Xinjiang progressing toward prosperous future

15:37, July 05, 2011      

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Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in western China will receive more than 10 billion yuan in financial aid from 19 provinces and municipalities designated as partners. This is part of Chinese central government's latest effort to boost the region's growth.

Furthermore, the central government will also provide economic aid, several times as much as the aid funds from the 19 provinces and municipalities, to the region through transfer payments, special funds and other channels.

The central government has offered strong support for Xinjiang's growth in many other aspects, including sending more than 1,600 competent officials to the region.

When people think of Xinjiang, the first word that comes to their mind is "distant." Xinjiang covers about one-sixth of China's total land area and is far away from almost all major cities in the Chinese mainland, with a distance between 2,000 kilometers to 4,200 kilometers.

A few years after the founding of the People's Republic of China, Kurban Tulum, a Uyghur farmer from the city of Khotan in Xinjiang, decided to ride to Beijing on his donkey to show his gratitude toward Chairman Mao Zedong. However, nearly one month after leaving home, he had not even finish crossing the Taklimakan Desert.

Xinjiang now has the most international road passenger and freight transportation routes, largest satellite communications network, longest optical fiber cable and power cable and most civil aviation stations among all provinces and autonomous regions in China, which have jointly made the region much easier to access.

Qiemo County is the farthest county in Xinjiang away from Urumqi, and the main means of transportation there in the 1950s was riding donkeys. It took a local resident more than 30 days to travel to Korla, more than 800 kilometers away. However, the flight between Urumqi and Qiemo, which has an intermediate stop in Korla, has reduced the travel time between Qiemo and Korla to tens of minutes.

"The yellow sand diffuses in the sky and big clastic rocks are seen everywhere," wrote Cen Shen, a poet during the Tang Dynasty, in one of his poems that described Luntai County in Xinjiang.

Xinjiang is further from the sea than any other area in the world and is known for droughts. Luntai County is located at the edge of the Taklimakan Desert, also known as the "Sea of Death." People can imagine how drought-prone the place is.

However, umbrellas have currently become hot consumer goods in shops of Luntai County. This miracle is related to the ecological environment improvement in Xinjiang in recent years. The growing green land at the edge of the Taklimakan Desert and the Gurbantunggut Desert has caught the attention of the United Nations Environment Program.

The enrollment rate of children in many remote areas of Xinjiang was relatively low in the past because of scattered residences and historical reasons.

The concept of "never neglect children's education regardless of how poor we are" is fully reflected in Xinjiang. The Chinese government first implemented the "two exemptions and one subsidy" policy and exempted all tuition and fees of compulsory education in rural areas of Xinjiang. The basic education of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang is experiencing a qualitative change under strong support from the government. It has become a consensus that "schools are the best buildings in prairie areas." Statistics show that the enrollment rate of ethnic minority school-age children in Xinjiang reached more than 97 percent.

People will never forget the "Muqam Battle" in Xinjiang 50 years ago. Muqam is regarded as the "living fossil" of the culture of western regions. However, Muqam has been inherited by oral teachings for a long time, and was on the verge of extinction before new China was founded. The Chinese government injected a lot of manpower and material resources to save Muqam. As a result, the "Xinjiang's Muqam in China" was listed in the third batch of the "Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" list by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Nov. 25, 2005.

Saving Muqam is just an example of Xinjiang in protecting and inheriting the cultures of the minorities. A great batch of traditional cultural treasures, including the "Uygur Daolang Maxrap," "Epic Manas," "Epic Jangar," "Epic Gesar" and "Kazak Sixty-two Khonger," have been successfully inherited under the national protection.

The Kashi, Hetian and the Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture located in the south of Xinjiang are the poorest places of Xinjiang. However, with the ongoing expansion of the West-East Natural Gas Transmission Project, more than half of the residents living in these places have been able to use clean energy, indicating that they have stepped into the natural gas era from the firewood era. In addition, other aspects of the lives of people living in the south of Xinjiang, including housing, education and medical care, have also improved tremendously.

"Music comes from all corners and even from Yutian. Our poets' zeal has never reached such a great height." These lines from Mao Zedong's poem "Replying to Mr. Liu Yazi" reflect the poet's high expectation for Xinjiang's future. The new round of support to Xinjiang will be implemented practically and a new Xinjiang with unprecedented prosperity will certainly turn into reality.

By Wang Huimin, a senior editor of People's Daily Overseas Edition, and the article is translated by People's Daily Online.

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