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February 14, 2011

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Shanghai lends a helping hand to Kashgar

RESOURCE-RICH but economically backward Xinjiang is tapping China's economic power nationwide to gear up its development and improve its livelihood.

Just as cities around China pitched in and helped rebuild after the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, today they are also helping the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China's far west.

Cities are being teamed up and Shanghai is helping Kashgar, a famous city on the ancient Silk Road in southern Xinjiang. The area is rich in resources, scenery, history and legends. Tourism has great potential.

Around 50 Shanghai companies, mostly private firms, have signed contracts to invest around 20 billion yuan (US$3 billion) in the Kashgar area.

City businessmen have been quick to seize opportunities in the latest round of stimulus measures.

Xinjiang is China's largest natural gas-producing area. It's also rich in oil, coal, iron, minerals, agricultural land and water resources from its glaciers. It is in desperate need of infrastructure development, good jobs for locals, better education and health care.

Since last summer, more than 200 corporate delegations have visited Xinjiang, China's largest administrative region of 1.6 million square kilometers.

Shanghai is boosting development in industry, agriculture, infrastructure and public welfare in four counties in Kashgar: Yecheng, Zepu, Shache and Bachu.

Shanghai teachers and doctors are also being sent to Kashgar, which means "variegated houses" in the Uygur language.

The first direct flight from Shanghai to Kashgar was launched by China Eastern Airlines last August to facilitate assistance and communication.

Besides Shanghai, Shenzhen in Guangdong Province and Shandong Province are also supporting Kashgar.

The Shanghai government plans to invest more than 9 billion yuan over the following five years to improve infrastructure, hospital and health care facilities in Kashgar and build residential areas.

Residents of Kashgar are already benefitting from Shanghai's support.

"I got a subsidy of 500 yuan per square meter to expand my factory," said Memeti, owner of a private company processing packaged roasted chicken.

After his plant is expanded, he expects to create 100 jobs and the annual output is projected to be 65 million yuan.

Kashgar is famous for spectacular scenery, ancient architecture and colorful ethnic groups.

"I am thinking of how to attract more tourists to Zepu County to see the beautiful scenery here," said Chen Dongfa, a Shanghai official who made a trip to Kashgar last September.


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