China's main state-owned companies will double their investments in the restless far western region of Xinjiang over the next five years to 991.6 billion yuan ($155 billion), a major Chinese newspaper reported on Thursday.
The projects, run by 31 firms, will focus on the petroleum, petrochemical, coal, electricity and nonferrous metals industries, Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily said, citing a recent government meeting in Xinjiang.
Regional capital Urumqi was rocked by ethnic violence in 2009 between majority Han Chinese and minority Uighurs that killed nearly 200 people. Many of the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs, who call Xinjiang home, chafe at Beijing's rule.
Since then, Beijing has turned its attention to boosting development in Xinjiang and providing greater job opportunities, especially for Uighurs in the mostly rural southern region.
Oil major PetroChina will invest more than 300 billion yuan in Xinjiang over the next decade, while China's largest coal producer Shenhua will invest 100 billion yuan over the coming five years, it added.
China Power Investment Corp, one of the country's five major state-owned power producers, will also pump more than 70 billion yuan into the region over the next five years, the China Daily said in a separate report.
Aside from developing natural resources, the companies will invest in railway, road, communication, hydropower and other infrastructure schemes, the People's Daily added.
Plans for the next five years also call for economic development zones, similar to those on China's coast which have been at the forefront of growth, in two border regions -- the old Silk Road city of Kashgar and the border town of Horgos.
These will take aim at Central Asia markets in the region, to establish export production and modern logistics bases, the People's Daily said.
The region has been jolted by two violent incidents over the last few weeks in which more than 30 people died, blamed by China on Islamic militants seeking an independent state called East Turkestan.
Exile groups say China's development policies in Xinjiang exclude Uighurs and benefit mainly the Han Chinese, who have flocked to the region in the past few decades lured by government incentives and investment.
Xinjiang is strategically vital to China. A vast swathe of territory, it holds rich oil and gas deposits and borders Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Central Asia. ($1 = 6.388 yuan)