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West China: Significant growth and development (2)
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10:47, September 17, 2009

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Liu Honglian, a woman in Tongnan County, is on her way to visit relatives in an urban district of Chongqing. Her car runs on a spacious and flat expressway and reaches the destination in less than one hour. She said that over 10 years ago, if she wanted to go to the urban district, she had to leave home at 3:00 am, and that travelling for dozens of kilometers on a narrow, winding and steep road took 5 to 6 hours or even a whole day.

"Significant improvement in transportation" is the most noticeable transformation in west China. People used to say that "travelling along the narrow paths of ancient Sichuan is more difficult than climbing up to heaven." However, Sichuan is now crisscrossed with expressways. In 2008, 216,000 kilometers of roads across the province were put into service, including 2,162 kilometers of expressways, ranking third in west China. Of those, 205,500 kilometers are rural roads.

Guizhou is the only province in China that has no plain. "It is more difficult to travel along the roads in Guizhou than in Sichuan" is a popular saying there. Nowadays, the traffic mileage in Guizhou stands at almost 50,000 kilometers, and expressways leading to neighboring provinces in the south, north, east and west of Guizhou have all been put into operation.

In 1949, although Qinghai had 3,143 kilometers of roads, only 472 kilometers were barely accessible to automobiles. In 2008 however, prefectures, counties, townships and towns in Qinghai Province all had access to roads, 76.9 percent of townships and towns had access to tarmac roads and 62.03 percent of administrative villages had access to roads. The backbone road network composed of "two vertical and three lateral roads and three sections of national roads."

Aside from roads, railway, aviation and other transportation sectors have also developed rapidly. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Sichuan's Suining-Chongqing Railway, the first high-speed railway in west China, have been successively put into service.

In Shaanxi, a transportation network integrating aviation, railway, expressway and other types of roads is taking shape. The Lanzhou-Chongqing Railway currently under construction will be a fast and convenient channel connecting northwestern and southwestern regions.

In Guangxi, there are 39 berths of above 10,000 ton-class, and the mileage of navigable inland rivers has reached 5,591 kilometers. The framework for a southwestern channel to the sea has generally taken shape. The construction of great international routes is accelerating.

In the Nujiang area of Yunnan, overhead cable, which once served as a main means of travel, is now an activity for tourists. To date, Yunnan Province has 12 civil airports in operation and while travelling within the province once took several days, now it takes just one to two hours by air.

The urban traffic of western cities is also in the process of comprehensive upgrade. In Chongqing, reporters traveled on the light rail Jiaoxin Line to experience China's most unique track traffic: the train passes through a bustling downtown area; running alongside river banks, then enters a tunnel through the mountains. At present, the construction of railways in Chengdu and Xi'an are progressing actively, and construction of a railway in Kunming will soon start.

Energy infrastructure in west China is comprehensively improving.

The West-East Gas Transmission Project has started to supply gas, and the West-East Electricity Transmission Project is also under way. The Longtan Hydropower Station in Guangxi and the Baise Hydro Junction, two landmark projects in the Great Development of West China, have been completed and put into operation, becoming an important supporting source of power for the West-East Electricity Transmission Project. Over the past decade, Sichuan has increased installed capacity of power generation by 19 million kilowatts, and large-scale hydropower stations such as Ertan and Zipingpu have successively been completed. At the end of 2008, total installed capacity of power generation across the province reached 35 million kilowatts and that under construction exceeded 30 million kilowatts.

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