Xinjiang to set up two special economic zones in 2011

15:59, February 14, 2011      

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As a part of plans the announced by the central government last year to spur economic growth in the Xinjiang region, Kashgar, a pivotal freight station in western Xinjiang, and Huoer Guosi have been chosen as the home of planned special economic zones (SEZ) modeled on Shenzhen.

Deputy Commissioner of Kashgar Prefecture, Wang Yongzhi, says Kashgar felt the effects of these plans even before any official announcement. The yearly Kashgar Fair sold out its 1,200 booths, and while organizers planned to offer Shenzhen city 40 of those, they had applied for 200.

At this time, Kashgar does not have enough hotels to accommodate this much interest.

Zhou Yongkang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPC, visited Kashgar in February last year and said that the central government would make the city a SEZ and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) identified Kashgar as a "key pilot area to be opened and developed" in May.

Du Ying, deputy director of the NDRC, said that Kashgar will enjoy preferential policies in addition to becoming a comprehensive reform experimental zone. The 50-square-kilometer SEZ will not only boost the city's economy and increase its population to 1 million, it will also drive the economies of the surrounding cities and counties.

Kashgar connects the middle and south roads of the Silk Road and has been an important international business town since ancient times. With a borderline of 888 kilometers and four entry ports, it connects China with six neighboring countries, including Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and India, creating an international market with a population of 1.3 billion.

However, outdated equipment and underdeveloped infrastructure have greatly reduced the working efficiency of Kashgar's ports. The central government plans to remedy this situation with comprehensive examination of equipment and improving the rail system.

There will be new railway connections linking China with Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan that will provide China with an opportunity to gain a greater share of the Central Asian market, Wang Yongzhi said.

Currently, the central government has exempted enterprises in Xinjiang from corporate income tax for two years and they will only pay half of the required amount in the following three years.

Wang Ning , director of the Xinjiang Social Science Academy's economic institute, has estimated that, if the central government doubles its investment in Xinjiang in the 11th Five-Year Plan, as is intended, that will be a 2 trillion yuan investment in the local infrastructure or 400 billion yuan each year from 2010 to 2015.

Currently, the GDP of the whole Xinjiang region is only 427 billion yuan.

The central government has also planned to invest 50 billion yuan from 2009 to 2013 to build 13,000 projects in the Kashgar region. Guangdong Province, designated by the central government as a partner assistant of Kashgar, will arrange 9.6 billion yuan in aiding the region from 2011 to 2020. The "partner assistance" program matches developed regions with the least developed areas to help them and improve living standards.

By People's Daily Online
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