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Monday, June 12, 2006

How Western Media to Distort the Truth about China

I found the following report from Indian Express. From its content, this article came from LA times and Washington post, two American mainstream media.

This article is a very good example to show how the western medias distort the truth and facts about China and mislead their readers.

"Develop the West" is a big project started in late 1990s to promote the economy in China's western area to narrow the gap between the western and eastern areas.

To lure more investment to the western area, China government has to invest heavily in the infrastructures in the area as said in the article. Of course, with the improvement of the infrastructure, more and more natural resources in this sparely populated land will be put into production. But the resources will not be shipped to the eastern are for free since today China's economy is market-oriented.

But the article only remind the readers of the natural resources. It simply ignores the industrial development in the western areas. In recent years, Chinese coastal areas feel the labor shortage. This is a very important sign. Why? Most of migrant workers came from the western areas. But many of them prefer to stay in their home now since they can find opportunities there due to more coming investment either from government or private companies. The labor shortage in the eastern areas also forces the developed area to promote their industry to higher technological level and productivity as Chinese wish or moves their investment westwards to the less-developed areas.

China's western area is poorer comparing with the eastern area. But Xinjiang is not poor by Chinese standard, very contrary to the image this article portrait. According to Wikipedia, Xinjiang is listed as the No. 13 among 31 Chinese provinces or municipalities by GDP per capita, it is richer than many other Chinese provinces. urumqi, Kashgar, and other cities in Xinjiang are very modern.

Xinjiang is divided into southern Xinjiang (or Nanjiang) and Northern Xinjiang (or Beijiang) by Tianshan Mountains. Nortern Xinjiang is very developed comparing with many other Chinese areas. But shoutern Xinjiang was poor even it is a very good place for agriculture largely due to the seperation of the huge Taklimakan Desert. But China government complete the first across-desert highway (500 km in desert) in 1996 and finished a railway to the soutern Xinjiang in 1999. The infrastructure improvement promoted the economy in this area a lot. More and more agriculture products can be shipped out which promoted price of the farming products in the favor of local residents, and more and more industtrial products can be shipped in so that the residents can share the booming economy with other Chinese. Today, the economy in southern Xinjiang is in fast track too and Chinese government has to invest second trans-desert highway that will be finished in 2007.

Chinese people migrate inside China for chasing the economical opportunities. Chinese goverment does not force people to migrate unless some big projects need some people to give up their land. That's why more than 200 million rural Chinese moved to cities in the past 20 years. It is predicted that more than 300 million will move to cities in the next 15 years. So, it is actually a very good economical sign when people are moving to western area since it means the fast economical development in their destination areas. The move will not only benefits the migrants, but also the local residents without doubt.

There are some separatists in China. But they are minority. Most of minority ethnical Chinese, including muslims, are very patriotic. Separatism is never a big case in China even some countries count on them to disturb Chinese economy and politics. Have you heard any big incidents in China caused by separatists in recent years? The facts are so straightforward, but some are still dreaming on!

China's western area was at same developing level before the reform because of the campaign of "the third frontline construction" between 1960s and 1970s. Before this campaign, there was alomost no industry in the western area. But the alarm of possible wars with America from south and from east and Soviet Union from the north alerted Chinese government to invest heavily in the area to reduce the damage in possible wars. Even today, western China is still very important bases for avaiation, electronics, chemical, metal, energy, textile, auto, manufacture industries. There are a lot of univeristies in this area too, many of them are among the top ones in China, such as Sichuan UniversityLanzhou University, Yunan University, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chongqing UniversityThe Fourth Military Medical University, The Third Military Medical University,...... There are some very large cities in western area too, such as Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming, Urumqi, Nanning, Lanzhou. The western China is not as portraited by western medias at all. This area is developing very fast too, but slower than the eastern area.

Some pics of the western China from Skyscrapercity:

China’s westland

L A Times, Washington Post

Posted online: Monday, June 12, 2006 at 0000 hrs IST

Before the highway arrived last year, threading a strip of black pavement across a moonscape of pale sand, this town in central Xinjiang province was among the lonelier places on earth.
Now, trucks rumble across the desert, hauling watermelons from irrigated plantations to cities thousands of miles away. Caravans ferry supplies to workers at state-owned oil fields on the fringes of town, where drilling rigs extract crude for China’s industrial coast. Freighters carry electronics and clothing from coastal factories to Han Chinese merchants who have flocked here from other parts of the country to capitalize on an economic boom.
Yet just off the highway in Mazha village, life is little changed. Most people spend their days under the tyranny of sun and windblown dust, tending trellises of green grapes. Nearly all the villagers are Uighur, the Muslim ethnic minority that was the majority in Xinjiang before the arrival of Han Chinese, the dominant group in China. The highways funded by the government’s Develop the West initiative have brought little benefit here, the villagers complain.
“We Uighur people are all farmers,” said Gulijanat Tayir, a 17-year-old student. “The Han people are running all the businesses.”
In the six years since China’s central government began its well-financed campaign to spread the benefits of economic growth beyond coastal provinces, the effort has exacerbated the extreme inequality that characterizes the national economy. Gaps have grown between urban and rural China and between the less-developed west and the frenetic east.
The Develop the West program was conceived in part to stem separatist inclinations in Xinjiang and other western provinces, where ethnic minority communities resent the continued influx of Han — a migration encouraged by the central government.
Though sporadic and sometimes violent protests have persisted in Xinjiang since the advent of the program, observers say they are happening less frequently—a fact that Uighur groups attribute more to an aggressive crackdown by Chinese authorities than to the success of the campaign in spreading development.
“Among the key projects of the Develop the West program, the majority only benefit the east,” said Zhao Baotong, who heads the economics institute at the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences in the western city of Xian. “These projects are transporting electricity, natural gas and other resources from the west to the east to fuel development there. Almost none of these projects are aiming at developing local manufacturing industry in the west.”
Since the initiative began in January 2000, the central government has set aside $106 billion for 60 major projects, such as rail and road expansions, hydroelectric dams, and oil pipelines. Thirty-nine projects have been completed, costing $56 billion, according to state figures.
Studies have shown that the investment has contributed to economic growth in the west, but the pace has fallen behind development in the east, where China's nouveau riche and a growing middle class occupy increasingly glitzy cities. From 2000 to 2004, the overall growth of China’s 12 western provinces was behind that of 11 provinces and municipalities in the east by more than 12 percent, according to a study by the China Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

Extreme income gaps now separate Xinjiang from booming enclaves on the coast. In 1980, for example, the average annual income of people in Xinjiang was roughly equal to those in Zhejiang, a coastal province south of Shanghai. Last year, annual incomes in Xinjiang lagged behind those in Zhejiang by more than $1,000.
More than twice the size of Texas, Xinjiang has long occupied the fringes of Chinese domain, its inhospitable deserts once navigated by traders crossing the Silk Road from Europe to Asia. Today, a trip across the province reveals how the benefits of development are being spread unequally, even inside Xinjiang itself.
The great build-out of highways and the expansion of energy production encouraged by Beijing’s largesse have attracted millions of Han, who have come in a Gold Rush-like frenzy to capture some of the spoils of China’s modern-day frontier. The Han are now a slim majority among Xinjiang’s 19 million people. That has exacerbated tensions with the Turkic-speaking Uighurs, who have long regarded the Han as invaders.
Neon-lit shopping malls fill downtown Urumqi, the provincial capital, where Han Chinese merchants opened stores. In Kashgar (known as Kashi in Mandarin Chinese), Xinjiang’s westernmost city — an overgrown oasis that was a key stop on the Silk Road and remains famous for its raucous bazaar —Han entrepreneurs have established trading houses aimed at central Asian countries to the west, selling plumbing supplies to Kyrgyzstan and roofing materials to Tajikistan. The rectangular office buildings of the Han merchants tower over the labyrinthine streets where Uighurs live in ancient brick homes.
Han Chinese road crews from Sichuan province camp in rough canvas tents along the Karakoram Highway, the road through blank desert expanses, past mountain lakes ringed by tents, and finally on to Pakistan, paving the last remaining stretches of dirt in anticipation of more traffic.
A mile down the road, Uighur villagers sat on stools in front of half-built brick homes as the wind blew trash down unpaved streets. Men used donkey carts to carry farm tools into the fields. “We don’t have enough land,” complained Alim Pulat, the vice chief of Lianmuqing village. Families are dependent on middlemen traders to get their crops to customers in big cities.
With fields expanding and middlemen able to reach more areas, boosting supply, prices have dropped by as much as half since 2003. But the expansion of the roads and the electricity grid has produced several local factories —a heating plant, a copper smelter—and they have provided jobs for local people, boosting incomes.
“It’s a little better than years past,” Alim said. “We can eat. We have clothes to wear.” He shrugged when asked about the fairness of the Han getting more benefits from development: “It is more convenient for Han to do business with one another.”



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