The auto industry is taking shape in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Automobile giants such as Volkswagen have settled in the province. According to Fu Xuejun, director of SAIC Volkswagen's Xinjiang factory, the company chose to come to Xinjiang in order to break into a booming automobile market.
The annual output of the factory has now reached 20,000 vehicles.The vehicles manufactured here are either sold locally or shipped to other provinces and regions in west China.
Though building a vehicle factory in China's westernmost region can be difficult for foreign enterprises, Xinjiang edges out for its favorable government policies and land procurement.
In 2013, China put forward the Belt and Road Initiative for international cooperation and co-development. The proximity to countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt has brought Xinjiang’s auto industry brighter prospects.
The new market would likely to boost the industry’s manufacturing capacity. In 2018, the passenger vehicle company GAC Motors also opened a factory in Urumqi, hoping to tap into the growing market.
Chinese manufacturing giants, including SANY, Shaanxi Automobile Group, Dongfeng Motor and XCMG, have already set up their plants in Xinjiang.
China-made automobiles exported to central Asian nations from Xinjiang more than doubled last year to 16,000 units, according to local customs data.
The revenue of these auto exports also grew by 120 percent to $680 million, according to figures released by the Xinjiang customs office. Over 80 percent of auto products exported to the Central Asia market were heavy trucks.
Xinjiang's customs attributed the sharp rise in auto exports to economic recovery in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and the appeal of low-cost but high-quality China-made automobiles.
These companies firmly believes that the magnifying effect of the prospective demand along the Belt and Road is showing and it is a only matter of time for a full-fledged vehicle industry to take shape in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang's position as China's key passageway to Central and West Asia has been stressed since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013.
The region is one of the three outlets of China-Europe freight trains, which just reached 10,000 since the first was launched in 2011. Up to 3,600 tonnes of cargo are handled every day in Urumqi, now one of the largest logistics hubs along the Silk Road Economic Belt.
But Xinjiang is posed to be more than just a doorway to the west. Benefiting from the geographical location, the once remote border region is shaping into a regional center of industries.