Remote China region to spend $19 billion on roads in next two decades

BEIJING (Reuters) – The remote poverty-stricken northwestern Chinese region of Ningxia plans to spend 115 billion yuan ($19 billion) over the next 17 years on new and upgraded roads, state media said on Friday, the latest effort to boost investment and support a slowing economy.

Ningxia, home to a large Muslim minority and mostly made up of desert and mountains, will build 1,200 km of new roads and 2,730 km of upgraded roads, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the regional government.

The roads will help improve connectivity to major Chinese cities, including to the capital Beijing, and link almost all of Ningxia’s towns, villages, industrial and tourist sites, the report said.

Last month, state media reported that Ningxia’s neighboring province of Gansu said it would spent more than 1 trillion yuan on 160 large-scale projects such as airports and railways, though provided no time frame.

Investment is a crucial driver of the world’s second-largest economy, though it had slowed as authorities tried to re-engineer the growth model by reducing inefficient state spending and encouraging domestic consumption.

The government has pumped billions into its less developed inland western regions over the past several years to improve connections with the rest of the country and try and boost economies which had been left behind by the booming coastal provinces.

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