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More than $1t invested in western China

China has plowed 6.85 trillion yuan ($1.04 trillion) into the development of its western regions since 2000 to help the less-prosperous inland catch up with coastal areas.

"So far, there have been 317 major projects...which not only improved infrastructure in western regions but boosted advantageous industries and people's livelihood," Meng Wei, spokesperson with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said Monday at a press conference.

In 2017, nearly 500 billion yuan was pumped into 17 infrastructure projects covering railways, roads, water conservation and energy.

Although lagging behind in terms of economic aggregate, western regions are taking the lead in growth pace. Their fixed-asset investment rose 9.3 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months, quicker than the 8.1-percent and 6.9-percent increases in eastern and central areas, respectively.

China launched its "go west" strategy in 2000 to boost economic development of 12 western provincial-level regions, including Chongqing, Tibet and Inner Mongolia, which are home to more than 400 million people.

Under the strategy, western regions enjoy support in areas including infrastructure construction, foreign investment, environmental protection and education.

The NDRC also said it approved 16 fixed-asset investment projects in high tech industries and water conservation with total investment of 72 billion yuan in November. A total of 3.84 billion yuan is earmarked for reducing poverty in 2018, with 90 percent going to Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu.