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President Hu calls for greater development in China's west
 

YINCHUAN, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for more efforts to promote social, economic development in the underdeveloped western areas of the country.

Hu made the call during his three-day visit to northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from Sunday to Tuesday.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of China's campaign to develop the west.

Hu said the past decade witnessed a good beginning of and laid a solid foundation for the "West Development" drive and the next decade would be a crucial period for pushing forward the campaign.

To develop the west would remain one of the priorities in the 12th five-year plan starting 2011, during which the central government would provide more favorable policies and greater funds to western areas, Hu said.

He called for transforming the economic growth pattern, and improving people's livelihood, as he visited local factories, farms, renovated shanty-towns and new villages housing farmers that had migrated to from virtually uninhabitable areas.

In his visit to a successful company which manufactures rare metal products, Hu said the central government attached strategic importance to developing the new material industry. He called on companies to innovate technology, produce new products and implement new management practices.

When visiting Ningxia Forestry Institute (LTD.CO), Hu was briefed by researchers on growing salt-proof and drought-resistant plants with bio-technology, plants that suited the local environment. Hu called on the scientific institute to make contributions to local ecological and environmental protection.

He praised a diary farm for setting up corporatives and pooling funds for local diary farmers to expand production and earn more.

In his visit to a dam on the Yellow River, Hu stressed infrastructure construction so as to protect local people from floods.

The Xinghai Lake wetland reserve in Shizuishan city used to be severely polluted. After years of ecological protection, the wetland reverted to be a paradise of birds.

When visiting the wet land reserve, Hu said, ecological and environmental protection must be the priority. He called on efforts of Ningxia to improve its own environment and to help build an ecological safety-net for the entire western region.

LIVELIHOOD

Hu also visited a residential community built in 2004 for people who previously lived in subsidence areas caused by coal mining.

At the home of Pang Huaiwen, a retired mining worker, Hu promised to continue increasing pension for enterprise retirees and strengthening the effort of transforming shanty towns in industrial and mining areas so that retired workers could share the fruit of reform and development.

In a village housing 866 families who moved here from drought areas, Hu said more measures will be taken to help relocated people increase incomes.

He asked local officials to properly address the issues concerning the livelihood of the migrants.

Hu also made a special visit to a well-drilling construction site in Yongning County, where he unveiled a well built by an engineering corps for water-lacking local people.

Hu underscored ethnic unity when meeting with representatives of the region's religious and ethnic affairs circles.

Ningxia has a population of 6.18 million, 36 percent of which are ethnic Hui.

"Ethnic unity is a good tradition of the region," Hu said, adding Ningxia has fully carried on the country's ethnic and religious policies.

"Ningxia's development proves that no hardship is unconquerable if all ethnic groups work together to build our common home," he said.



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