Xizang reaches trade milestone, showcasing progress in high-level opening up

Tourists enjoy the scenery by the Lake Namtso in southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, May 19, 2024. As temperature rises and ice melts, the Lake Namtso will enter its tourism season. Photo: Xinhua

Tourists enjoy the scenery by the Lake Namtso in southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, May 19, 2024. As temperature rises and ice melts, Lake Namtso will enter its tourism season. Photo: Xinhua

A local official in Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region said on Thursday that the total foreign trade volume of the region reached 10 billion yuan ($138.08 million) in 2023, marking a historic breakthrough.

This milestone highlights the significant strides the region has made in advancing high-level opening up and high-quality development in recent years, observers said.

As a key node in the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative, Xizang has achieved greater connectivity with its neighboring countries and regions in various sectors, welcoming a broader market through high-level opening up, analysts said, noting that its latest economic achievements will bring more opportunities and support for the development of China’s vast western regions.

Opening up is the only path for the region’s high-quality development, Yan Jinhai, deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China Xizang Autonomous Regional Committee and chairman of the People's Government of Xizang Autonomous Region, said during a press conference.

In 2023, Xizang engaged in import and export trade with 175 countries and regions, witnessing a 138.3 percent surge in the total volume of goods traded. From January to April this year, the total foreign trade volume in the region reached 2.8 billion yuan, a remarkable increase of 201.7 percent year-on-year, according to official data Yan cited.

Yan said the region’s strides are a result of its firm commitment to revitalizing border areas, boosting public services and infrastructure, and exploring high-quality development through continuous opening up. Vigorous efforts have included enabling dual customs clearance for both passengers and goods at four national ports and restoring 15 traditional border trade points.

As a key driver of the region’s prosperity, Xizang’s tourism sector has also seen significant growth, welcoming 55.17 million visitors last year and generating record-high revenue of 65.1 billion yuan. This marked a notable 83.7 percent increase in tourist numbers from the previous year and a 60 percent increase in revenue. The official also expressed strong confidence in sustaining double-digit growth in the tourism sector for 2024.

Xizang boasts unique geographic and cultural features, as well as significant resources and demographic advantages. Coupled with the current policy support, the convergence of these strengths will unleash boundless impetus and potential for the region’s development, analysts said.

Moreover, the region is also accelerating the cultivation of new quality productive forces driven by high-tech innovation. Its unique climate characteristics and low-cost clean energy provide unparalleled advantages for the development of high-tech digital industries.

Xizang is building the world’s highest-altitude green data center to spur innovation through computational power, with a planned investment of 11.8 billion yuan, Yan said, noting the region's digital economy exceeded 25 billion yuan last year.

Last year, the region’s GDP reached nearly 240 billion yuan, growing by 9.5 percent, and ranking first in China. The region’s total financial resources amounted to 380 billion yuan, with per capita financial resources also topping the national rankings, according to official data.

Looking ahead, local authorities have vowed to make all-out efforts to stabilize economic growth, expand consumption, and enhance development momentum. They aim to effectively propel the high-quality development of Xizang’s economy to new heights by continuously fostering new growth points.