High-speed rail great boost to Xinjiang growth

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-5 23:38:02

The trial run of the first high-speed railway in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region started on Tuesday. This entire railway, connecting Lanzhou, capital city of Gansu Province with Urumqi, capital city of Xinjiang, is a milestone in Northwest China transportation.

This railway immediately triggered a public debate. Many voices speculate that it is part of a national strategy to consolidate unity of the nation and facilitate counter-terrorism efforts in Xinjiang, while some raise questions whether the railway is economically sustainable.

These questions and doubts make sense, but we must look at a bigger picture. The Lanzhou-Urumqi high-speed rail is a must for Chinese society.

This railway should be regarded as an infrastructure project. Xinjiang, a spacious region which accounts for one sixth of all China, cannot be excluded from the benefits of high-speed rail. This is the fundamental reason, more stable and firm than reasons like counter-terrorism.

This high-speed rail gives Xinjiang an impetus to be a standout region in the pan-Central Asian area. With the prospect of becoming a hub connecting Asia and Europe, Xinjiang's prosperity will boost the development of the whole Silk Road economic belt.

This line will probably face many problems at the initial stage when it goes into operation, such as high ticket price and high vacancy rate. But these costs must be borne if China wants stable and prosperous border areas. In some cases, the rules of the market will not be applicable to the management of borderlands.

For now, no matter how developed transportation vehicles can be, the distance between Xinjiang and the major areas in central and eastern China cannot be shortened effectively. The only option we have is to develop Xinjiang from a remote border region into the center of a pan-Central Asian area.

We are not daydreaming. Xinjiang has the potential to be the key to the rise of inland Asia. The geopolitical changes in Asia have put Xinjiang in an advantageous position.

Still a lot of people are too shortsighted when they observe Xinjiang, and the problems caused by this shortsightedness are consuming Xinjiang's energy. Some macro national strategies such as the Silk Road economic belt have yet to become a platform that can offer consensus to people from central and eastern areas and Xinjiang residents.

This Lanzhou-Urumqi high-speed rail offers a chance for both people in Xinjiang and people in central and eastern areas to have a far-reaching vision, which doesn't have to be hindered by terrorism.

Although this trial run cannot make headlines like terrorist attacks, its influence will be more profound and future-oriented.

Posted in: Observer

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