When talking of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, people first of all will think of Gobi farmland. Now, after 50 years of hard work, Corps members have started making the transition from agricultural areas to urban sites. On January 19, the Corps announced the establishment of three cities: Wujiaqu, Alar and Tumushuke. After the Spring Festival, the Corps began construction of 38 key towns. A total of 650 million yuan in pre-construction funds are already in place.
At the beginning of the establishment of the Corps, most farms were established at the edge of the desert – short of water, roads, and electricity. For decades, the Corps has been self-sufficient in water conservation facilities construction, reclamation, afforestation, and road and bridge construction. After years of tedious effort, the XPCC has developed large-scale, modern agriculture featuring mechanization; and has created 11 listed companies engaged in modern industry and logistical business. In 2003, the ratio between secondary and tertiary industry exceeded 60%. The former pattern of simple agricultural development has been transformed. Rows of buildings replace shacks. More than 90% of residents now drink tap-water instead of reservoir water. Post offices, libraries, cultural centers and stadiums have been constructed; and television signals cover over 95% of the region.
Today, the Corps is accelerating the construction of small towns, taking a key step away from an agricultural society toward a modern society. Corps Development and Reform Commission director Xian Zheng said, “The 38 small towns are just like 38 torches illuminating remote areas. This can not only help the Corps step in to a new development stage, but also can accelerate the modernization process of Xinjiang. Therefore, it is of great importance to promote social stability and consolidate the border.”
According to the Construction Bureau of the Corps, the 38 small towns will be built on the premise of an “excellent ecological environment, functional accessories, industrial advantages and driving ability.” By 2005, the rate of urbanization by the Corps is expected to exceed 40%.