Home World News China Xinjiang achieves leapfrog development in opening-up

Xinjiang achieves leapfrog development in opening-up

Wind turbine blades are manufactured in a workshop of a new material company in Changji Hui autonomous prefecture, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. (Photo by He Long/People's Daily Online)
Wind turbine blades are manufactured in a workshop of a new material company in Changji Hui autonomous prefecture, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. (Photo by He Long/People's Daily Online)

By Sheng Yulei

At the Meilin Global Products, a bonded shopping center in Urumqi, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, a wide range of premium products from all over the world just dazzled shoppers. 

Zadul Turson, the operator of the bonded shopping center, just returned from a business trip to Hong Kong. The long journey didn’t consume too much of his energy. He told People’s Daily, “We need to seize the opportunity. I plan to open some 30 duty-free shops next year, so as to bring more duty-free products to communities.”

The “opportunity” he said was the recent establishment of the China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone. 

Whether a policy is favorable is evidenced by the market. In an international trade center of the Xinjiang Xiyu Light Industry Base, over 500 parking spaces were already occupied. 

An executive of the Xiyu Light Industry Base noted that the second phase of its cloud-based warehouse has been built this year, and over 300 merchants will settle in. It marked the third upgrade of the Xiyu Light Industry Base.

A Kazakh truck driver who has been transporting goods across the China-Kazakhstan border for seven years told People’s Daily that more and more of his friends have come to China for trucking because they want to “prosper together.” 

Projects have yielded fruitful results and logistics channels have become more efficient. What is this promising land relying on to create a new chapter in investment and business development?

The prosperity of Xinjiang, an important trading hub, in the old days, is displayed in a cultural exhibition hall of the Bakti port in Tacheng. 

Historically, Xinjiang has long been a key hub for trade and logistics between Asia and Europe. Geographically, it is adjacent to eight countries and is located in the heart of the Eurasian continent. In advancing high-level opening up, Xinjiang has unique geographical advantages. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has provided an excellent opportunity for Xinjiang to turn from a borderland in northwest China to a “thriving regional center.”

Economically disadvantaged regions must capitalize on historic opportunities and dedicated effort to spur transformational development. In recent times, Xinjiang has embodied a spirit of industriousness and bold experimentation. By spearheading construction of a central hub of the BRI, the autonomous region has secured substantial gains.

Since the launch of the China-Europe freight service, Xinjiang’s Alashankou port has witnessed the passage of over 30,000 trains, with the efficient operation of a “24/7” appointment-based customs clearance mechanism. The Horgos highway port has implemented a 24/7-passage-for-traded-goods trial, where vehicles only need to place an electronic card on a reader after declaring, and the clearance process can be completed in just 20 to 30 seconds. From 2013 to 2022, Xinjiang’s total import and export value increased from 170.81 billion yuan ($23.96 billion) to 246.36 billion yuan. 

The train whistles and the rolling wheels of trucks exactly mirror the surging vitality injected into Xinjiang’s economic development through deepening reform and opening up.

Pursuing transformation and upgrading, Xinjiang is seeking momentum from innovation. In a workshop of the Xinjiang Branch of Chinese automaker GAC Group, vehicles are rolling off the production line. At the gate of Sany Tacheng Wind Power Equipment Co., trucks loaded with wind turbine blades are ready to depart. 

In the first three quarters of this year, Xinjiang’s total foreign trade volume increased by 47.3 percent year-on-year. Among them, the exports of electric passenger vehicles, lithium batteries, and solar batteries surged by 61.5 percent from a year ago. These three items have replaced mechanical and electrical products, clothing, and footwear as the new hits of Xinjiang’s foreign trade, which reflects the high-quality development of the autonomous region.

This also suggests that in order to give play to the late starter’s advantage, it is necessary to adapt to the trend of high-end, intelligent, and green development, seize the enormous opportunities brought by the new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation, and strive to shape new advantages on the new track.

At the sixth China International Import Expo, a Xinjiang-themed promotion event attracted wide attention, which told the world that Xinjiang is no longer a remote corner but a core area and a hub. 

As long as Xinjiang leverages its unique geographical advantages, and harnesses the strength of openness and collaboration, it will definitely achieve even greater development.

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