Naveed Aman Khan
XINJIANG is the frontmost region of China’s westward opening-up, an important energy base and transport channel of China, a core zone of Silk Road Economic Belt, a major farming and pasturing resource region , a concentrative zone of ecological resources and important biodiversity cluster, and a treasure of rare metals in China. Under the great support of China’s central government and through the joint efforts of Xinjiang’s people of various ethnic groups, Xinjiang presents a pleasing situation of booming economy, ethnic solidity, well-functioning govt and harmonious people across the whole region. One never realizes the bigness of China without visiting Xinjiang. Covering an area of 1.66 million square kilometres, Xinjiang accounts for 1/6 of Chinese land acreage, three times of French land area and is a neighbour of Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It is the provincial administrative zone with the biggest area, the highest number of neighbouring countries and the longest land national boundaries in China. Along its 5,700km boundary there are 18 ports. An all-round opening-up layout along the boundary, the Eurasian Land Bridge and the transport arteries to international and domestic destinations has preliminarily taken shape.
Xinjiang is home to people from 56 nations, including 13 permanent ones, such as the Uygur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Kirgiz, Mongolian, Tajik, Xibe, Manchu, Uzbek, Russian, Daur and Tatar. Xinjiang has a population of over 24.8 million, and more than sixty per cent of which are from ethnic groups. Xinjiang has diverse cultures. Xinjiang is the place where four major cultures meet with one another. Famous Chinese scholar Ji Xianlin said, “In human history, there are only four far-reaching and time-honoured cultural systems, i.e. Chinese, Indian, Islamic and Greek-Roman. And there is only one place where the four cultural systems meet with on another. It is Xinjiang of China.” American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan said, “Xinjiang is the cradle of world cultures and key to world’s four major civilizations”.
The region’s special geographical location enables the coexistence, collisions, co-prosperity and reproduction of diverse cultures to form a Xinjiang-featured integrated, diverse and open modern culture as an important part of Chinese culture. Xinjiang has followers of diverse religions including Islamism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Catholicism as well as historical Manichaeism and Shamanism. Buddhism was introduced to China from Xinjiang at the initial time. Freedom of religious belief is a basic right of Chinese citizens endowed by the Constitution of China. Xinjiang, boasting characteristic, colourful, time-honoured and profound ethnic cultures, is a famous home of songs and dance of China. The local govt has invested considerable funds to protect and promote outstanding cultures of ethnic groups. Twelve Muqam is inscribed on the world Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Manas, Jangar and The Epic of King Gesar, are collectively called three most famous epics of China’s ethnic groups.
Xinjiang boasts abundant natural resources. Its glacier reserve is 2.13 trillion cubic meters, accounting for 42.7% of China’s total; its farming, forestry and pasturing land acreage is 1 billion mu, accounting for more than 1/10 of China’s total; its annual average sunshine duration is 2,600~3,400 hours, ranking the 2nd among Chinese provincial administrative regions. Xinjiang boasts a variety of minerals with great reserves. A total of 142 minerals has discovered, accounting for 82.02% of all minerals discovered in China, including 96 minerals with resource reserves, 13 minerals ranking the 1st in terms of reserves, 56 minerals ranking the top 5 in terms of reserves, and 77 minerals ranking the top 10 in terms of reserves among Chinese provincial administrative regions.
The proven accumulated geological reserves of petroleum and natural gas are 5.909 billion tons and 2.54 trillion cubic meters in Xinjiang, respectively. Its coal possible reserve is 2.19 trillion tons, accounting for 40% of China’s coal possible reserve. Xinjiang has competitive agriculture. Its tomato production accounts for 25% of global total. Its hop production and cotton production account for 70% and 84% of China’s total, respectively. Xinjiang features complicated landforms, wild natural views, and unique landscape combinations with infinite charm, such as the renowned scenic spots the alpine Tianchi Lake, the fairyland Kanas, the green corridor Turpan Grape Valley and the Narat Prairie in the air. The southern, northern and central arteries of the 5,000 km-long ancient Silk Road are dotted by hundreds of ancient cities, tombs, reclamation sites and other humanistic landscapes, presenting wonderful natural views and profound cultures. With the special concern of the Central Government and the great support of relevant Ministries and Commissions as well as provinces and cities for paired aids, the CPC Committee and People’s Government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region lead the cadres and people of Xinjiang’s ethnic groups to emancipate the mind, grasp the opportunities, work hard and bring earthshaking changes to the region. Now, Xinjiang enters the period with the best and fastest economic and social development, the notable improvement in livelihoods, and the most benefits enjoyed by the people of ethnic groups. Visionary President Xi Jinping has decided to develop and modernise this province in particular. For this high objective China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is initiated. China has invested US $ 64 billions on this gigantic project.
Xinjiang’s economy develops with each passing day. With the great support of the Central Government, Xinjiang has completed a number of infrastructural and basic industry’s projects significant to its overall and long-term development in recent years. In 2018, Xinjiang’s GDP reached 1.22 trillion Yuan, more than 200 times of that in the initial years of the People’s Republic of China. Xinjiang’s industrial economy rapidly grows up, presenting an obviously optimized economic structure with agriculture as the basis, industry as the dominant force and service with the biggest share. With the start and completion of a number of transport, water conservancy, energy and telecommunication projects, the infrastructures and the production and living conditions of urban and ruralite residents of Xinjiang are experiencing historic changes.
By the end of 2018, Xinjiang had a railway mileage of 5,959km, expressway accesses to all its prefectures and cities, highway accesses to 99.74% of its administrative villages, 21 civil airports and opened subways in Urumqi, the 2nd subway city in northwestern China. So far, Xinjiang has set up a transport network integrating aviation, railway (high-speed railway, subway) and highway transport. Presence of US warships Aircraft carriers in the Gulf and Oman Sea is enough to hinder the ways and means of prosperity and development of Pakistan and China. India stands with US against Pakistan and China to detain and derail China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Indian Premier Modi and US President Trump are the merchants of death and destruction while Chinese President Xi Jinping is the torch bearer of life and prosperity.
— The writer is book ambassador, columnist, political analyst and author of several books based in Islamabad.