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Stability key to Xinjiang's development
2018-03-13 source:Chinadaily
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The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region maintained social stability and achieved healthy economic growth last year, Shohrat Zakir, the chairman of the regional government, said on Monday.

"Xinjiang people from all ethnic groups have a growing sense of happiness and security," he said in an exclusive interview with China Daily on the sidelines of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing.

Tourism is seen as a barometer of Xinjiang's stability and harmony. The region received more than 100 million visits from tourists in 2017, an increase of 32.4 percent year-on-year, he said. "The figure shows that stability is the precondition of development and the foundation of people's well-being.

"Maintaining social stability and long-term peace is the general goal of Xinjiang. As long as we carry out and push forward all work bearing that goal in mind, we can build a united, harmonious, prosperous and civilized Xinjiang," he said.

Northwest China's Xinjiang has always been the front line of China's battle against terrorism and separatism.

Xinjiang also made great accomplishments in its economic development in the past five years. It will focus on the quality of development in the future by improving agricultural productivity, pushing forward industrial reform and expanding the service sector, he added.

"The region's average annual GDP growth reached 9 percent in the past five years. What's more, Xinjiang's service industry has developed rapidly, making it the driving force of economic development, instead of solely relying on traditional industries to boost the economy," he said.

Furthermore, as the core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt, Xinjiang will be deeply involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative by further improving connectivity in Xinjiang, he added.

"The region will deepen cooperation with neighboring countries and enhance the level of its opening-up," Shohrat Zakir said. Xinjiang neighbors eight countries, including Pakistan and Kazakhstan.

Xinjiang will focus on the construction of the international land port in the regional capital of Urumqi and increase the operation of the China-Europe freight trains departing from Urumqi, making the services more regular and effective, he added.

Urumqi, which saw its first China-Europe freight train service in May 2016, now has three such trains daily. The trains can reach five Central Asian countries and 17 European countries.

Poverty alleviation, especially lifting people out of poverty in southern Xinjiang, is another major task.

Although 1.72 million people have been lifted out of poverty from 2014 to 2017, there are still 1.63 million people living in extreme poverty in southern Xinjiang, he said.

"We will focus on fundamentally solving the problems that restrain development in impoverished areas. The goal is to ensure all impoverished people are lifted out of poverty by 2020," he said.