The best China News & Insight from the web in one place.


Located near the geographical center of China but culturally part of Western China, Xining is the Capital of Qinghai province and at the heart of the governments Go West policy. With a population of about 2.25 million inhabitants about half of whom live in the main four urban areas, it is a prefectural level, third tier city with a GDP per capita of ¥19,494 RMB (US$2,800) in 2008, placing it roughly in the middle of all Chinese cities. Its main industries are currently wool spinning and textiles, fur, high altitude animal husbandry, dairy products, salt extraction & processing, Traditional Tibetan medicines, and light processing industries.


Xining has a relatively high percentage of ethnic minorities, the majority being Hui with also a sizeable Tibetan population. It is home to significant religious sites for both Muslims and Buddhists. Xining has a cold, semi-arid climate due to its high altitude.



Major Economic Indicators (2012)



Land Area (km2)




   GDP (RMB billion)



GDP Composition


          Primary Industry (Agriculture)


          Secondary Industry (Industry & Construction)


          Tertiary Industry (Service)


    GDP Per Capita (RMB)


    Unemployment Rate


    Fixed Asset Investment (RMB billion)


    Total Import & Export (USD million)


          Export (USD million)


          Import (USD million)


    Sales of Social Consumer Goods (RMB billion)


Source: Xining Economic and Social Development Report 2012


Xining has seen substantial economic growth over the past few years with 15% growth in GDP in 2012 from a year earlier. It’s GDP makes up nearly half of the total province (45.2% in 2012). In the same year, Xining’s value added industrial output rose 19.5% and foreign trade 14.5% year on year.


It is at the center of the so called Silk Road Economic Belt being a hub for both logistics and investment for increased economic ties with Central Asia. Key to this development plan is the currently ongoing Industrial Transfer process where manufacturing in the eastern costal cities are being actively encouraged to re-locate to the area, with a special focus on renewables.




One of the largest development projects in recent years was the Xining Economic and Technological Development Zone, completed in 2010. XETDZ lies in the east of Xining and is the first of its kind at the national level on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau as part of the country’s attempt to further develop the western region. XETDZ focuses on export-oriented industrial projects. It has an area of 12.8 square kilometers with a GDP over 18 billion in 2010.


Ferrosilicon, machine tools, bearings and cotton yarn are major exports of Xining. Japan, South Korea and the U.S. are the most important trading partners of the city.


The province is rich in natural resources, and current has an economy based on mineral extraction, hydropower, and Highland agro-husbandry. Oil and natural gas from the Chaidamu Basin have also been important contributors to the economy. Underdeveloped infrastructure however has thus far prohibited it from fully capitalizing on these advantages. For the future however, the focus will be very much on “Inclusive and Sustainable’ development revolving around solar, wind, and low-carbon energy projects.


Major Companies:

Qinghai Salt Lake Industry Group is a leading producer and distributor of potassium fertilizers. Headquartered in Xining, it posted RMB 5.9 billion in revenues and RMB 1.5 billion in net profits for 2010.


West Mining Co is a private company headquartered in Xining. It is engaged in the mining, smelting and trade of zinc, lead, copper and aluminum. It is China’s second-largest producer of lead concentrate. It posted RMB 18.51 billion in revenues and RMB 989.43 million in net profits for 2010. West Mining Co listed its A shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2007.


Xining Special Steel (Group) Co., Ltd. is the largest special steel enterprise in Northwest China with annual output of 400,000 tons. It produces steel bars and reinforced bars and machinery. It posted RMB 7.05 billion in revenues and RMB 233.12 million in net profits for 2010.


Qinghai Jinrui Mineral Development Co., Ltd. is principally engaged in the research, development, production, processing and sale of strontium products and castings. It was listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 1996 and has total assets worth over 1.3 billion as of 2012.


Xining New Energy Development Co., Ltd. is a high-tech and joint stocking enterprises and engages in solar energy power generation. It is the largest production base of household solar energy power generation system in China.


      Golmud 200 MW PV solar plant


Qinghai Supower Titanium Co., Ltd. is the only company in Qinghai which produces and processes titanium and titanium alloy. Located in XETDZ, the company employs about 200 people with an annual output of 8,000 tons of titanium. It was founded in 2008 and has a registered fund of RMB 240 million.


Qinghai Huanghe Hydropower Development Co. Ltd. is a comprehensive energy enterprise focused on the development and construction of power stations as well as the production and sale of silicon products and solar power generating equipment. It was established in 1999 under China Power Investment Corporation and now has total assets worth over 57 billion RMB.



Xining is rich in mineral resources. Its reserves of potassium, magnesium, lithium, iodine, natural sulfur, silica and asbestos rank the first in China.



As a provincial capital, Xining is the center of education of the province. As of the end of 2012, the city had 9 colleges and universities with a total of 61,858 students. The major universities include Qinghai University, Qinghai Normal University, and Qinghai University for Nationalities.



Xining's main station is the first stop on the Qinghai-Tibet train line. This line, completed in 2006, is the world’s highest railway. As a result, Xining has considerable tourism from travelers passing through on their way to Tibet, especially as this is considered the best place to start the journey in order to acclimate to the altitude. Xining is also the connecting point for trains heading the opposite way on the Lanzhou-Qinghai Railway.


The main station has almost been completed for the high-speed rail link to Lanzhou and Urumqi, with construction due to finish in August.


Xining Airport (IATA: XNN) is located about 30km east of downtown Xining. It has 13 airlines operating out of it heading to more than 20 domestic destinations and Hong Kong.


There are long distance buses out of Xining to about ten surrounding cities ranging from 4-20 hours away. These buses run on China National Highway 214 out of Xining.


Within the city there is a low-cost bus system (flat-rate 1 RMB) that runs until about 9 p.m., sometimes ending earlier in the winter.



Xining is a popular tourist destination in the summer, especially as it is an important religious location with the Ta’er Monastery(one of six famous monasteries in the Gelugpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism) and the Dongguan Mosque (one of the most famous mosques in the northwest region of China).


Tourism is also an important pillar in Xining. In 2012, it hosted 11.28 million tourists, with a tourist income of RMB 7.52 billion, up 33.9% year on year.


History and Culture

There are about 37 nationalities living in Xining, though only a few groups are numerically significant. According to the 2010 Census, Han Chinese make up 74.04 percent of the total population of Xining, while Hui (16.26 percent), Tibetan (5.51 percent) and Tu (2.6 percent) are the main minority groups in the city.


Xining has a history of over 2,100 years and was part of the Northern Silk Road. It was also significant as a western stronghold against foreign attacks in the Han, Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties.




To comment please register or login

Please login here

Create new account / Forgot password?

Create new account

And a little about you

Forgot your password?

Enter the e-mail address you used to create your account and we will send you instructions for resetting your password.

* Please check your email to get the temporary password we've just assigned you

Edit Password

To continue reading this article please register below as a site user. Thank you

Create new account

And a little about you

If you are already a member, please login here