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Print Edition> Nation
UPDATED: June 17, 2011 NO. 25 JUNE 23, 2011
Helping Xinjiang Catch Up
Guangdong explores new methods to aid Xinjiang

COMING TOGETHER: Trade missions from Guangdong attend the Sixth Kashgar Central and South Asia Commodity Fair on June 28, 2010 (SHEN QIAO)

While China's eastern coastal regions bask in the glow of an economic boom following initiation of the reform and opening-up policy in 1978, inland Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region lags behind.

In March last year, the Chinese Government unveiled a partnership assistance program, designating 19 provinces and municipalities to support the development of Xinjiang.

As an economy with greater financial muscle, south China's Guangdong Province took the responsibility of helping the least developed Tumushuke City of the No.3 Division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and Shufu County and Jiashi County in Kashgar Prefecture, an important hub on the ancient Silk Road. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps is a unique economic and semi-military organization of 2.57 million people, with 14 divisions (reclamation areas), 174 regimental agricultural and stockbreeding farms, and 4,391 industrial, construction, transport and commercial enterprises.

Shenzhen, a boomtown in Guangdong, is paired up with Kashgar City and Taxkorgan County, pledging to provide aids of financing, technologies, talent and management expertise.

In April last year, an expert group of more than 150 members led by Wang Yang, Secretary of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee, made an on-the-spot investigation in Xinjiang.

On June 28, 2010, China's longest direct domestic air route was opened from Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, to Kashgar, making it the first direct air line between Xinjiang and a coastal province.

Last May, Guangdong formally started its partnership assistance program. On June 2 last year, the Guangdong aid headquarters was inaugurated in Kashgar by Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua.

"The partnership assistance will last 10 years so we should consider local leapfrog development and lasting stability," said Li Shuihua, head of the Aid Headquarters of Guangdong.

Starting from last June, Guangdong worked out a draft aid plan for over a three-month period. Consistent with the region's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) for economic and social development, Guangdong's plan contains 122 projects in eight categories.

At the same time, Guangdong invested 100 million yuan ($15.43 million) to carry out 10 pilot projects. In less than five months, the projects were completed and put into operation last November.

"This is Guangdong speed," said Li Ming, deputy head of the Aid Headquarters of Guangdong.

In 2011, Guangdong plans to invest 1.078 billion yuan ($166.34 million) on 73 livelihood projects in its partner regions in Xinjiang, to boost local housing and infrastructure construction, improve public services and create new jobs.

Usually, aiding provinces and municipalities make up most of their aid projects, ranging from design to construction. These projects, which are handed over to recipients in a ready-to-use condition, are known as "turn-key projects."

Different from this, Guangdong provides funds for partner regions and the latter takes charge of the construction of aid projects.

"The aid recipients must rely on themselves to realize sustainable development," Li said. "Through the new method, we can help cultivate construction personnel for these regions and lay a talent foundation for local economic and social development."

The efforts are not just about giving money, said Xiang Tianbao, an official with the aid headquarters of Guangdong. He said the method itself contained many complicated jobs, such as fund raising, project planning, worker training, as well as establishing management regulations and standards and project fund and quality supervision.

Guangdong is also trying to introduce its advanced development concepts and mechanisms to partner regions to help them optimize policy and market environments and reform economic management.

For example, Guangdong helped Shufu County set up an administrative service center, referring to the successful experiences of Guangzhou and Jiangmen.

The center has six divisions, including an enterprise service center, project agency center, government procurement center, land reserve and transfer center, investment evaluation center and construction project transaction center.

The "six centers" clustered the administrative and approval functions of the county's different departments together, having improved work efficiency and strengthened supervision on aid funds and projects.

On the aid work mechanism, Guangdong has also made some innovations. On February 22 this year, the aid team of Guangdong to the No.3 Division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps launched a program, arranging all 32 towns and neighborhoods in Guangdong's Dongguan City to pair up with the 15 farms of the division and offer aids.

Team leader Yin Huanming said the new working mechanism can enrich aid formats, broaden aid channels and help realize the target of all-round aid.

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