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The western part of China is home to one-third of the country's administrative provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. It covers an area of 5.4 million square meters and has a population of more than 280 million, accounting for 56 percent and 23 percent of the national total, respectively.

The region includes six provinces (Gansu, Guizhou, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan and Yunnan), five autonomous regions (Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Tibet and Xinjiang), and one municipality (Chongqing). Compared with the rest of China, the region lacks transportation facilities and lags behind in terms of development. The region's GNP per capita accounts for just half of the average national level. However, it boasts vast stretches of land, abundant resources and beautiful scenery.

On June 17, 1999, former President Jiang Zemin put forth guidelines to accelerate the west's development. He stressed the importance of coordinated development between all areas, including the population, resources, environment, economy and society. He also stressed that development should be achieved in steps through domestic and overseas capital as well as technical personnel.

On March 5, 2000, then-Premier Zhu Rongji stated in a government work report that developing the west is of great significance to China’s domestic demand and promotes sustained growth of the national economy, resulting in a common prosperity for all.

(China Development Gateway December 23, 2009)


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