Alaer, a city on the rise
People from different parts of China have successfully transformed a desert area in Xinjiang into a thriving garden city.
Over the past decade, a number of public service facilities, such as cultural centers, libraries, and sports centers, have also been built in the city of Alaer.
This photo shows autumn scenery in Alaer. [Photo: VCG]
Alaer is a city that stands nearest to the Taklimakan Desert in northwest China.
It became a fully-fledged city in 2004 after undergoing decades of development and growth.
Many historical events have also taken place in this city.
"This route shows where Ban Chao had lived during his stay in the Western Regions. He was the first official been sent to Xinjiang and worked here. He was also an official who worked in Xinjiang for the longest time at that time."
This is Yang Xuewei, a guide at a local memorial hall.
She says her father Yang Hua relocated from Nanjing with her grandpa to settle in Alaer 60 years ago.
They were a part of a large group of people who moved from inland to Xinjiang to boost local development.
They searched for land suitable to settle on and plant cotton on either side of the Tarim River that runs through the desert.
Yang Hua says he has witnessed great changes over the years.
"Believe it or not, at that time, everything here lagged behind other places in the country's interior. There were cranes everywhere because of construction work. After fourteen years of development, Alaer is now considered as the center of Nanjiang area."
In 2011, construction work for a man-made ecological barrier started.
It's designed to stop encroaching deserts and combat climate change.
The so-called 'Great Green Wall' now stretches for 130 kilometers along the Taklimakan Desert.
The project has helped improve the local people's living conditions as most of them were living in shabby houses.
Zhang Xiaoting is a young woman born in the 1990s. She works in a local library.
After graduating from an inland university, she quit her job where she earned a salary of more than 10-thousand yuan a month and returned to Xinjiang.
She says more and more young people like her are returning to the region with the hope of making their hometown better.
"I think we should make contributions to our hometown as we have learned a lot. I have lived for a while in other places so I know what's going on in the world. However, many things that you can see in other places haven't been launched here, which is a great pity. This is also what I'm trying to do in the future."
As one of China's top cotton growing regions, Alaer is improving its transportation network, which includes highways and airports.
The local government is also making efforts to further its manufacturing and service industries.