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March 7, 2024 (EIRNS)—Erkin Tuniyaz, the chairman of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, told China Daily on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the 14th National People’s Congress, that citizens and foreigners are encouraged to visit the region. Tuniyaz said that in January, foreign diplomats and representatives affiliated with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization were invited to sit in during the annual sessions of the Xinjiang Regional People’s Congress and the regional committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference for the first time. “Xinjiang will be more and more opened-up. I sincerely welcome more people from all over the world to come to the region for sightseeing or investing in businesses so they can see the real Xinjiang, which is beautiful, harmonious, prosperous and stable, with their own eyes.”

Global Times reviewed the actual growth of the region: “Xinjiang’s total imports and exports surpassed 357 billion yuan ($49.6 billion) in 2023, a record high, representing a year-on-year increase of 45.9%. The increase is the second highest registered by a provincial-level region in China. Trade between Xinjiang and Central Asian countries increased 53% year-on-year, accounting for 80% of Xinjiang’s total foreign trade. The region, which shares borders with eight countries including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan, currently has 18 land ports exclusively catering to foreign trade.”

Tuniyaz added: “The opportunities brought about by the Belt and Road Initiative and the establishment of the China (Xinjiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone have placed Xinjiang, which is an inland region, in the forefront of opening-up.” In November, the FTZ, the first in China’s northwestern border regions, officially started operations. With a total area of nearly 180 square kilometers, the FTZ encompasses areas including Urumqi, the regional capital; Horgos in the north, and Kashgar in the south. He noted that the FTZ “is a key decision made by the central government and a milestone in the region’s progress of pushing for high-level opening-up.”

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