China-Eurasia Expo opens in Urumqi

Updated: 2011-09-01 13:32


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URUMQI - Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday opened the first China-Eurasia Expo in northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi, an event that aims to fast track economic cooperation at the heart of Eurasia.

Foreign leaders at the opening ceremony in the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region included Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari, Kyrgyz president Roza Otunbayeva, Azerbaijan's vice premier Abid Sharifov, and Kazakhstan's deputy prime minister Aset Isekeshev.

China's Minister of Commerce Chen Deming told participants at the expo that China had made a key decision to accelerate the opening-up process to neighbors to its west. While the global economic recovery slows, China is determined to push for regional prosperity by working closely with Asian and European countries on trade and industrial cooperation.

Chen said Xinjiang is at the "frontier" of China's opening-up policy with regard to neighboring countries to its west. With a solid industrial base and abundant resources, Xinjiang holds huge business opportunities.

Organizers of the event said about 50,000 officials and businessmen from China and about 30 countries, regions and international organizations are expected to attend the five-day trade fair.

The expo was upgraded from the 19-year-old China Urumqi Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Fair, a regional trade fair, last year. Organizers said the upgrade will make Urumqi an important exchange platform for leaders and businesses in China and its western and southern neighbors, such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

Security is tight in and around the imposing 1.3-billion-yuan ($201.5 million) Xinjiang International Convention Center that is located in suburban Urumqi, a city that is no stranger to unrest and violent attacks. The city's top official on Wednesday revealed that police have thwarted several attempts to sabotage public safety in the run-up to the event.

Zhu Hailun, the Party secretary of the Communist Party of China's Urumqi municipal committee, said that maintaining stability is Xinjiang's local governments' primary challenge. With violence checked, the region can seize development opportunities at the expo and greatly raise the living standards of local residents.

"Overall stability results in overall development, and long-term stability results in long-term growth - that is Xinjiang's reality," Zhu said.