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China to Draw up Policies to Boost Development in Tibet, Xinjiang

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China will draw up policies this year to boost the development in Xinjiang and Tibet as well as other Tibetan-inhabited areas, Premier Wen Jiabao said Friday.

"We will focus on formulating and implementing policies for economic and social development in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Tibetan ethnic areas in Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces," Wen said in his government work report to the annual session of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.

But he did not elaborate.

The central government is preparing to hold a central work conference on Xinjiang in the first half of this year, which will make arrangements to realize fast development and lasting stability in the region.

Since last October, more than 500 officials from 64 departments concerned have been sent to towns, villages, sentries, schools and companies in Xinjiang to inspect local social situations and collect people's suggestions, amid efforts to study how to improve the livelihood of local residents and promote ethnic equality and unity.

Xinjiang is coming onto a fast track toward prosperity as the central authorities would intensively deliberate upon economic polices to benefit local people, said Ashat Kerimbay, chairman of the Xinjiang committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

The policies would be "very forceful" and target a broad sphere from infrastructure facility, fixed assets investment, opening-up and economic reform, social development and stability, and people's livelihood, he said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the CPPCC, the country's top political advisory body, in Beijing.

"Although the July 5 incident (last year) inflicted severe losses to the region, Xinjiang will embrace a period of fast development," he said.

China has also made plans to achieve leapfrog development and lasting stability in Tibet in a bid to ensure the nation's development as a whole, according to the fifth meeting on the work of Tibet held in Beijing from Jan. 18 to 20.

Chinese leaders said at the meeting that more efforts must be made to greatly improve living standards of the people in Tibet, as well as ethnic unity and stability.

At the conference, President Hu Jintao outlined the guidelines for social and economic development of Tibet in the next decade.

He said by 2020 the per capita net income of farmers and herds people in Tibet should be close to the national level.

Tibet's capacity to provide public service and infrastructure must also be comparable to the nation's average by 2020, through more government investment and better management.

Hu said agriculture, animal husbandry, tourism, handicraft industry, and resource development would enjoy more support.

In order to further improve the livelihood of Tibetan people, more government budget will go to public services, such as education, medical services, telecommunication, and social security network that covers both urban and rural residents.

During the meeting, senior leaders also meted out plans to develop Tibetan-inhabited areas in Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai.

The central government has invested 310 billion yuan (about US$45.6 billion) in Tibet since 2001, when the fourth meeting on the work of Tibet was held.

Local government statistics unveiled earlier this year showed that Tibet's gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to reach 43.7 billion yuan in 2009, up 170 percent from that in 2000 and posting an annual growth of 12.3 percent over the past nine years.

Authorities in Xinjiang said the region's GDP was expected to grow 8 percent to 427 billion yuan last year.

The achievements were made as both the two remote ethnic regions have been recovering from two deadly riots.

The riot in Tibet's regional capital of Lhasa on March 14, 2008 resulted in the deaths of at least 18 civilians and one policeman. It also left hundreds of civilians and police officers injured, businesses looted and residences, shops and vehicles torched.

The riot in Xinjiang's regional capital of Urumqi on July 5, 2009 left 197 people dead and more than 1,700 injured.

(Xinhua News Agency March 5, 2010)