Golmud - a sprawling Gobi Desert center in the northwestern province of Qinghai - hopes to become China's Salt Lake City.Hu Chengli, secretary of the city's Communist Party Committee, told Xinhua news agency that the 40-year-old city has much in common with the capital of Utah in the United States.
Both abound in resources from salt lakes and are high-altitude cities emerging from deserts, Hu noted.
Although Salt Lake City has become a metropolis that can host the Winter Olympics and Golmud is only a rising medium-sized place, "we are confident we can turn itsintosChina's Salt Lake City" within 10 years, Hu said.
To reach this goal, the city government plans to develop a series of core industries involving salt-lake chemicals, the petrochemical and gas industries, commerce and trade, and shipping and distribution.
Claiming the largest area of any city in the world - 124,500 square kilometers - Golmud is located in the south-central part of the Qaidam Basin, called a "treasure basin" for its wealth of natural resources.
Around the city are more than 20 salt lakes, big and small. Qarham Salt Lake, to the northeast of Golmud proper, has an area of 5,856 square kilometers - larger, it is said, than any other inland salt lake. It is also China's largest production center for potassium, magnesium and salt.
Golmud has great development potential, Hu said. Besides Qarham Salt Lake's resources, estimated to be worth more than 15 trillion yuan (US.8 trillion), Golmud possesses natural-gas reserves of 1 trillion cubic meters, plus more than 50 types of minerals, including gold, copper, jade and precious stones, lead, and zinc.
Construction has begun on a potassium fertilizer project with a designed production capacity of 1 million tons. It is scheduled to be completed before June 2003.
And the government has given the green light for construction of an industrial center costing 10.7 billion yuan that would use the Qaidam Basin's resources. It is expected to become a major producer of aluminum alloy and polyvinyl-chloride materials.Golmud has witnessed rapid economic growth in recent years. In 2001, its gross domestic product totaled 2.21 billion yuan, a rise of 31.9 percent over the previous year.
Golmud also plans to speed up efforts in updating its infrastructures.