Road" have attracted a large number of tourists.

Statistics show that since 1995, the number of tourists has increased at an annual rate of 12 percent. In 2000, the total number of tourists reached over 80,000 who were mainly from Pakistan, Japan, France, Germany and other provinces of China. Liu said that in order to ecologically protect the plateau, the local government has planned to resettle 10,000 herdsmen to the plains in the coming five years.

So far, 1,250 herdsmen and their families have been resettled.

The picture above shows the majestic image of the Muztagata mountain, which is also called "father of the glacier".

(People's Daily January 18, 2002)

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