From "Gobi desert" to "livable city," Shihezi's journey moves on
Shihezi, located at the northern foot of the Tianshan Mountains, is said to be the youngest city built since the founding of People's Republic of China. Originally a section of the "Gobi desert" seventy years ago, Shihezi has been transformed into a "livable city" with a population of 400,000.
An undated photo shows an aerial view of Shihezi, Xinjiang. [File photo: Shihezi Photographer Association]
The city has already made huge achievements, and its development is still ongoing. "In the next two to three years, great changes will take place in Shihezi. This year, more than 200 projects have been launched one after another," said Dong Yifeng, Secretary of the party committee of the 8th division of Xinjiang production and construction corps. Discussing modern urban development plan in Shihezi, Dong Yifeng says they've been able to follow a developmental pattern. "It is hard to imagine that 70 years ago, it was still part of the Gobi desert. Now, the Shihezi municipal government is carrying out road and shanty town reconstruction, park construction, civic center construction and building other public facilities."
Dong Yifeng, Secretary of the party committee of the 8th division of Xinjiang production and construction corps, during an interview in Shihezi Party and government service center, Shihezi, Xinjiang, April 4, 2019. [Photo: Shihezi Daily/ Xu Rongfang]
Dong Yifeng says the development of Shihezi relies on attracting and retaining more talent, which he suggests can be done by creating a more interesting environment for talented people. He's already put forward several proposals centering on the issue, including the improvement of public infrastructure and services, optimizing the business environment for private companies, upgrading the education industry and increasing the training of government officials.
To date, the elderly population of Shihezi stands at 21%, which is 4% higher than the average in China. As part of the development of public services, the elderly care sector is going to require more professional talent to help ease the burden on existing care givers. In addition, public infrastructure construction will enhance the city's capability to cater to more entertainment activities.
The municipal government has guaranteed that more favorable policies will be targeted toward private businesses, one of which is offering land at a lower price to private companies in support of their effort to build apartments for their workers.
Dong Yifeng, Secretary of the party committee of the 8th division of Xinjiang production and construction corps, sits for an interview in the Shihezi Party and government service center, Shihezi, Xinjiang, April, 4 2019. [Photo: Shihezi Daily/ Xu Rongfang]
The education industry also means a lot to the city. Dong Yifeng notes the total number of teachers and students at Shihezi University has reached 50,000 this year, accounting for one-eighth of the population of the city. Authorities say these people play an important role in developing the city. Dong Yifeng says the local government also pays great attention to vocational education. He notes this year will see the government introduce more vocational majors, including service majors in the high-speed rail industry and aviation industry.
The government will also increase overseas training for its officials. Dong Yifeng says a city's management level depends on the training officials received. Starting from this year, the government will select 60 officials to attend overseas training annually.
Dong Yifeng has also taken time to laud the dedication of the nearly three generations of Xinjiang production and construction corps which have been critical to Shihezi's achievements.