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Building the West Anew> Backgrounder
UPDATED: January 19, 2010 NO. 3 JANUARY 21, 2010
The PLA's Contributions to Developing West China

Since 2000, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has supported the Central Government's Western Development Strategy.

PLA engineering teams focused on key infrastructure constructions concerning transportation, water and power supply, telecommunications and energy. Major projects included the west-to-east natural gas transportation network, 5,700 km of highway construction and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

Soldiers also participated in environmental improvement efforts by building shelter forests in the northern part of the country, restoring the eco-balance in the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the Yellow River, and creating 1.97 million hectares of new forests.

As part of poverty relief efforts, soldiers dug 1,014 wells for residents in water deficient regions, built 17,383 poverty liaison stations and constructed 2,125 new villages. About 674,000 people were lifted out of poverty by the PLA's relief work.

PLA experts held training classes and provided technical services to local governments and people in the western

To assist the Three Gorges Dam projects, the PLA sent more than 800 army engineers to resolve engineering and mechanical problems in the plateau's hydropower stations, saving more than 2 billion yuan ($292 million) in government investment.

Many new schools in the region were built with PLA donations. In the western area, the PLA and armed police donated 1.1375 billion yuan ($166 million) to poverty-stricken people, building 1,582 elementary and middle schools and providing financial support to more than 185,100 students. After the Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008, the PLA raised 1.075 billion yuan ($157 million) to allow earthquake-hit children to attend schools.

Medical and health conditions in poverty-stricken areas have seen marked improvement thanks to PLA efforts. Since 2000, the PLA and the armed police gave financial aid to 159 county-level hospitals, trained more than 64,000 doctors and nurses, and donated 4,660 pieces of medical equipment.

Together with relevant government departments, the PLA general staff headquarters approved the opening of 26 districts and counties in the western region, upgraded 27 aviation management centers, and extended 22 military airports for civilian use.

Soldiers also participated in the construction of tourist sites, such as the sites of revolutionary events, battlefields and museums.

The PLA and armed police also strive to maintain stability in the western region, building more than 10,000 km of border defense roads and installing 250 border alarm monitoring systems. The PLA has stood firm in the fight against terrorist and separatist activities and guards against potential border disputes to secure a stable living environment for the residents in the western region.

In the last decade, soldiers have actively contributed to emergency and disaster relief efforts—a large number of PLA soldiers were sent to assist western region residents after floods, earthquakes, fires, blizzards, and droughts struck China's interior.

(Source: Leading Office of the PLA's Participation in the Western Development)

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