Ningxia's focus: Boosting livelihoods
Farmers harvest goji berries at a plantation in Zhongwei, Ningxia Hui autonomous region. Last year, Ningxia produced 260,000 metric tons of fresh goji berries, a major agricultural product. [China Daily]
The Ningxia Hui autonomous region will keep allocating more than 75 percent of its annual revenue increases to people's livelihoods as the region strives to consolidate poverty-alleviation achievements, said Chen Run'er, the Party secretary of Ningxia.
"The new Ningxia Hui autonomous region would not exist without the Chinese national community under the leadership of the Communist Party of China," Chen said.
Since 1982, the central government has invested a large amount of money to support Ningxia's poverty alleviation plans. Last year, all of its nine poverty-stricken counties, with a population of 803,000 rural residents, were lifted out of poverty.
"The region will make overall plans for employment, education, medical care, social security and other aspects of livelihood to upgrade people's lives," Chen added.
Ningxia has a glorious revolutionary tradition. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, attaches great importance to the development of the region and cares for the people of all ethnic groups there, Chen said.
Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, Xi, as China's president, has inspected Ningxia twice and delivered important speeches, setting directions and drawing blueprints for the reform and development of the region.
Ningxia was a place well known for its poverty last century.
In the early days of the founding of the People's Republic of China, there was no railway in Ningxia, nor was there a bridge above the Yellow River, which has nearly 400 kilometers in the region, Chen said in a report about a Party education course in Ningxia.
It used to take half a month to travel from Yinchuan, the regional capital, to Guyuan in the southern part of the region. The central government strongly supported Ningxia's construction of a transportation network and helped it launch major infrastructure projects.
The Baotou-Lanzhou Railway, the first in the region, started construction in 1952 and was built under extreme weather conditions such as sandstorms.
Now, Ningxia's total railway length has reached 1,645 kilometers, and its regional tracks have been integrated into the national high-speed railway network.
Water was once the biggest challenge in the region. In June 1957, then premier Zhou Enlai presided over the Yellow River water conservancy project.
Later, in 1967, the completion of the Qingtongxia water conservancy project laid the foundation for tackling various water use problems. The central government strongly supported Ningxia in the development of its embankments and dredging rivers. The region's 486 centralized drinking water projects initiated resolved water safety issues for 4.39 million people.
Since Ningxia's establishment, the central government has supported the region's agricultural development. The added value of agriculture has increased from 183 million yuan in 1958 to 35.6 billion yuan ($5.53 billion) last year, and grain output has increased from 690,000 metric tons to 3.85 million tons.
Thanks to the nation's reform and opening-up policy, investments from state-owned energy corporations have poured into the Ningdong county energy and chemical base, which incubated the world's largest coal-to-oil project. The central government has backed Ningxia's efforts to develop green parks and green factories. As a result, the region has established an independent industrial system with a number of local enterprises.
To better develop the region, Ningxia will focus on nine backbone industries including clean energy, wine and cultural tourism.
"Less-developed regions should focus more on innovation-driven development, while Ningxia should take advantage of technological resources in the east to promote innovation," Chen said.
During his visit to Ningxia in June last year, Xi asked the region to establish a pilot area focusing on environmental protection of the Yellow River Basin as well as the high-quality development of the region.
Ningxia's pilot area will answer Xi's call and promote the region's natural areas. In that vein, the region also needs to take care of the Yellow River, deepening the progress of sand fixing and soil protection, Chen said.
"We have to coordinate the management of forests, fields, lakes, grasses and sands, combining natural restoration and artificial restoration," he said.
Ningxia has done its part to meet the national goal of reducing major pollutants. The days with good air quality in cities has remained stable at over 85 percent for three consecutive years.
"Black and odorous water bodies in urban areas have been completely cleared," Chen said.
As a region where many ethnic groups live, Chen said, Ningxia will continue to protect the legitimate rights and interests of all people.
"We will severely crack down on acts that undermine national unity," he said.
People of all ethnic groups in the region cherish national unity just as they cherish their lives, and they embrace each other like pomegranate seeds, he added.
"We will unite and lead people of all ethnic groups in the region to work hard, strive and forge ahead, and continue to build a new, beautiful Ningxia," Chen said.
Over the past 60 years, the people of Ningxia have benefited from the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, the region's ethnic policies and the support of people across the country, Chen said.
"Standing at a new starting point and embarking on a new journey, we will inherit the Party's spirit and strive to compose a new chapter in Ningxia," he said.