Development in the Western Region over the Decade

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 11:13
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 Editor’s note: Implementation of the strategy for large-scale development of China’s western region has put the western region in the fast lane of sound and rapid development. Over the past ten years development has come to vast areas from the Beibu Bay to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, bringing improvement in everything from economic development to ecological conditions greatly benefiting the general public. The following articles should help readers picture the magnificent scene unfolding thanks to the large-scale development of the western region.

Sailing from the Beibu Bay towards the World at Large

Che Rongfu

 Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was made the permanent host city of the China-ASEAN Expo and the government has elevated efforts to open up and develop the Beibu Bay Economic Zone to a national strategy. The city has firmly seized the opportunities presented by these two advantages in the large-scale development of the western region to continuously open wider to the outside world. The GDP of the city reached 149.238 billion yuan in 2009, 5.18 times as much as that of 1999. Nanning was also awarded the “UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor Award” and the title of “National Civilized City.”

 Accelerated infrastructure development has increased the city’s capacity for urban development. Nanning’s infrastructure used to be very backward, with the whole city for a long time lagging behind the rest of the country in developing the transportation network. During the last decade, Nanning successively built, renovated, expanded or extended more than 200 roads, forming an urban road network of five east–west roads, three north-south roads, and four ring roads and effectively enhancing the city’s ability to serve as a major route to the sea and other countries. The city’s total length of highways is now 10,373 kilometers, which has greatly increased the overall traffic capacity.

  Visitors at the 7th China-ASEAN Expo 2010 held at the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region October 18, 2010. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Huang Xiaobang

 Nanning has opened wider to the outside world and developed a new platform for regional and international cooperation. Over the past ten years, we took the advantage of the opportunities presented by hosting the China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit to promote a great deal of development by greatly opening up the city and to gradually improve the mechanism for regional and international exchange and cooperation. The city attracted actual investment of 160.462 billion yuan of domestic capital and US$2.091 billion of foreign capital during the last decade. Foreign trade volume rose in the face of adversity in 2009, increasing 49.34% over the preceding year. Opening up has brought Nanning closer to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Burma, countries that have all set up consulates in the city, and more than 3,000 international students from ASEAN countries are now studying here.

 Close attention to ecological concerns has made Nanning a modern highly livable city. Special efforts were made during the last decade to increase the area of afforestation and improve the condition of streams, lakes and mountain areas. One, the campaign for “planting large numbers of trees and big trees” resulted in the development of a “100-kilometer forest belt around the city,” helping to establish the image of Nanning as “One of China’s Green Cities.” Two, conditions in 18 streams in the city were improved to create an urban landscape featuring a core river system with “unimpeded water flow, limpid lakes, green riverbanks and beautiful scenery,” making Nanning into “One of China’s Water Cities.” Three, urban planning emphasized preservation of the natural appearance of mountains in order to show off the beauty of the mountains and waters. We also worked hard on energy conservation, emission reduction and environmental protection, lowering sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand (COD) emissions by 0.5% and 4.1% respectively from the previous year, and increasing the number of days with good air quality to 362 in 2009.

 We have improved the people’s quality of life and carried out harmonious development. The local government regular budgetary allocations for items affecting people’s well-being, such as the social safety net, education, medical care and public health, culture and subsidized housing increased with every passing year during the last decade, reaching 3.39 billion yuan in 2009, 13.8 times more than that of 1999. These expenditures greatly benefited the local population. Between 1999 and 2009 the city created 617,400 new jobs for urban residents and controlled the registered urban unemployment rate within the target. The basic systems of unemployment, medical care, old-age pensions, worker’s compensation and maternity insurance have been improved, and the social safety net now covers all residents.

 Summing up Nanning’s development and opening up over the past ten years, we took advantage of four magic weapons to ensure success.

 One, we strengthened our awareness of opportunities and seized the initiative in development. The implementation of the strategy for large-scale development of the western region, particularly the introduction of a number of national support policies, provided Nanning with an unprecedented opportunity to make breakthroughs in infrastructure development, adjustment of the industrial structure, protection of the ecological environment and development of social programs. Only by knowing how to seize and make use of opportunities could we maintain the initiative in the course of development.

 Two, we did not wait for or depend on the help of others, instead taking the initiative ourselves. The people of all ethnic groups in Nanning have a glorious tradition of self-reliance and hard work. We actively made full use of the support policies for development of the western region, at the same time resolutely working to clear our minds of the passive attitude of “waiting for, relying on, or asking for the help of others” by creating the necessary conditions and working hard with a strong sense of urgency, thus shifting from “others demanding we develop” to “taking the initiative to develop” and “speeding up development.”

 Three, we opened up in all respects and enhanced our ability to make use of both domestic and foreign markets and resources. We opened up in all respects by establishing and continuously improving the platform for the China-ASEAN Expo, took advantage of both domestic and foreign markets and made full use of domestic and foreign resources to broaden and deepen our participation in the division of labor, cooperation and competition in international and domestic markets, and attracted a large volume of advanced elements such as capital, technology, talent and management experience, increasing our ability to participate in international economic cooperation and competition.

 Four, we gave a high priority to the protection of the ecological environment and carefully balanced environmental protection and economic development. Only places with a healthy ecological environment can become prosperous. We developed industries that take advantage of local strengths while taking into consideration the carrying capacity of local resources and the local environment. We strengthened all aspects of environmental protection, and integrated economic and ecological development by transforming the advantages of ecological resources into a competitive advantage in the market and transforming the economic value of the ecological environment into economic and social benefits. This is a win-win situation for economic and social development and the ecological environment.

Note: Author: Member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Committee of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Secretary of the CPC Nanning Municipal Committee


Large-Scale Development of the Western Region Bringing Prosperity to Local People

Nor Sang

  Carrying out the strategy for large-scale development of the western region has brought Tibet into the best ever period for social development in its history. The economy has maintained a growth rate over 10% for ten years running, the 2009 GDP broke through the 40 billion yuan mark for the first time and the per capita net income of farmers and herders maintained a two-figure growth rate seven years running. The past ten years was a period in which the general Tibetan public enjoyed unprecedented tangible benefits and improvement in the quality of life.

 According to an old saying, “It is more difficult to enter Tibet than to go abroad.” Old Tibet had no public roads, let alone railways or airports. The social and economic development of Tibet has seen steady progress since the area’s liberation thanks to the preferential budgetary support of the central government and the support of the people of the whole country. Three difficult issues of frozen soil in the plateau, severe cold and oxygen deficiency, and fragile ecology however, meant there were still no railways going into Tibet long after its liberation. It was the strategy for large-scale development of the western region that made the dream of the construction of Qinghai-Tibet railway come true and paved the “heavenly road to happiness” and prosperity for the people of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau area. The roads, railways and aviation facilities of Tibet have made great progress, and four airports have been built in Lhasa, Qamdo, Nyingchi and Ngari.

  A train on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway passes a village in the Tibet Autonomous Region on November 2, 2010. The beginning of operations of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway on July 1, 2006 gave a strong boost to the economic and social development of Qinghai and Tibet. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Wen Tao

 Improvement of the transportation system is only a microcosm of infrastructure development in Tibet. Total fixed asset investment for the Tibet Autonomous Region over the past ten years amounted to 187.5 billion yuan, including more than 110 billion yuan from the central government. Total government investment in the region during the Tenth Five-Year Plan period exceeded the total investment of the previous 35 years. During the first four years of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan period, the total fixed asset investment amounted to 117.5 billion yuan, 1.7 times as much as the 69.8 billion yuan of expenditure for the region during the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, an average annual increase of more than 16%. Time has shown that the principles and policies set by the CPC Central Committee concerning work in Tibet in the new period are completely correct and in line with the conditions of China and the fundamental interests of the Tibetan people.

 In addition to the rapid improvement of infrastructure in Tibet, the strategy for large-scale development of the western region has reshaped the economic structure of the region. The opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway led to the development of plateau tourism, which has benefited hundreds of thousands of Tibetan families. The number of tourists to the region increased dramatically from 686,000 in 2001 to 5.56 million in 2009. The large numbers of tourists entering Tibet has led to the rapid development of tertiary industry, including hotel and restaurant services, recreation and entertainment and retail outlets. People who had made their living by farming and herding for generations have started transportation and hotel businesses, resulting in the formation of an economic belt on the plateau along the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

 An even more beneficial achievement of the development of the western region on a large scale is the full play it has given to the pioneering spirit of the Tibetan people. People of all ethnic groups have become prosperous by relying on their own wisdom and hard work. Governments at all levels provided information and services for the people, built industrial parks, and distributed loans subsidized by the central government budget and guaranteed by labor administrations for people starting their own businesses. One Tibetan young man named Phenpu Tsering was one of those who have prospered thanks to these measures. He worked at a chicken farm after graduating from a school of animal husbandry and veterinary medicine in 2003, and then went back to his hometown in 2007 to set up his own chicken breeding business. It was the funding for project loans that helped him to overcome the difficulties he had in financing that made it difficult for him to expand the scale of production. He has also now set up a retail outlet to sell eggs and provide veterinary services.

 The strategy for large-scale development of the western region also led to a wave of support for Tibet on the part of the rest of the country. Large numbers of cadres from the rest of the country contributed their wisdom and hard work to the development of Tibet and the happiness of the Tibetan people. In July 2004, an investigation carried out by the newly arrived fourth work team from Fujian Province discovered that people in Sangsheng Village of Jinda Town, Gongbo’gyamda County in the Nyingchi region, have long suffered from Kaschin-Beck disease due to water and soil contamination affecting 39 out of the 101 people in the 24 households in the village. After learning of the situation, the Fujian Provincial Committee of the CPC and the Fujian Provincial Government made a master plan to address the situation by spending a large amount of money to move the whole village to an area near National Highway 318, where they built residential housing, a community center, greenhouses, a green belt and barns, which not only stopped the villagers from getting the disease, but also helped them on the way to a prosperous and happy life. With emotion in their voices, villagers have said, “The strategy for large-scale development of the western region has truly brought us good fortune!”

Note: Author: Member of the CPPCC Xigaze Municipal Committee, Tibet Autonomous Region


Red Soil Covered in a Lush Carpet of Green

Research Center for the Theoretical System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, Shaanxi Province

  Wuqi County in Shaanxi Province is a sacred place for the Chinese revolution. This is where the Red Army led by the Communist Party of China triumphantly completed the Long March in the 1930s. The implementation of the strategy for large-scale development of the western region rejuvenated Wuqi in a kind of “Green Revolution.”

 Since the initiation of the strategy for large-scale development of the western region, Wuqi County has been working diligently to achieve the strategic objective of the CPC Central Committee of “creating a beautiful natural landscape in the northwestern region” and follow a principle of “returning farmland to forests or grasslands, closing off hillsides to human activity to facilitate reforestation, contracting reforesting projects to individuals, and providing grain relief to make up for crop losses” by no longer allowing animal grazing on hillsides and energetically promoting penned sheep-raising rather than free-roaming raising. After 10-plus years of unremitting efforts, the former barren mountains have become clothed in a lush green carpet, with forest and grass coverage rising from 19.2% in 1997 to the current 62.9%, and the soil erosion modulus dropping from 15,300 tons per square kilometer to 5,400 tons, basically achieving the goal of “preventing soil erosion on hillsides and conserving water in rain collection ditches.” Over the last ten years the average annual precipitation rose from 478.3 mm to 582 mm, winds of force 5 or greater dropped from 19 to 5 times per year, the number of days per year with blowing dust and sand dropped from 31.6 to 6.5, and the number of natural disasters such as drought, hailstorms and frost has dropped by about 70%.

 The development experience of Wuqi County has provided a great example of an achievement that will benefit many future generations. Even more noteworthy is that this achievement provides a real example of sustainable development in a part of the western region with a fragile ecology.

  A panoramic view of Yan’an on October 2, 2010. Yan’an, Shaanxi Province took the lead in the country in 1999 in the implementation of the policy of “returning cultivated land to forests.” The city has converted a total of 8.82 million mu (588,000 hectares) of cultivated land to forested areas and was the first city in the country to convert cultivated land to forests. Total area returned to natural conditions in the city has increased from 42.9% in 1999 to 57.9% at present and the landscaped area was increased from 37% to 46% during the same period. Areas under measures to combat soil erosion have expanded by 12,000 square kilometers of land, increasing the proportion of recovered land from 20.7% to 45.5%. Yan’an has made a historical change in the overall hue of its landscape from “yellow” to “green.” / Photo by Xinhua reporter Tao Ming

 They freed their minds to promote development. The natural conditions of Wuqi County are not suitable for the development of agricultural production, especially grain production. It would be difficult to change the backward and impoverished conditions if the traditional production model were blindly followed. Confronted with these difficult conditions, Wuqi County took the development path of “reverse agriculture” by developing animal husbandry to make up for the loss of agricultural production to create a beneficial cycle of agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry so that they are mutually beneficial. First, animal grazing was banned on hillsides and sheep-raising in sheep pens was encouraged. They adopted appropriate measures to remove the presence of people and domestic animals from certain areas to repair environmental damage, resulting in the formation of large areas of natural vegetation on formerly barren hills and hillsides. Second, they returned all farmland on hillsides that was not suitable for growing crops to forests and expanded the area where vegetation was encouraged while preserving and developing basic farmland. Third, they began by planting grass on former grazing lands, then developed ordinary forests and timber forests, and developed an ecological forest as a “green bank” to improve the ecological environment for the benefit of the county and the people.

 They encouraged the participation of both cadres and the general public. Returning farmland to forests is an agricultural revolution being carried out in regions with a fragile ecology and backward economy. This not only represents a conflict between this state policy and the traditional concept of farmers, but has also created serious friction between the public interest and the material interests of farmers. The general public generally disapproved of the policy at first. Confronted with the perplexity and doubts among the people, Wuqi County focused on building a consensus and running demonstration trials to make breakthroughs, gave people detailed accounts of the advantages and disadvantages of free-roaming animal husbandry and breeding in confined pens, ran concrete trials, and called on cadres to “lead the people in carrying out the policy and letting the people see for themselves,” and to “carry out trials themselves and assume the risks involved.” As a result, farmers in the county gradually realized that the policy of “banning animal grazing on hillsides and raising sheep in pens” was necessary to promote a harmonious balance between human society and nature.

 They strictly followed a policy of working to create good ecological and environmental conditions. Wuqi County has tirelessly to carry out the policy of returning farmland to forests and grasslands to move towards improved ecological conditions for the benefit of the people. The county Party committee and government worked on this project through several terms of office, working from the same blueprint. During the last decade, Wuqi County carried out a policy of improving the ecological environment to benefit the county, developed ecology as an industry by substantially reducing the area of farmland and returning it to forests and grasslands to develop forestry and animal husbandry, which brought prosperity to the local people as farmland was returned to forests, a win-win situation that both repaired the ecology and developed the economy. Wuqi County has now introduced the concept of “Green Wuqi, Our Sweet Home,” and adhered to a new road of scientific development.

 They ensured that the progress already made was consolidated. Over the past ten years, Wuqi County continuously worked to consolidate the progress made in ecological improvement by adhering to a principle of “protection through development and development through protection.” Since 2003, they have been investing the capital accumulated through industrial development back into agriculture and actively working to integrate urban and rural areas. One, they combined efforts to return farmland to forests with the development of firewood forest, energetically developed new rural energy sources, mainly methane, and solved the problem of lack of firewood by making use of abundant local resources such as coal, oil and electricity. Two, they combined ecological improvement efforts with the development of a new socialist countryside, put 560 million yuan into the development of a new type of residential housing, and carried out relocation of people in unsuitable areas in accordance with a principle of relocating them “near water, roads and villages” to achieve the goal of “relocating households to protect the ecological environment of hillsides.” Three, while working to improve local ecological conditions they also worked to increase local incomes, energetically developed farming, livestock, poultry and aquatic breeding and the processing industry, strengthened the leading rural industries and promoted the development of downstream industries. Since the strategy for large-scale development of the western region was initiated ten years ago, the living standards of people in Wuqi County have improved significantly, a win-win situation for the country and the local population.

(From Qiushi, Chinese edition, No.15, 2010)

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