Editor's note: 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's 'reform and opening up' that opened the doors for a more prosperous China that helped hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens escape poverty as the nation had enjoyed rapid economic growth and development. CCTV.com takes a closer look at Beijing's comprehensive reforms with a series of special reports focusing on various fields where tremendous changes have taken place ever since the introduction of the policy.
China’s eastern region has enjoyed remarkable economic growth and rapid development since the reform and opening up policy that had been introduced by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping 40 years ago. Nevertheless, large swathes of western China remain underdeveloped with isolated villages and farmlands dotting the landscape.
China as a nation has boosted its nominal GDP (gross domestic product) to emerge as the world 2nd-largest economy and if high-annual GDP growth rates continue on, the country could surpass the US within about 20 years as the biggest economy in our world.
Yet, the imbalance between western and eastern China remains wide. Hence, Chinese officials when talking about the push for greater progress in Western China, describe the scenario as an eagle that has to have two strong wings to fly faster and higher.
In August this year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held a formal meeting with the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of Communist Party of China Central Committee to discuss new measures to boost economic growth in Western China.
Premier Li urged officials to focus on industrial upgrades, support entrepreneurship, innovations, while marching ahead on new construction projects to spur not only growth, but would give added incentives for migrants to return to their hometowns in order to reduce over-crowding and traffic congestion in Eastern China’s cities.
Despite the nation’s huge population and mega cities, much of western China stands under-developed and that means opportunities for property developers to urbanize this half of the nation.
According to the Website of China’s Foreign Ministry, China’s western region covers the provinces - Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, as well as the Autonomous Regions of Ningxia. Xinjiang and Tibet. Western China accounts for 56% of total land, but less than 1/4 of the nation’s population reside there.
However over 50% of all mineral resources can be found in Western China and plenty of energy, such as oil and natural gas reserves are still underground, especially in Sichuan Province and Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Building more power plants and adding to the transmission grid can spark the rejuvenation of Western China.
For investors, the region holds big market potential with strong labor power, abundant natural resources and low investment costs. Yet, logistics had been a challenge in past. But nowadays, Beijing has constructed more infrastructure, including new roads, highways, bridges, railways and airports to make transporting goods more efficient and faster.
Premier Li last month spoke about the new projects that are underway in Western China that includes the Sichuan-Tibet railway, power grids, oil and natural gas pipelines, fiber-optic IT cables and dams. By urbanizing the west that can upgrade education, health care and public services in the region.
You can expect to see more cities propping up in Western China, but it will not lead to catastrophic pollution levels, since government officials will promote eco-friendly and sustainable development to enhance basic sewage and trash disposal.
For those who have never visited Western China or unfamiliar with the region, you will discover lots of beautiful natural landscapes here. There are huge mountain ranges in southwestern China, Sichuan and Tibet, vast sweeping deserts in northwestern China while many other parts of Western China have good land and climate for farming and livestock production.