Now Is the Time for Rapid Development of XinjiangFollowing are excerpts of this report written by Our Staff Reporters Yan Quanxing and Chen Feiyu.
The report is capped by the Editor's notes which read in part as follows: On the eve of the 45th anniversary of the founding of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a delegation of journalists from six central information units went to cover news in Xinjiang. They all felt the vastness, beauty and wonderfulness of Xinjiang.
The autonomous region covers an area of more than 1.66 million square km, accounting for one-sixth of the Republic, and is inhabited in compact communities by 47 ethnic groups. It boasts ecological, scenic and folklore tourist areas. One can't have some ideas about the charm of the landscape of the motherland unless one goes to Xinjiang.
Xinjiang now enjoys an excellent situation featuring unity between nationalities, social stability and rapid economic development. The strategy for the large-scale development of the western regions, in particular, has brought Xinjiang rare opportunities for development. People of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang cherish an extremely strong desire for stability, unity, development and prosperity. Local people at the upper and lower levels, united as one, and in high spirit and with soaring working enthusiasm, have thrown themselves into the tidal wave of massive development.
Beginning from November 14, our newspaper will publish a series of reports on Xinjiang.
In the last year of this century, along with the implementation of the State's strategy for the massive development of the western regions, Xinjiang, as a vital point of China's economic development, particularly the economic growth in the next century, has once again become a hot region of concern to people both at home and abroad.
In the golden autumn season, these reporters came to Xinjiang together with the news-covering delegation of central information departments. At all times when they visited or passed through factories, pastoral areas, Tianshan Mountains and deserts, they all felt the rapid modernization process of this ancient, vast land before the arrival of the new century.
As Wang Lequan, Party secretary of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said that with the rapid development of infrastructure construction in Xinjiang in recent years, and the quickening of the pace of reform and opening up, the region has jumped from a closed inland region into the forward position of the reform and opening up, remarkable achievements have been gained in various fields of construction, thus placing the region in the quickest and best period of development in history.
Modern "Silk Road" Leads to Four Seas
As the world is dwindling, so is Xinjiang. Xinjiang people say so because the region's communications and telecommunications infrastructures have experienced rapid development in recent years. Staff of the region's planning commission told us that in recent years, the pace of the construction and transformation of the communications and telecommunication facilities here have been quickening, efforts increasing and grade rising.
During the Eighth Five-year Plan period, Xinjiang's fixed assets investments in communications and telecom facilities reached 8.824 billion yuan, topping the total investments made from the founding of New China in 1949 to the start of the implementation of the Eighth Five-year Plan; during the Ninth Five-year Plan period, the scale of investment will hit 35 billion yuan.
With the high-speed development of communications and telecom infrastructure facilities, the time has been shortened for journeys to various localities of Xinjiang. The high-grade highway from Turpan to Urumqi and Dahuangshan completed in 1998 is the region's first high-grade highway, as a result, travel in and out of Turpan has become very quick and convenient. The opening to traffic of the Urumqi-Kuidun Expressway, the first of its kind in the region, which involves an investment of over 5 billion yuan, has shortened the running time from 6-7 hours to some 3 hours. The time taken to travel from Xinjiang to the inland is also being shortened. According to the staff of the railway department, the immense raise of speed for railways in October this year will cut the time for travel from Urumqi to Beijing and Shanghai from 68 hours and 27 minutes and 74 hours to 48 hours and 51 hours respectively.
Xinjiang's aviation industry possess 59 domestic air routes and six international air lines. Wang Changlin, secretary of the Party committee of the Xinjiang Civil Aviation Administration, said that Xinjiang civil aviation completed the reconstruction of the Yili Airport in 1998 and the Karsh Airport last year. Reconstruction and expansion of other local airports are also being stepped up. The lounge of the Urumqi's Diwobao International Airport, which is four times larger than the existing one and involves an investment of over 500 million yuan, will be put into service very soon. By then, the Urumqi International Airport will remarkably raise its handling capacity and service level as well as its position as a key airport in domestic and international aviation service.
After several years of rapid development, Xinjiang's telecommunications modernization has currently equaled that in the inland. In the past, it was inconvenient to give phone calls in Urumqi. Now program-controlled telephones are available in 96 percent of the region's towns and townships and 52 percent in administrative villages. Handsets used in the inland are now also available here.
Urban Construction Gives Cities New Looks
The rapid rise of Kuerle City, the capital of the Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Beyinguoleng, is a representative and epitome of the rapid development of Xinjiang's urbanization in recent years. Only 10 years ago, Kuerle City was still dark and sheds and flats were scattered everywhere. The development of petroleum industry has provided a historic opportunity for the development of Kuerle. Today, more than 1,500 buildings tower in the city, and there are nearly 30 high-rise buildings of 20 stories, streets originally about 12 meters wide have mostly been broadened to over 36 meters, the widest one is 73 meters in width.
Kuidun in northern Xinjiang is another glittering city pearl. This small city with a population of only 100,000, possesses three parks, four squares and one sports center capable of accommodating 15,000 people. In recent years, Kuidun City, in compliance with the requirements of modern cities, has puts in over 37 million yuan annually for the construction of infrastructures, such as road building, greening and brightening the city.
At present, Urumqi has entered the ranks of modern cities. In a sea of more than 6,000 buildings tower over 100 70-meter high-rise buildings, with about 130,000 motor vehicles shuttling incessantly around them.
According to an official with the Urumqi Urban Construction Bureau, during the Eighth Five-year Plan period, Urumqi put in 1.5 billion yuan for urban infrastructure construction, 10.4-fold increase over that of the Seventh Five-year Plan period, surpassing the total invested in the first 40 years. The city has successively completed a large batch of key construction projects with the supply of water, heating and gas, and in bridge building and afforestation. Here, investment for urban construction this year will reach 1.37 billion yuan to be used in the large-scale reconstruction and expansion of Waihuan (outer-ring) Road, Renmin Road and South Heping Road.
Large and medium-sized cities have sprung up, and the construction of batches of county towns and townships is making rapid progress. Today, blocks of brand-new buildings have sprung up. Wenhua (Culture) Road, Yingmaili Road and two others have been widened to 40 meters, the county cultural square covering around 50 mu (15 mu = one hectare) has also been built. Construction of a number of modern buildings is being stepped up.
The Rise of Modern Enterprises
The Xinjiang Special Power Transformer Co. Ltd. is an example of modern enterprises developed in recent years. Twelve years ago, the predecessor of the company had only 158,000 yuan worth of fixed assets, while its debts reached 730,000 yuan. Today, the enterprise possesses total assets of 1.5 billion yuan and net assets of 0.9 billion yuan. Its leading products, transformers and power lines and cables are selling well in over 20 provinces and cities nationwide and fight their ways into seven countries and regions around the world.
The reasons for the company's success lie mainly in its quick reaction to the market and its top-rate technology and equipment. Last year, the company sold products worth 890 million yuan and reaped profits 90 million yuan. The company, however, did not rest content with these achievements. Beginning from the second half of last year, the company invested a total of over 100 million yuan in establishing radio, television and information networks companies limited in Shanxi, Xinjiang, Chongqing and some other places.
This year, it has again invested 130 million yuan in technological renovation on the basis of existing equipment and has joined Tsinghua University in undertaking the construction and operation of the "Xinjiang comprehensive information exchange platform project". It is reported that when completed, the project will greatly improve Xinjiang's investment environment and enhance the quick reaction capabilities of the government and enterprises.
The Xinjiang Dunhe Group Co. Ltd. switched its production from cement to tomato, with this main product being sold to the international market, Dunhe Company has purchased one US firm and one European company and has set up direct sales companies in Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the 11 factories set up under it have an annual production capacity of nearly 300,000 ton, an annual sales income of 1.36 billion yuan and profits of 180 million yuan. According to board chairman He Guipin, plans have been made to boost the industrial scale to 600,000 tons, total output to over 15 percent, and total trade volume to around 30 percent, of the world total in three to five years.
The Dushanzi Petrochemical Company, a Chinese petroleum enterprise in Karamay City, gives people an idea about the rapid development of Xinjiang industrialization and the beating of the pulse. According to Xu Fugui, the general manager and secretary of the Party committee of the company, his enterprise has had an annual processing capacity of 6 million tons of crude oil and production capacity of 140,000 tons of ethylene. Sources say that with the quickening of the process of reform and opening up, a large batch of "giant" enterprise groups have emerged in Xinjiang in recent years.
Statistics from an investigation conducted by the Xinjiang Statistical Bureau show that Xinjiang currently has 28 large enterprise groups each with total volume of assets and business income exceeding 500 million yuan each, their total assets have reached 33 billion yuan, distributed in the region's iron and steel, building materials, textile and other fields. They represent the highest level of Xinjiang's economic development, have helped further optimize Xinjiang's industrial structure and notably enhance its comprehensive economic strength and enterprise competitiveness.
Talking about the fundamental reasons for these major changes, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region said that "first of all we should thank the Party Central Committee and the State Council as well as fraternal provinces and regions for their energetic supports extended to Xinjiang over the past few years". He said that the all-out support from various quarters and the painstaking efforts made by cadres and masses of various nationalities in the region have created the glory of today's Xinjiang and paved the bright road leading to the new century.
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