ISLAMABAD, July 21 (Xinhua) -- The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China has witnessed great strides in its development over the past few decades, said one political and strategic analyst, who first visited the vast region in the 1970s.
"I have been an eyewitness to the development that has taken place," Sultan Mehmood Hali, said of Xinjiang.
"Today, Xinjiang is unbelievable," the China expert told Xinhua in a recent interview. The airports, roads, buildings and facilities in the capital Urumqi are "remarkable," he added.
Hali first went to Xinjiang in the 1970s. At that time, Xinjiang was underdeveloped and the city of Urumqi was small, the former Pakistani Air Force officer recalled.
Xinjiang is a very attractive region, which has mountains, lakes, deserts and cities, said Hali, who has written more than 10 books, five of which are on China.
The region's various ethnic groups have retained their cultural characteristics, which have become luring attractions for travelers, Hali said.
Furthermore, while the Chinese government "deals with miscreants with an iron fist," it attempts to bring those who are affected by extremist ideology into the mainstream by giving them vocational training and jobs, Hali said.
Having studied the various approaches that other governments have applied against extremism and terrorism, the Chinese government has evolved its own policy and helped locals lead a prosperous life, Hali said.
"The government's policy is successful," he said.
Since the advent of the Belt and Road initiative, Xinjiang has ushered in greater development opportunities because many of the initiative's projects are located there, he added.