China’s Silk Road ambitions have already sparked plans and the construction of economic development zones and infrastructure on the anticipated routes. The Silk Road project promises to breathe life into the poorer overland regions that have been less prominent due to their relative geographical isolation. Xinjiang and other northern provinces include foreboding terrain, while Yunnan, though picturesque, is also difficult to traverse due to its mountainous landscape. Kashi in Xinjiang demonstrates the most recent construction of an economic development zone, while other plans and construction are also under way.
Kashi Comprehensive Bonded Zone in Xinjiang passed inspection on January 8, and represents Xinjiang’s second bonded zone and its first comprehensive bonded zone. Fifteen companies have signed an agreement for investment in the zone, amounting to 3.035 billion RMB. Eight of the enterprises are local Kashgar enterprises. This new economic zone represents ongoing efforts by China’s leadership to enhance economic development in China’s western region. While the growth rate of central and western regions has been higher than that of the eastern region in recent years, there continues to be a large development gap between eastern and central and western areas.
Expansion of economic development zones in Xinjiang province also represents evolution of China’s New Silk Road. China’s New Silk Road is an effort to enhance economic and diplomatic relations, and a bullet train connecting Lanzhou in central China to Urumqi in Xinjiang, western China, will buttress the western connection within the nation itself. The rail network may be extended to CIS countries and the Middle East. An overland Silk Road extending from Yunnan to Southeast Asian nations will radiate in the opposite direction. This route will connect Kunming in Yunnan to Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.