Monday, February 20, 2017

China to pump over $24bn into Xinjiang road projects for better connectivity with Pakistan

DAWN - Feb 07, 2017

The Chinese government has decided to invest $24.8 billion (170bn yuan) into laying a highway network in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region for improved connectivity with Pakistan.  The autonomous region will use the funds this year ─ up nearly six fold from 2016 ─ for building roads so it can better serve as China's trade hub by linking countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt.  New infrastructure projects are also expected to bring more job opportunities for locals, the region's top economic planning official said.  The region has never seen such a huge investment in road construction, Zhang Chunlin, director of the Xinjiang Development and Reform Commission, said in an exclusive interview in the regional capital of Urumqi.  The region will also invest approximately $1.18bn (8.1bn yuan) in the construction of railways and $0.7bn (4.8bn yuan) in civil aviation projects, both up by 50 per cent from last year.  The investment in building roads, railways and airports this year will oustrip the total funding for transportation infrastructure from 2011-2015.