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Xinjiang a highland of development says foreign expert

By ZHAO JIA | | Updated: 2024-04-15 21:30
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The delegation visited the Xinjiang branch of Guangzhou Automobile Group Corporation in Urumqi and witnessed automated operation of machines. [Photo by Zhao Jia/China Daily]

Instead of a backward place, Ezzeddine Abdelmoula believed Xinjiang, benefiting from the Belt and Road Initiative, was a highland of development as the scholar wrapped up his four-day tour to Xinjiang.

"It's great to be here and I started to learn about the people, the society and even the country. Because people outside do not know much about the region and they learn from media which are not always balanced, therefore getting wrong impressions and ideas about Xinjiang," said Abdelmoula, manager of research of Al Jazeera Centre for Studies in Qatar.

He was a member of the delegation composed of eleven experts and reporters from 8 Asian and Middle East countries. It was the first time for them to land on China's northwest Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The trip took them to Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, and Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, northwest the autonomous region.

"I think the Horgos is a symbol of China's opening up to the outside world and also a testimony of achievements of the Belt and Road Initiative," Abdelmoula said when the delegation visited China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center, the first cross-border cooperation zone established between China and other countries, at the border city.

They were captivated by the vitality of the area—a constant stream of tourists, vehicles shuttling back and forth, and stores packed with merchants and shoppers.

Historically, Xinjiang has long been a key hub for trade and logistics between Asia and Europe. At present, the initiative breathes new life into Xinjiang to turn it from a borderland to a bridgehead in westward opening-up.

"Many countries want to partner with China in the initiative and I think China has a lot to offer to the world, especially cooperation between China and others is very promising," Abdelmoula added.

Alireza Gholipour, deputy director general of Institute for Political and International Studies in Iran, said the initiative had importance far greater than the simple exchange of goods.

"When I talk about connectivity, I'm not talking just about commerce or trade. The initiative also facilitates people-to-people contacts and promotes cultural exchanges and mutual learning among countries," he said.

Sharanjit Singh, executive editor of the New Straits Times in Malaysia, was amazed at the development speed of China's automobile industry, saying the industry was an epitome of Chinese economy as the delegation headed to the Xinjiang branch of Guangzhou Automobile Group Corporation in Urumqi, which is owned by GAC Group, a large joint-stock automobile enterprise.

They visited an automotive automation production line and witnessed skilled technical workers from different ethnic groups operating equipment.

Singh said GAC Group was "not a stranger to Malaysia," because the globalized and modern enterprise is building a factory in his country.

"China is opening the world's eyes on how fast it can develop. It doesn't make as much noise like some countries but it is doing things quietly and very effectively," he added.

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