Foreign investment expected to boost restive Xinjiang

09:08, June 28, 2010      

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The government launched an initiative to draw foreign investment into the Xinjiang Uyghur Au-tonomous Region nearly a year after deadly riots rocked the capital city Urumqi, China News Service reported Sunday.

The State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) said in a statement that the foreign investment would be injected into almost every sector: manufacturing, agriculture, technology and the service industry.

Xinjiang has a population of more than 20 million people, including around eight million Uyghurs, an ethnic Muslim minority.

Xinjiang has been the site of simmering unrest for a number of years.

Thousands of people were injured and hundreds killed in riots that broke out in 2008 and again in July and September of last year.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government issued plans to invest $1.5 billion into 82 cities and towns in the country's western areas, particularly Xinjiang, to develop local housing, employment and education.

The government is hoping that the $1.5 billion plan will help ease conflicts and ward off potential unrest.

In March, a series of policies aimed at boosting economic growth and social stability was introduced after the Xinjiang Work Conference, which was chaired by President Hu Jintao, a sign of the significance of the region to the central government.

Xinjiang will be injected with more than 10 billion yuan ($1.46 billion) in economic aid next year from 19 provinces and municipalities designated as partners, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

On June 1, Xinjiang levied a 5 percent resources tax on oil and natural gas mining, up from the original 1 percent, which will send an additional 5 billion yuan ($732 million) in tax revenue to the regional government's coffers.

Kashgar, an ancient Silk Road trading post located in western Xinjiang, has been singled out as an economic development zone meant to increase trade with nearby Central Asian nations.

The central government said last month that it will double investment in the farflung region and raise its per capita gross domestic product to the national average by 2015.

Investment in the autonomous region from 2011 through 2015 could run to 2 trillion yuan ($293.6 billion).

Source: Global Times


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