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New boom set for trading hub
Date:2010/6/25      View:1138
Kashgar is set to become an economic development zone (EDZ), as part of government efforts to transform the city into a prosperous trading post for China's Central Asian neighbors.

Authorities have announced they will introduce preferential investment and taxation policies to boost investment in this ancient city in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which borders Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

"After detailed research, the central government has decided to build an EDZ in Kashgar," Wang Yongzhi, deputy commissioner of the governing prefecture (also called Kashgar) and the man in charge of the area's economic development, told .

"None of the policies will be finalized until the end of this year at the earliest," he said.

The EDZ is also expected to ease the high unemployment rate in the prefecture as well as improve trade links.

However, due to rumors circulated throughout the city since May, when the central government hosted its first working conference on Xinjiang in 60 years, most residents believe Kashgar is about to become the next Shenzhen - China's first and arguably most successful special economic zone (SEZ).

"We're going to be the next Shenzhen," said 30-year-old taxi driver Abula Mijit excitedly as he drove through the streets of Kashgar.

"Everyone is talking about it."

From traders to tailors, the prospect of Kashgar becoming the Shenzhen of West China has been a hot topic in recent months.

Shenzhen, located in Guangdong province and just across the border with Hong Kong, was a small fishing village 30 years ago when it was designated as the country's first SEZ.

Today, it is a modern metropolis with a vibrant economy and a population of about 8.9 million people.

The western parts of China do not yet have any SEZs and, as Kashgar is close to four land ports bordering Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan, and has an international airport, the city is for many people the perfect choice.

"As the place that links China and Central Asia, Kashgar could be developed into a major trading and logistical bridge," said Akbar Hupur, commissioner of Kashgar prefecture.

However, Hupur now will have to settle for the time being with an economic development zone, which is smaller in scale than an SEZ and has less preferential policies than an SEZ.
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