World Bulletin / News Desk
The future of economic development in China's far western Xinjiang region lies behind the shattered glass door of a welcome centre on the outskirts of the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar.
Inside, a dusty model depicts a modern urban development with wide, tree-lined boulevards and a pair of twin skyscrapers -- but outside the project remains a ghost town reflecting Beijing's struggle to bring prosperity to the restless region.
Dubbed "Shenzhen City" after the bustling southern port city that financed it, the more than 200,000 square metre development is part of a government project to stabilise Xinjiang with massive economic stimulus.
But outside the welcome centre, where a broken LED sign flashed out an investment hotline number like an SOS, the plan for a vibrant oasis on the western edge of the Taklamakan desert stood like a mirage.
The landmark buildings' half-finished silhouettes jut out of a rubble-strewn construction site, surrounded by withered trees and grass.
Several such ambitious projects around Kashgar have stagnated despite government plans to bring the poverty-stricken region's economy on par with the rest of the nation.
To do so, Shenzhen and 18 of the country's other wealthiest cities and provinces have been required to pump a fraction of their GDP into Xinjiang under a "pairing assistance" programme.
The rationale is "if you can improve people's economic conditions, they will become less politically restive," said Enze Han, a lecturer on politics at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies.
But "if you look at the ground, the story in Xinjiang is a failure," he said.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Eylül 2017, 11:18