Several deadly terrorist attacks in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region last month attracted great public attention. Despite the attacks, the general situation in Xinjiang has remained stable since a major riot in Urumqi, the regional capital, on July 5, 2009. Encouragingly, Xinjiang has shown a promising trend of growth, which is essential to realizing lasting stability in the region.
Last year, Xinjiang's GDP reached 541.88 billion yuan ($83.37 billion). In the first quarter of this year, its GDP growth was 1.8 percentage points higher than the national average. A huge amount of funds have been invested in capital infrastructure. Fixed assets investment in Xinjiang totaled 350 billion yuan ($54.38 billion) in 2010 and is expected to exceed 620 billion yuan ($96.33 billion) this year. Efforts to improve people's living standards have also been intensified, with the implementation of 22 programs for housing construction, bilingual education, job creation, the building of social safety nets and other fields.
Due to its weak economic foundations, many people believed it would take Xinjiang quite a long time to narrow the development gap with eastern regions, let alone catching up with them. But, Xinjiang's achievements in recent years are laying the groundwork for realizing this unexpected result.
In May 2010, the Central Government set strategic plans for Xinjiang to achieve "leapfrog development and lasting stability," promising policies to boost the economy and greater investment in public services and livelihood programs.
Xinjiang is abundant in natural resources. Many of the 38 varieties of mineral resources found in Xinjiang rank among the top 10 in the country in terms of verified reserves. For example, Xinjiang's oil and natural gas reserves respectively account for 30 percent and 34 percent of China's onshore deposits, and its coal reserves make up 40 percent of the national total. Xinjiang is the first provincial-level region in China to carry out pilot reforms on resource taxation. Since the resource tax is locally collected and the Central Government has changed the volume-based resource tax to an ad valorem tax, Xinjiang's tax revenue and its ability to improve public facilities have increased greatly.
As a major trading hub in west China, Xinjiang has 29 land ports bordering eight countries. It has gained strong momentum from extensive economic and trade links with these countries.
More importantly, Xinjiang's development receives assistance from across the country. Just one year after the Central Government launched a "pairing assistance" program, 19 involved provinces and municipalities have already invested more than 3 billion yuan ($466.25 million) and carried out 150 pilot projects in the region.
This September, Xinjiang will host the First China-Eurasia Expo. It will offer a good opportunity for people to rediscover this land full of potential.