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Xinjiang: 70 years on

Updated: Nov 8, 2019 Print
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Editor’s Note:

Starting in May, the State Council Information Office has been organizing news conferences for each province, autonomous region and municipality to give briefings about their social and economic development since the founding of New China 70 years ago.

During the Xinjiang session held July 30 in Beijing, leaders from the autonomous region talk about Xinjiang’s development with reporters. [Photo/]

Economic Growth

The autonomous region’s economic aggregate has surged from 791 million yuan ($113 million) in 1952 to 1.2 trillion yuan in 2018, a 200-fold increase excluding inflation, achieving an average annual growth rate of 8.3 percent. Per capita GDP increased from 166 yuan in 1952 to 49,000 yuan in 2018, up by a factor of 37.7 with average annual growth of 5.7 percent.

After 70 years of development, the province’s comprehensive agricultural production capacity and modern equipment level have been greatly improved. Xinjiang has created the country’s largest cotton production base and led the country in developing agricultural mechanization and high-efficiency water-saving irrigation. It has also built a modern industrial system with a batch of new energy, new materials and equipment manufacturing enterprises at the world’s leading level.

People’s Livelihoods

The per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents increased from 319 yuan and 119 yuan in 1978 to 32,764 yuan and 11,975 yuan in 2018 respectively, with average annual increases of 12.3 percent and 12.2 percent. The condition of clothing, food, housing and transport of all ethnic groups has been significantly improved.

The autonomous region has focused on the deep poverty-stricken areas in southern Xinjiang and has achieved remarkable results in poverty alleviation. From 2014 to 2018, Xinjiang lifted over 2.31 million people out of poverty. The poverty rate in rural areas fell from 19.4 percent to 6.1 percent. By 2020, all people are expected to be taken off the impoverished list.

In the early days after the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, the enrollment rate of school-age children was less than 20 percent and the average life expectancy was only 30 years. After 70 years of development, nine-year compulsory education has basically covered the whole region. Southern Xinjiang has realized full coverage of three-year preschool education and 12-year basic education. A relatively complete medical prevention and healthcare system has been established across the region, and life expectancy has been extended to 72.35 years.

Thriving Tourism

Xinjiang is blessed with rich tourism resources, including exotic architecture and food. By the end of 2018, it had 12 national 5A-level scenic spots, 79 national 4A-level scenic spots and 132 national 3A-level scenic spots. The main attractions are Heavenly Lake, Tianshan Mountains, Kanas Lake in the Altay region, and Grape Valley scenic area in Turpan. It is regarded as a land of song and dance, melons and grapes, precious stones and carpets. Dwelling in the land for at least 2,500 years, the Xinjiang people are renowned for their honesty, kindness and open-mindedness towards outsiders.

The autonomous region has given full play to its unique tourism resources and the tourism industry has witnessed a spurt of growth. In 2018, more than 150 million tourists from home and abroad came to Xinjiang, an increase of 40.1 percent. In the first half of 2019, it received 75.89 million visitors, a year-on-year growth of 46 percent, and the number is expected to exceed 200 million in the whole year.


In recent years, Xinjiang has been striving to become the heart of the Silk Road Economic Belt and a key trade gateway to Central and West Asia by relying on its location and policy advantages. In 2018, the total volume of foreign trade hit $20 billion, 1,481 times higher than that of 1950.

In 2014, China identified Xinjiang as the core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt, and its construction has witnessed major achievements. Westward trains made 2,451 trips to 26 cities in 19 countries in Central Asia and Europe. Currently, it has opened cross-border renminbi business with 98 countries and regions. As for education, it has attracted 12,400 international students and established 10 Confucius Institutes in six neighboring countries. Besides, 29 hospitals in the region have established long-distance medical service platforms with 24 large hospitals in three neighboring countries.

The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, a beautiful land covering one-sixth of China, boasts brilliant culture and abundant natural resources. It serves as a significant channel for exchanges between the East and the West. The autonomous region has made great strides in raising living standards from what they were 70 years ago. [Photo/VCG]

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