On September 21 and 22, the sino-us.com reporter joined an overseas Chinese media delegation to visit Kashgar City, the administrative center of Kashgar Prefecture of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. During the two-day trip, the reporter witnessed the traditional culture of the old town in Kashgar and was inspired by an encouraging development blueprint of building a brand new modern city zone.
With a population of 4.1 million people, Kashgar Prefecture boasts a unique cultural mix, fusing Indian, Persian, Arabic, ancient Greek, ancient Roman and Han cultures. The region borders Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and India, further consolidating its position as an economic and trade center in far western China.
As a place where ethnic Uygur characteristics gleam, Kashgar, a city with a history of more than 2,000 years, was historically considered as the gateway and hub for the transfer of goods from China to Central Asia and Europe along the ancient Silk Road.
You will never experience a real Xinjiang if you do not pay a visit to Kashgar, an old saying goes. As a famous state-level historic and cultural city, Kashgar preserves the most complete Uygur culture, art and architecture, compared with other places in Xinjiang, because over 90 percent of the residents in Kashgar are Uygur people.
A sand table shows a brighter future of a new and modern Kashgar city. Photo: Ding Yi/Sino-US.com
Despite being a relatively underdeveloped region, the government of Kashgar Prefecture has never stopped its effort to accelerate the economic development and modernization of the region.
With the help of the CPC Central Committee, the State Council, the Party Committee and the government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and some supportive inland provinces and municipalities, Kashgar Prefecture has made great achievements in promoting economic growth and stabilizing social security, with GDP jumping 15.6 percent in 2011 from a year earlier. The total volume of imports and exports reached 1.279 billion yuan and the income from tourism amounted to 1.35 billion yuan in 2011.
In 2010, the central government of China appointed the provinces of Shandong and Guangdong, and the cities of Shenzhen and Shanghai to step up their support of Kashgar Prefecture’s development in “pairing assistance” projects. Meanwhile, it also approved a proposal of setting up a special economic zone in Kashgar.
The “paring assistance” projects serve as a major contributor to Kashgar Prefecture’s industrial restructuring, resource transformation, revenue enhancement and employment generation. In 2011, a total of 303 “pairing assistance” projects were carried out in Kashgar Prefecture, with total investment of 6.6 billion yuan.
Depending on its unique geographic advantage, the local government is striving to build a special economic zone in Kashgar, offering a great boost to the economic cooperation and cross-border investment between Kashgar and Central and South Asian countries. The establishment of the special economic zone will enable Kashgar to look toward the west for foreign trade, resource exchange and investment opportunities.
Currently, the local government is concentrating on constructing the prefecture’s railroad and highway networks as part of efforts to effectively connect Kashgar with major cities in Central, Western and Southern Asian countries and to better promote the strategic collaboration with these neighboring countries.
Shandong Province is appointed to help Kashgar build a steel plant. Photo: Ding Yi/Sino-US.com
A sand table shows recent major construction projects in Kashgar city. Photo: Ding Yi/Sino-US.com