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"Space City" Turns Into Green Garden

CHENGDU, August 22 -- "Look! Look! "a tourist cries out when he spots a small animal scurrying through the lawn near the satellite launching pad at the Xichang Satellite Launching Center, in Xichang City, the capital of the Liangshan Yi Nationality Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province.

"As a result of the improved environment, there are more animals in the area and they cause problems at times," said an official at the launching center.

The center is one of three satellite launching bases in the country. Since April 24, 1970, when it sent China's first satellite into orbit, the center has succeeded in launching 32 space vehicles.

According to official sources, Xichang was chosen as a satellite launching site for its favorable weather conditions and meanwhile, the center and local government have joined hands to protect the local environment.

To protect trees and curb soil erosion, the government has relocated local villagers to other parts of the city at a cost of 30 million yuan. As the launching center is drawing more and more tourists, many local villagers have become souvenir vendors or businessmen providing transport and food to the visitors.

The city government plans to make tourism a pillar industry in the coming ten years. Currently, the city is building a number of infrastructure projects like roads, railways and telecommunications facilities to lay a sound foundation for the future development.

-- source: Xinhua News Agency

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