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Xinjiang to Grow Fast
Special> Xinjiang to Grow Fast
UPDATED: June 5, 2009 NO. 23 JUNE 11, 2009
The Freedom to Prosper

At a mere mention of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, many Chinese may likely be reminded of a popular Uygur folk song eulogizing this vast bountiful land in the country's western frontier. 

But apart from its rich natural endowments, Xinjiang also takes great pride in its industrial development. The region has now been transformed from a predominately farming and animal husbandry base into an important regional industrial powerhouse. It embraces industries that include chemicals, steel, electricity, machinery, building materials, textile, food and medicines. The industrial output now contributes significantly to Xinjiang's economic strengths. Other local industries, such as mining, coal, petroleum and natural gas, have become strategic pillars for the whole country.

Thanks to the vigorous development of the primary and secondary industries, Xinjiang's economy has been considerably consolidated, culminating in 420.34 billion yuan ($60.8 billion) in regional GDP last year, 2 percentage points higher than the national average. In parallel with this economic takeoff, Xinjiang has seen a growing income and improved social welfare network for its residents over recent years. Local government figures indicate that per-capita income in Xinjiang reached the equivalent of $2,217 in 2008, better than many other administrative regions at the provincial level. By the end of 2007, enrolment ratio for local primary and high school students had reached 99.6 percent and 94 percent, respectively, medical services had been covered the entire region, and some 1.3 million residents had been provided with subsistence allowances from special government funds totaling 176 million yuan ($ 258,000).

These phenomenal changes in Xinjiang have largely been attributed to the preferential policies of the central government. For decades, Xinjiang has received huge amounts of fiscal subsidies and investments from the state coffers, and the central leadership has always given top priorities to key local projects designed to drive up local economic growth, improve infrastructure facilities, and enhance people's living standards.  

A more fundamental reason for Xinjiang's rapid development lies perhaps in the peaceful coexistence among different ethnic minorities there. A region inhabited by 13 major ethnic groups, including Uygur, Kazak, Tajik, Xibo, Uzbek and the Han people, Xinjiang has for centuries been a melting pot of eclectic lifestyles living harmoniously. This state of harmony in Xinjiang seems to have formed the cornerstone for Xinjiang's development and prosperity over the past and will hopefully continue to do so in the future. 



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