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PRC State Council White Paper, "Development and Progress in Xinjiang," Sept. 21, 2009
I. Swift Economic Development
II. Remarkable Improvement in People's Lives
III. Steady Development of Social Programs
IV. Preservation of Ethnic Cultures
V. Upholding Ethnic Equality and Unity
VI. Protecting Citizens' Rights of Freedom of Religious Belief
VII. Safeguarding National Unity and Social Stability
Extending through the northwest of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which accounts for about one sixth of the country's land territory.
Historically, Xinjiang was the passage for land transport and civilizational contact between Asia and Europe. The famous Silk Road linking the ancient civilizations of the East and the West went through this vast land. Its geographical location has resulted in Xinjiang's distinctive feature: coexistence and integration of diverse peoples and their cultures. Since the first century BC, the region has been an important part of China, and played a significant role in the construction and development of a unitary multiethnic country.
Prior to the founding ceremony of the PRC on October 1, 1949, Xinjiang witnessed its peaceful liberation. The diverse peoples of Xinjiang, who had undergone great sufferings together with the people in other parts of the country, became the masters of the state, and Xinjiang entered a new era of development.
Over the past 60 years, under the leadership and care of the Communist Party of China and the central government, and with the support and assistance of all peoples in other parts of the country, the Xinjiang people of various ethnic groups through arduous efforts have made great advances in building a comfortable life and a beautiful home. The region has made a historic leap out of underdevelopment, with tremendous changes taking place in the areas north and south of the Tianshan Mountains.
The development and progress of the autonomous region should be attributed to the concerted efforts by all peoples of Xinjiang under the banner of solidarity of all ethnic groups, as well as to the success of China's policies on ethnic minorities.
I. Swift Economic Development
Before the founding of New China in 1949, Xinjiang had a natural economy mainly comprised of farming and animal husbandry. Local development was stagnant, with low productivity levels and underdeveloped production modes. There was not an inch of railway, no large-scale farms or large fertile fields. Privately owned small workshops were what signified industry here. The people led a life of poverty and hardship.
Since 1949, particularly after China's reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, Xinjiang has entered an era of rapid economic and social progress and enhanced comprehensive strength, with the local residents enjoying the most tangible benefits. Proceeding from the state development strategy and the fundamental interests of the people of various ethnic groups, the Chinese government has paid great attention to the development and construction of Xinjiang. It has made it a national basic policy to help the frontier areas develop their economy for the common good and wealth, and worked out timely a series of strategic decisions to promote Xinjiang's development. Xinjiang has been given priority in the national strategy launched in 2000 to develop the western regions.
Over the years, Xinjiang has made full use of its own advantages, and focused on economic restructuring and changing the modes of economic growth, infrastructure construction and environmental protection, along with improvement of people's livelihood and basic public services, so as to keep the development of Xinjiang in pace with the national development, and to ensure beneficial interaction between the development of southern Xinjiang and that of northern Xinjiang.
- Comprehensive strength remarkably enhanced. Calculated at constant prices, the local GDP in 2008 stood at 420.3 billion yuan, which is 86.4 times higher than that of 1952 (three years before the establishment of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), up 8.3% on average annually; 19.6 times over that of 1978 (the first year of reform and opening-up), up 10.4% on average annually; and 2.2 times above that of 2000 (launching of the western development campaign), up 10.6% on average annually. Local revenues reached 36.106 billion yuan in 2008, which is 4.56 times that of 2000, 50.57 times that of 1978, and 208.71 times that of 1955.
- Economic structure gradually optimized. In recent years, Xinjiang has witnessed rapid growth of its industry, agriculture, and service sector. As industrialization quickens, industry has replaced agriculture to become the pillar economic sector. Tertiary industry, or services, is also playing a prominent role in economic advancement. Wholesale and retail businesses and catering industry have expanded swiftly, while post and telecommunications networks have been widely set up, and new sectors, such as real estate and finance, are booming. In 2008, primary, secondary and tertiary industries accounted for, respectively, 16.4%, 49.7% and 33.9% of the local GDP.
By the end of 2008, Xinjiang had completed eight national highways, 66 inter-province highways, and more than 600 county-level roads, with the combined mileage reaching 147,000 km. A highway network has taken shape centering on Urumqi (capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), with roads surrounding the two basins (Junggar and Tarim) and crossing the two large deserts (Gurbantunggut and Taklimakan) and the Tianshan Mountains, to link southern and northern Xinjiang. With the completion of railways going through southern and northern Xinjiang and the Lanzhou-Xinjiang double-track rails, the total length of railroads in Xinjiang surpassed 3,000 km by 2008. Civil aviation has expanded swiftly, and a network with 114 domestic and international flight routes has formed, radiating from Urumqi and connecting some 70 Chinese and foreign cities and 12 prefectures in Xinjiang, with flight routes totaling over 160,000 km. Xinjiang now boasts the largest number of airports and the longest flight routes among all provinces and autonomous regions in China.
The post and telecommunications industry has seen rapid growth. A complete modern communications system has been put in place, composed of program-controlled exchanges, fiber-optical communication, digital microwave, as well as satellite and mobile communications; and the entire region has been covered by optical cable, digital microwave and satellite communications.
- Overall agricultural production capacity notably enhanced. Xinjiang boasts abundant agricultural resources. In recent years, the industrialized production of grain, cotton, special fruit and quality livestock farming as well as agriculture facility building have quickened, and industrialized belts of advantageous and special farming products are taking shape. The fundamental status and overall production capacity of agriculture have both been enhanced, and the effective supply of agricultural products is increasing multifold.
In 2008, agricultural added value reached 69.1 billion yuan, 1.4 times more than that of 2000; and the total output of grain was 10.2285 million tons, leaving a slight surplus after meeting local demand. As one of China's major bases of commercial cotton, Xinjiang produced 3.0155 million tons of cotton in 2008, ranking first in China in terms of total output, per-unit output and per-capita output.
Modern animal husbandry has accelerated its growth, and it now accounts for 27% of local agricultural output value. In 2008, meat output stood at 1.7549 million tons, up 95% from 2000. Fruit production is also increasing quickly. In 2008, the total area of fruit trees exceeded one million ha, and fruit output totaled over four million tonnes, worth six billion yuan in output value.
By 2008, Xinjiang had 1,059 enterprises engaged in agricultural produce processing. It is the largest tomato processing and export base in China. Its daily dairy-processing capacity has been boosted from less than 1,000 tonnes to nearly 3,000 tonnes in a couple of years, the fastest growth in all provinces and autonomous regions. It is also the largest production base of beet sugar in China, with an annual output of 600,000 tonnes. The wine-making industry is advancing dynamically. Agricultural processing has made production-on-order available to more than half of the planting areas, benefiting 65% of rural households.
- Modern industry system gradually formed. Xinjiang's industry has grown out of nothing, and developed from small to big. In recent years, through transforming advantageous resources, and supporting large enterprises and groups while nurturing small and medium-sized ones, Xinjiang has quickened its industrialization pace. Its main industrial products have seen multiple increases in output; and a complete modern industrial system has taken shape, comprising petroleum, coal, iron and steel, chemical industries, power, building materials, and textiles. Industrial zones have emerged, including the economic belt on the northern slope of the Tianshan Mountains, the Urumqi-Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture integrated economic zone and the Korla-Kuqa petrochemical belt, while 32 national and regional industrial parks have been built.
Industry has become an important factor propelling the local economy. In 2008, the industrial sector reported a 52.3% contribution to local economic growth, and industrial added value totaled 179.07 billion yuan, 274 times more than that of 1952, 16.6 times above 1978, and 3.98 times more than figures in 2000. The use of information technology in major industries and sectors has been strengthened, while the total amount of major pollutants discharged has been basically controlled, and energy-saving and emission-reduction efforts have yielded good results.
- Mineral resources further developed. Xinjiang is one of Chinese regions rich in oil, gas and coal resources. Encouraged by the state policy of large-scale exploration and development through big investments, Xinjiang has endeavored to turn its resource advantages into economic advantages, and to boost the local economy through resources development so as to benefit all people in Xinjiang.
In 2008, Xinjiang ranked second in China by generating 27.22 million tonnes of crude oil; and first, by producing 24 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Driven by local oil-and-gas development and China's cooperation with West Asian countries in relevant fields, the construction of pipelines in Xinjiang is advancing rapidly. By 2008, Xinjiang had a network of pipelines whose total length exceeded 4,000 km, covering southern, northern and eastern Xinjiang.
In recent years, thermal power and coal-chemical industries have boomed in Xinjiang. The rapid growth of energy and chemical industries has not only met local demands for energy and petrochemical products, but also spurred services and other relevant sectors. This is important for the formation and upgrading of regional economic structure, as well as for job creation and the urbanization rate.
- Opening wider to the world. Xinjiang is one of China's major gateways opening to the west. It is also an important passageway on the new Eurasian continental bridge. Bordered by Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, Xinjiang has the longest land borders among all frontier provinces and autonomous regions in China. Since China's reform and opening-up in 1978, Xinjiang has experienced a change from being closed or semi-closed to all-round opening up.
Now, Xinjiang has 17 Grade-I ports approved by the state and 12 Grade-II ports approved by the autonomous region itself, linking it immediately to over a dozen surrounding and nearby countries. By the end of 2008, Xinjiang was conducting economic and trade cooperation, as well as scientific and technological and cultural exchanges, with 167 countries and regions.
In 2008, Xinjiang's volume of foreign trade reached US$22.217 billion, ranking 12th in China (and second among central and western municipalities, provinces and autonomous regions); it made US$164 million in non-finance direct investment abroad, ranking 13th in China; and its turnover from overseas contracted projects reached US$795 million, ranking 14th. The region dispatched 8,548 people to work overseas, ranking 13th in China.
- Tourism has witnessed buoyant growth. In recent years, Xinjiang's tourism has become a new economic growth point. By 2008, the region has opened nearly 500 scenic zones or spots. Besides the main tourist route along the Silk Road, there are also the Kanas Lake eco-tourism zone, the Heavenly Lake, Sayram and Bosten lakes, ancient cultural ruins in Turpan and Kuqa, the folk customs zone in Kashi (Kashgar), and the Ili grasslands. In 2008, Xinjiang hosted 22.3132 million foreign and domestic visitors, and reported nearly 20 billion yuan in tourism revenues.
- Regional economic growth coordinated. The state and the autonomous region have supported areas with advantageous conditions to take the development lead, while adopting preferential policies and measures to boost the development of southern Xinjiang (with the focus on Kashi, Hotan and Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture) as well as pastureland and frontier areas, for more balanced development between southern and northern Xinjiang, and between urban and rural areas.
The economic belt on the northern slope of the Tianshan Mountains will take the initiative in taking on the industries from China's eastern coast, so as to build a new industrial base. Urumqi-Changji integration will be accelerated, while construction of national export processing zones, development zones and industrial parks will be sped up, and a modern service sector will be further developed. Based on oil and gas resources, and thermal power and coal-chemical industries, the construction of the Turpan-Hami petrochemical belt on the southern slope of the Tianshan Mountains will be expedited to seek a congregating effect of large projects to form groups of ancillary industries.
Great efforts will be made to promote the economic and social development of the three prefectures (i.e., Kashi, Hotan and Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture) in southern Xinjiang, with priorities on a number of projects that are central to long-term development and improvement of people's livelihood, such as quakeproof housing, transformation of the old town of Kashi, rural infrastructure construction, underground water tapping, reclamation of saline-alkali lands, provision of safe drinking water, and spread of biogas in the countryside. Preferential policies shall be adopted to improve production and living conditions in pastureland and frontier areas, and to accelerate their development.
The great economic achievements are the results of concerted efforts by all peoples of Xinjiang, and of support from the central government and the entire nation. Over the years, the central government has, in formulating plans on national economic and social development, listed Xinjiang's projects in infrastructure, agricultural development and a modern industrial system construction as key state projects enjoying preferential policies and funding support.
From 1950 to 2008, the central government invested 386.23 billion yuan in Xinjiang, accounting for 25.7% of the total investment in the region. From 1955 (when the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was established) to 2008, Xinjiang received a total of 375.202 billion yuan in subsidies from the central budget. Along with the implementation of the western region development campaign in 2000, the amount of subsidies has grown by 24.4% on average annually, reaching 68.56 billion yuan in 2008. The central government has increased capital input and support to the region by using loans from international financial organizations and foreign governments.
In recent years, to optimize Xinjiang's industrial structure, the central government has moved a number of enterprises and factories from the economically more developed southeast coast to Xinjiang, and transferred engineers and technicians from other areas to the region's newly built pillar enterprises. A large number of workers from Xinjiang's ethnic minorities have been selected to work as interns in other areas, thus fostering a contingent of skilled workers for the region within a short period.
Moreover, the various municipalities and provinces have been paired up with different parts of Xinjiang to provide the latter with large sums of capital, technology and talents, which have played an important role in the region's development. On the one hand, the more-developed areas have dispatched technicians, teachers, doctors, management personnel and other professionals to work in Xinjiang's prefectures and counties, to disseminate advanced technology and concepts. On the other, Xinjiang has dispatched teams of its own officials, technicians and workers from Party and government organs, as well as economic management departments, to work and study in relevant provinces and municipalities.
In recent years, at the request of the central government, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Shandong, Liaoning, Jiangxi and Henan as well as 15 state-owned large enterprises have been paired up with 33 counties (or cities) in southern Xinjiang to provide them with economic, scientific and technological, and cultural assistance.
II. Remarkable Improvement in People's Lives
Having eliminated poverty and solved basic subsistence problems, the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have now set their eyes on more prosperous lives, along with marked improvement in their standard of living.
In 2008, the per-capita net income of farmers in Xinjiang was 3,503 yuan, which is 28 times more than that of 1978, and 1.2 times more than that of 2000 when the western development campaign was launched; the per-capita disposable income of urban residents reached 11,432 yuan, which is 35 times more than that of 1978, and double that of 2001. The per-capita deposited savings of urban and rural residents averaged 14 yuan in 1955, 52 yuan in 1978, 4,913 yuan in 2000, and 11,972 yuan in 2008. Per-capita consumption was 122 yuan in 1952, 181 yuan in 1978, 2,662 yuan in 2000, and 4,890 yuan in 2007.
Graphics shows Per-capita Deposited Savings of Xinjiang Residents. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)
Fig. 3 Per-capita Consumption of Xinjiang Residents (Unit: yuan)
Graphics shows Per-capita Consumption of Xinjiang Residents. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)
The consumption levels of rural and urban residents have steadily risen. Average per-capita amount of grain rose from 195.62 kg in 1949 to 300.09 kg in 1978, and further to 426.60 kg in 2008; average per-capita amount of cotton rose from 1.18 kg in 1949 to 4.46 kg in 1978, reaching 141.52 kg in 2008; and average per-capita amount of meat was 11.68 kg in 1949, 7.83 kg in 1978, and increased to 53.85 kg in 2008.
Fig 4. Average Per-capita Amount of Grain and Cotton (Unit: kg)
Graphics shows Average Per-capita Amount of Grain and Cotton. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)
The consumption structure has changed. The Engel's Coefficient (the proportion of food consumption) for rural residents was 60.8% in 1978, 50.0% in 2001, and 42.5% in 2008; while for urban residents it was 57.3% in 1980, 36.4% in 2001, and 37.3% in 2008.
Family consumption patterns are shifting from everyday items to services, culture, education, travel, healthcare, credit, information, private cars, and luxury housing. The consumption structure is changing from agricultural products like foodstuffs to electronic products for comfort and leisure. Food consumption is shifting from staple foods to non-cereal foods stressing nutritional balance. Clothing consumption is following the trends of readymade garments, latest fashions, brand names and unique styles. The consumption on home appliances has experienced a shift from bicycles, sewing machines, watches and radios, to color TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines and cameras, as well as personal computers (PCs), video cameras, pianos and gym facilities. Now, cars are also becoming more affordable for an increasing number of families.
Fig. 5 Engel's Coefficient for Xinjiang Residents
Graphics shows Engel's Coefficient for Xinjiang Residents. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)
In the cities, every 100 households owned 2.78 air-conditioners in 2000, and 11.18 in 2008; 4.81 cell phones in 2000, and 144.40 in 2008; 5.68 PCs in 2000, and 41.32 in 2008; and 0.82 private cars in 2000, and 4.62 in 2008.
Fig. 6 Consumption on Home Appliances by Rural Households
Graphics shows Consumption on Home Appliances by Rural Households. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)
Fig. 7 Consumption on Home Appliances by Urban Households
Graphics shows Consumption on Home Appliances by Urban Households. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)
Housing conditions have also greatly improved. Per-capita floor space in the countryside was 10.2 sq m in 1983, 17.25 sq m in 2000, and 22.79 sq m in 2008; while per-capita floor space in cities was 11.9 sq m in 1983, 20.06 sq m in 2000, increasing to 27.3 sq m in 2008.
Presently, 97.86% of the population in cities have access to tap water and the rate is 87.18% in county seats. While 89.33% of people in cities have access to cooking gas, the rate is 66.67% in county seats. In cities and towns the rate of centralized heating is 51.2%, the rate of sewage treatment 68%, and the rate of treatment of domestic waste is 16%. The urban green-coverage is 30.49%, the vegetation-land ratio is 26.19%, and per-capita public green area is 6.94 sq m.
In recent years, reasonably priced clean gas has become available to more than 300,000 households in 23 counties and cities in southern Xinjiang, including Korla, Hotan, Kashi, Artux,Aksu, Moyu, Lop and Shule. The number of household gas users in southern Xinjiang keeps growing by 1,000 every month. The felling and burning of poplar trees for household fuel has become a thing of the past.
Fig. 8 Per-capita Floor Space in Xinjiang (Unit: sq m)
Graphics shows Per-capita Floor Space in Xinjiang. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)
Before the founding of the PRC in 1949, Xinjiang had but one college, nine secondary schools and 1,355 primary schools. Only 19.8% of school-age children attended primary school, and the overall illiteracy rate was a shocking 90%. Unprecedented changes have taken place in education in Xinjiang after 1949. At present, Xinjiang has basically made the nine-year compulsory education universal and eliminated illiteracy in the young and middle-aged population. Adult and vocational education started from scratch, and has been developing steadily. Since 2006, with the introduction of a new mechanism that guarantees rural education funding, Xinjiang's primary and secondary school students have enjoyed free compulsory education. In 2008, the government granted living subsidies to all underprivileged students who live at school and exempted urban students from tuition fees during their compulsory education period. Since 2007, the state has initiated an annual budget of 129 million yuan for the education of 51,000 very poor university students and 95,000 secondary and higher vocational school students, 70% of whom come from ethnic minorities. In 2008, the Xinjiang autonomous region government invested a total of 18.77 billion yuan in the region's education system, representing a year-on-year increase of 32.3%. Statistics from that year show that Xinjiang had 4,159 primary schools with 2,012,000 students, and a 99.6% enrollment rate for school-age children. There were 1,973 secondary schools with 1,722,000 students, and 32 institutions of higher learning with 241,000 undergraduate and 10,300 graduate students in total.
The state gives priority to education for ethnic minorities and has enacted special policies to support its development. To ensure their rights to higher education, the state adopted favorable enrollment policies for ethnic-minority students in the 1950s, now including further policies for proportional enrollment, separate examinations and admission scores. The state has set up primary and secondary boarding schools in farming and pastoral areas, providing free accommodation and food, as well as books and stationery. The state is committed to the cultivation of high-caliber professionals from minority backgrounds, sending promising students for overseas studies and through programs such as Specialized Training for Xinjiang Minority Sci-Tech Personnel and the High-Level Minority Talents Program. To develop education for ethnic minorities, it encourages the use of minority languages in classroom teaching. For ethnic groups with their own written languages in Xinjiang, school education is conducted in their own languages. Over the years, special state funds have been earmarked for the compilation and printing of textbooks in Uyghur, Kazak, Mongolian, Xibe and Kirgiz languages, satisfying the needs of minority students for textbooks of major courses. In Xinjiang, test papers for the annual national college entrance examinations are printed in Uyghur, Han, Kazak and Mongolian languages.
With social and economic development and increasing exchanges between different people of various ethnic groups, more and more minority people also wish to learn the Han Chinese language. In view that around 70% of the 10 million ethnic minorities in Xinjiang hardly understood written Han Chinese, therefore posing challenges for the minority people themselves and the region's development, the autonomous region government decided in 2004 to promote bilingual education among minority students, requiring high school graduates to master both their mother tongue and the Han Chinese language. In 2008, as proposed by the Uyghur community, bilingual training programs for teachers and preschool children were carried out. Today, bilingual education efforts have proved to be a significant measure for better understanding and communication between different ethnic groups, and the development of relations among the various ethnic groups featuring equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony, and promoting common prosperity for all peoples.
To provide better basic education for minority students in frontier areas, from 2000 the state opened special classes for Xinjiang students in 13 high schools in 12 more-developed provinces and municipalities, including Beijing and Shanghai. By 2008, 28 cities in 12 provinces and municipalities had altogether 50 such classes for a total of 5,000 students, quintupling the initial enrollment. These special classes have to date enrolled 24,000 students over nine years, with 90% of the graduates advancing to higher education in inland universities, 85% at key schools. Since 2003, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region government has followed suit by starting junior-high classes in eight cities, including Urumqi and Shihezi, recruiting 5,000 students each year, mainly primary school graduates from farming and pastoral areas, especially poverty-stricken or border areas. More than 80% are children from minority farming and herding families.
Xinjiang's scientific pursuits did not really start up until after the PRC was founded in 1949. Six decades of efforts have basically established a well-structured scientific research and development system and professional teams with high achievements to support regional scientific development. By the end of 2007, a total of 1,972,000 professionals were working in Xinjiang, and by the end of 2008 these people had produced over 6,000 major scientific achievements, winning nearly 200 national awards and registering 200,000 patents. Scientific and high-tech enterprises continue to explore an innovative development path, drawing global attention with well-known names such as Gold Wind Technology, TBEA and other companies.
Before 1949, Xinjiang had no professional arts groups or academic research organizations for arts. In the past six decades, with extensive support from the government, arts and cultural facilities of all types have been established step by step, providing rich and colorful cultural activities to local communities. Statistics show that, by 2008 the region had 119 arts and performance groups, two literature and art research institutes, two arts creation centers, 15 mass art galleries, 94 cultural centers, and 1,034 village and town cultural stations. A total of 4,355 individuals became creative and performance professionals. The region has 93 public libraries and 47 museums. In addition, it has six radio stations and eight TV stations at the autonomous regional level, and 93.5% of the local population has access to radio and TV programs. By 2008 households subscribing to cable TV services reached 1,638,900, while those with digital cable TV exceeded 324,200. Since the implementation of the western region development strategy, the state has invested a total of 2.484 billion yuan in developing Xinjiang's cultural facilities. In recent years, the Xinjiang government has initiated a series of cultural programs for the general public, including organizing cultural and recreation activities in city squares and rural villages. The government also schedules professionals to go on tour to rural villages, publicizing cultural, scientific and medical knowledge. Public cultural construction projects have also boomed, introducing different cultures and promoting diverse folk cultures as well as Silk Road border cultures. The government has also set up village libraries, and radio and TV stations all over the autonomous region, to connect local peoples with the rest of the world. Other key projects include sending books and publications to Xinjiang and constructing information centers to share resources with other areas of the country. These measures have significantly promoted the development of Xinjiang's cultural programs and endeavors.
Before 1949 outbreaks of endemic and epidemic diseases were frequent due to the low level of Xinjiang's health and medical services. The overall mortality rate was 20.82 for every 1,000 people, while infant mortality rate was an astonishing 420-600 for every 1,000 births. The average life expectancy was below 30 years. In 1949 Xinjiang had only 54 medical centers, which were located in a few cities and towns, with a total of 696 beds. Every 10,000 persons had to share 1.6 beds and 0.19 doctors. Over the past 60 years, the central government has been making more and more investments in Xinjiang's medical services. By 2008, Xinjiang had altogether 7,238 medical service centers, including 1,629 hospitals with a total of 93,600 beds, and 43,800 doctors. That means 36 hospital beds and 21 doctors for every 10,000 people. Health and epidemic prevention institutions have been established out of nothing, and a systematic urban and rural health and disease-control network has been formed. Local disease control and prevention capabilities have greatly improved; some endemic diseases, such as smallpox, have been eradicated, and the incidence of other endemic and epidemic diseases has been significantly reduced.
Since the mid-1970s, Xinjiang has implemented a planned immunization program, with the vaccination rate rising steadily over the years. The improvement of healthcare services has greatly improved people's health conditions and quality of life. According to 2008 statistics, the general mortality rate was 4.88 for every 1,000 persons, and infant mortality was 29.76 per 1,000 births. The population's average life expectancy has reached 72 years. Health services in farming and pastoral areas have significantly improved, and a three-tier disease-prevention and healthcare network has been established in counties, townships and villages. Xinjiang implemented the new rural cooperative medical care system in 2003, and 89 cities and counties, or 94.6% of the rural areas, were included in the system by 2008, covering 10,059,000 farmers and herders, and those who actually participated in the program were 9,503,000, or 94.5% of the population covered by the program.
Employment has a vital bearing on people's livelihood. Over the years the Xinjiang government has been committed to the implementation of proactive employment policies and the promotion of employment growth through sustainable economic development. The government has taken effective measures to increase job opportunities and expand the scale of employment. In 2008, a total of 8,475,800 people in Xinjiang were employed. The registered unemployment rate in urban areas was 3.7%. Since the implementation of the western region development strategy, over 300,000 people in Xinjiang have been employed or reemployed each year. Local human resources agencies have been set up and on the increase; and market forces are playing a fundamental role in allocating human resources. A public employment services system has taken shape, comprising of comprehensive services centers at county and district levels, grassroots-level services posts in communities, townships and villages, along with other types of services entities. In 2008, there were altogether 107 public services centers, with 3,944 employees providing resident services and other services.
In recent years, export of labor services has become a new channel for Xinjiang to expand employment. For many years people living in remote areas of southern Xinjiang experienced hardships, since they mainly relied on the not very profitable farming and animal husbandry for a living. Since 2006, the Xinjiang government has launched a labor-export program first in southern Xinjiang's Jiashi County and then throughout the whole autonomous region. Through the program local rural residents could apply for positions at inland companies after signing up and going through training courses that give them the necessary qualifications. The local government is required to appoint a leader (or leaders) who supervise the migrant workers in their new company, and also take along with them Halal cooks to cater to their needs. Since 2006, Jiashi County has exported some 19,000 person-times of labor services to inland enterprises, making a total profit of almost 200 million yuan. The migrant workers enjoy an average per-capita yearly net income of 7,000 yuan, double that of local farmers and herders in 2008. The Xinjiang government attaches importance to professional training for migrant workers, spending 300 million to 400 million yuan each year on such trainings.
Since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policies at the end of 1978, Xinjiang's social-security system has gradually taken shape, to provide basic living guarantees for the people. The 2008 figures show that Xinjiang has 799 community services facilities in urban areas. About 9,645,700 people have taken part in the five major insurance programs, of basic pension insurance, unemployment insurance, medical insurance, industrial injury insurance, and maternity insurance. A total of 638,000 urban residents are receiving the minimum living allowance from the government. Social welfare institutions of various types have 19,000 beds by the end of 2008, taking in 14,000 residents under their care. From July 2007, the rural minimum living allowance system was introduced, providing subsidies for farmers and herders with annual average per-capita income lower than 700 yuan. In 2008, 1,310,000 farmers and herders in extreme poverty received the subsidies. By the end of 2007, medical aid services were available in every city, district and county. In 2008 the government invested 310 million yuan in medical assistance services for a total of 2,164,000 users, including 938,000 receiving medical services and 1,226,000 persons who have participated in medical insurance programs or cooperative medical care programs.
Economic development in such a large region is not balanced. Since the mid-1980s, the local government has launched a large-scale poverty-alleviation campaign, aimed at ensuring basic subsistence for the impoverished rural population, and with a major focus on the promotion of economic and cultural development. The program also underwent changes, from providing money and food, to well-planned development-oriented poverty reduction efforts with good organization and clear goals. Over the period from 1978 to 2008, Xinjiang's impoverished population decreased from 5.32 million to 2.53 million, and their living and working conditions have been significantly improved. In recent years the state has put more efforts into poverty-alleviation in southern Xinjiang, where the situation is the most severe. From 2001 to 2007, 78% of the central and local governments' poverty-alleviation funds, work-relief subsidies and subsidized loans were invested in southern Xinjiang, where 70% of the total poverty-alleviation programs were based. Since 2004, earthquake-resistant housing programs have been carried out in quake-prone areas, a six-year plan to provide safe housing for people in these areas. The state invested 41.2 billion yuan in these programs by the end of 2008, constructing and fortifying 1,895,000 houses. In southern Xinjiang, 742,300 impoverished farming families have since moved into quakeproof housing.
IV. Preservation of Ethnic Cultures
The people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang have created rich and vibrant cultures which have made unique contributions to the development of Chinese culture. Originating out of a pivotal region along the ancient Silk Road, Xinjiang culture has acquired strong regional and ethnic characteristics, featuring profound heritage, varied forms as well as rich and diverse folk arts. For many years, China has been continually devoted to collecting, sorting out, translating and publishing the cultural heritage of the various ethnic minority groups, protecting their places of historic interest and scenic beauty and other valuable cultural and historical heritages. A preservation system combining government guidance, academic support and public participation has been established, which has ensured the inheritance and development of the fine cultural heritage of all ethnic groups.
Minority folk music and dances are a major cultural component in the culture of Xinjiang. Since the founding of PRC in 1949, art troupes at various levels, art schools and institutes have been established in Xinjiang; they have rescued, collected, compiled and preserved large numbers of folk music and dance works, and trained one generation after another of art workers to pass on and develop further traditional folk music and dances. In the 1990s, some books or book series related to art, including Collection of Chinese Ethnic and Folk Musical Instruments Compositions (Xinjiang Volume), Collection of Chinese Drama Music (Xinjiang Volume), Collection of Chinese Folk Songs (Xinjiang Volume) and Collection of Chinese Ethnic and Folk Dances (Xinjiang Volume), were published, thus effectively guaranteeing the preservation of all categories of fine traditional music and dance of the various ethnic groups in the form of music, music scores and images, as well as text and audiovisual form.
Twelve Muqams, known as "Mother of Uyghur Music," is a group of classical music pieces combining Uyghur singing, dancing and music, considered a treasure of Chinese ethnic music. Before the founding of PRC in 1949, Twelve Muqams had almost become lost. In August 1951, Twelve Muqams was listed at the top of arts that called for rescue by the people's government of the then Xinjiang Province, which mobilized efforts for systematic research, collection and compilation. In 1955, music recording along with notation and lyric collation of Twelve Muqams was completed; and the music score of Twelve Muqams was published in 1960, marking the turning point from a purely oral legacy to a textual heritage. After the 1980s, the government of the autonomous region established a Muqam research institution and a Muqam art troupe, both of which specialize in collecting, sorting out, researching and performing Uyghur classical music, folk songs and dances, especially the muqams, thus further promoting the rescue, preservation and development of the muqam arts. In 2003, Xinjiang Uyghur muqam arts were included in the first group of pilot projects in the "Chinese Ethnic and Folk Cultural Preservation Program." In 2005, Xinjiang Uyghur Muqam Arts of China was approved by UNESCO as "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity."
The Sixty-two Kongeri (62 melodious divertimentos) is a comprehensive art form mainly composed of kui (instrumental music composition) while combining folk songs, dances and ballad-singing, representing the finest of Kazak folk culture. Since the 1990s, the government has set up special organizations for the collection, compilation and publication of Akku Kongeri (White Swan Divertimento).
Xinjiang boasts a wealth of folk literary resources of all ethnic minorities. With state support over the years, the government of the autonomous region has formulated plans and organized efforts to systematically rescue and preserve the folk literary works of the various ethnic minorities, resulting in the collection, compilation, translation and publication of a large number of folk literary heritages of the Uyghur, Kazak, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Tajik, Xibe, Uzbek and other peoples, including folk song lyrics, myths and legends, humorous anecdotes and stories, fables and proverbs. Great achievements have been made in collecting, editing, translating, publishing and researching of folk epics, including Manas, Janger and Life of King Gesar. A Comprehensive Turkic Dictionary and other exceptional minority historical and cultural heritages have been effectively preserved. The Uyghur literary classics Rabiya and Se'idi and Ferhad and Sherin, and the Kazak long poem Seliha and Semen were edited and translated into Chinese and published. The compilation of Collection of Chinese Folk Literature (Xinjiang Volume) has also been completed.
Ancient books of Xinjiang minorities, in multiple languages with extensive distribution, represent a major component of China's traditional cultural heritage. In the early 1980s, a planning and leading team, along with an office in charge of the collection, editing and publication of ancient books of ethnic minorities, was established in Xinjiang. Similar organizations were successively established in four autonomous prefectures, eight other prefectures, one prefecture-level city and several counties. Since then, the work to rescue, collect, edit and publish such ancient books have been in full swing throughout the whole autonomous region. By 2008, the Xinjiang Minorities Ancient Books Editing Office collected and registered 20,518 volumes (or pieces), with over 100 titles published, including facsimiles of three handwritten copies of the Uyghur classic Kutadgu Bilig, the Kazak medical opus Annals of Medicine, and the Xibe Shamanist classic Shaman Divine Songs, among others.
To promote the rescue, compilation, research and preservation of intangible cultural heritage in the autonomous region, the Xinjiang Intangible Cultural Heritage Preservation Research Center was established. It formulated and promulgated regulations on how to administer intangible cultural heritage preservation projects and provisional rules on applying for and appraisal of masterpieces of the intangible cultural heritages. In 2006 and 2008, 63 intangible cultural heritage projects in Xinjiang, including the Kirgiz epic Manas, Mongolian epic Janger and Kazak Aytes, were listed in the first and second groups of national intangible cultural heritage.
Xinjiang is a region very rich in historical sites. By 2008, over 4,000 cultural relics sites had been found in Xinjiang, of which 58 were listed as key spots of cultural relics under state protection. The state has always attached great importance to the conservation and renovation of historical sites in Xinjiang, and significant achievements have been made in legislation on cultural relics preservation, archeological study and excavation, renovation and conservation of cultural relics, and their exhibition. Under the guiding principle of "giving priority to both conservation and rescue," a large-scale renovation has been carried out to the region's key cultural relics sites, including the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, Kumtura Thousand Buddha Caves, Simsim Thousand Buddha Caves, Bezkilik Thousand Buddha Caves, Gaochang Ancient City Ruins, Hami King's Tomb, Former Residence of Yili General, etc. A number of renowned architectures representing the preeminent historical and cultural heritages of the Uyghur, Mongolian, Hui, Xibe and other peoples have been properly renovated and preserved, including the Tomb of Afak Hoja in Kashi, Tomb of Tughluk Tumur in Huocheng, Zhaosu Lamasery, Former Residence of a Mongolian Prince in Hejing, and Chimtoghrak Manor. In 2009, the "Key Cultural Relics Rescue and Conservation Program for the Silk Road (Xinjiang Section)" was launched in the autonomous region. Extensive financial and human resources have been mobilized for the comprehensive rescue and preservation of large historical sites and key cultural heritages along the main route of the ancient Silk Road in Xinjiang.
In recent years, significant progress has been made in the conservation of Kashi, as well as other famous historical and cultural cities. Kashi was historically a place of strategic importance on the Silk Road. The city and its culture have distinctive ethnic characteristics. But the city is located in an area frequently hit by earthquakes, and houses in the old city of Kashi are mostly old and dilapidated, extremely vulnerable to earthquakes or fire. To protect people's life and property, and improve their living conditions, while enhancing the quake-resistance of the old houses and preserving the original appearance of the ancient city, China officially undertook the comprehensive restoration of dilapidated houses in old Kashi city in February 2009. Three billion yuan will be spent on the renovation work which will be done in line with the national conservation standards for historical and cultural cities. During the renovation efforts will be made to maintain Kashi's original appearance, so the structures will keep their original architectural and cultural characteristics after the renovation.
Folk cultures and arts in Xinjiang have seen further development on the basis of inheriting the past legacy. Traditional cultural events, such as the Uyghur's "Meshrep," the Kazak's "Aytes," the Kirgiz's "Kobuz Ballad Singing Fair," the Mongolian "Nadam Fair," the Xibe's "West Moving Festival" and the Han people's "Lantern Festival," have been widely held. A number of impressive dramas with rich ethnic and regional characteristics have been staged, such as the modern drama Ghunchem, the Uyghur play Gherip and Senem, the acrobatics show Darwaz, as well as the Kazak Aytes, Kirgiz Manaschi ballad drama Manas. In the 21st century, more than 20 folk song and dance performances, including The Good Place Called Xinjiang, Joyous Songs of Tianshan Mountain and Kashgar, have won national prizes.
To ensure minority languages keep pace with the development of our time, China has set up the "Work Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Languages and Scripts of Ethnic Minorities" and research institutes of minority languages at varied levels, responsible for regulation, standardization and scientific research and administration of the languages of the ethnic minorities. With government support, software such as the "Bogda Uyghur-Kazak-Kirgiz Languages Typesetting System," "Xibe and Manchu Languages Processing and Efficient Printing System," "Xinjiang 2000" and "Arabic and Multiple Languages Typesetting System," has been developed. They provide clues to the standards and software development methods for languages of other ethnic minorities in terms of software code, keyboard layout and input methods.
V. Upholding Ethnic Equality and Unity
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is inhabited by people of many ethnic groups. According to the fifth national census in 2000, Xinjiang is home to people of 55 ethnic groups, including the Uyghur, Han and Kazak. In 2008, Xinjiang's population totaled 21.308 million, of which people of ethnicities other than the Han was 12.945 million, or 60.8% of the total. In 2007, there are three ethnic groups each with a population over one million, namely, Uyghur (9.651 million), Han (8.239 million), Kazak (1.484 million); three ethnic groups each with a population between 100,000 and one million: Hui (943,000), Kirgiz (182,000), and Mongolian (177,000); and six ethnic groups each with a population between 10,000 and 100,000: Tajik (45,000), Xibe (42,000), Manchu (26,000), Uzbek (16,000), Russian (12,000), and the Dongxiang. The population of all the other ethnic groups is less than 10,000.
Graphics shows Ethnic Groups in Xinjiang with Population over 10,000. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)
Xinjiang has been inhabited by diverse peoples since ancient times. The inhabitants of Xinjiang all migrated from other areas historically. According to historical records, in 101 BC the Han Dynasty (206-220 BC) began stationing garrison troops to open up land for crop cultivation in Luntai (Bugur), Quli and other areas. Later, it sent more troops to all other parts of Xinjiang for the same purpose. After the Protectorate of the Western Regions was established in 60 BC by the Han central government, the inflow of Han people to Xinjiang, including officials, soldiers and merchants, never stopped. By the end of the dynasty, Han residents could be found in scattered settlements in Xinjiang, with garrison reclamation points forming compact communities. The Han thus became one of the earlier peoples who inhabited Xinjiang. After 1759, the government of the Qing Dynasty sent Manchu, Mongolian, Xibe, Daur (Suolun), Han and Hui troops to Xinjiang in order to strengthen the frontier defenses of the region, and encouraged Uyghurs to move from southern Xinjiang to Ili in the north, as well as Han and Hui people from inland areas to migrate to Xinjiang to promote production. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, a great number of Russian, Uzbek and Tatar people settled down in the region. When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Xinjiang was comprised of 13 ethnic groups, with Uyghurs as the majority. Each ethnic group was characterized by living together or mixing with other groups, or in compact communities. The majority in southern Xinjiang were Uyghurs, while northern Xinjiang was mainly inhabited by Han and Kazak peoples. The Kirgiz, Xibe, Tajik and Daur peoples mostly lived in compact communities, while most of the remaining ethnic groups reside scattered among other groups.
Since the founding of the PRC in 1949, an increasing number of people have moved to and from Xinjiang, making more prominent the phenomenon of a multiethnic population living together. Especially since reform and opening-up in 1978, many citizens, guided by market forces, have frequently moved simultaneously and on their own will between Xinjiang's rural and urban areas, between its northern and southern areas, and between Xinjiang and other inland areas, for the purposes of education, employment, business or job-seeking. In 2008, about 240,000 surplus laborers went from Xinjiang to work in the economically developed coastal areas. In addition, there are large seasonal flows of people moving within Xinjiang or between Xinjiang and other inland areas. Each year from late August to November, hundreds of thousands of people from other provinces and municipalities go to Xinjiang to pick cotton.
The socio-economic development of Xinjiang has given rise to a recurrent flow of labor, leading to a series of changes in the population and ethnic distribution in the region. First, the number of ethnic groups has increased. In 2000, except for the Jino people, Xinjiang was inhabited by people of 55 of China's 56 ethnic groups. Second, the population of almost every ethnic group in Xinjiang is increasing. From 1978 to 2007, the populations of the region's four largest groups - Uyghur, Han, Kazak and Hui - have increased, respectively, 74%, 61%, 81% and 78%. Third, the percentage of the population of each minority in their traditional settlements has decreased. For example, the ratio of Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang's three prefectures, namely, Kashi, Hotan and Aksu, to the total Uyghur population in Xinjiang fell from 84.6% in 1944 to 71.5% in 2007. The percentage of Kazaks in the Kazak Autonomous Prefecture of Ili to the entire Kazak population in Xinjiang decreased from 83.4% in 1944 to 76.8% in 2007. Fourth, the multiethnic mixture in the cities and towns of Xinjiang has become more prominent, and the population of ethnic minorities has increased in the cities. Urumqi, the capital of the autonomous region, is inhabited by people from 52 ethnic groups, and the percentage of minority residents in the city's total population increased from 18% in 1978 to 27% in 2007.
The diverse peoples of Xinjiang have formed deep friendships while living together for generations. Over the last 60 years, they have established, developed and consolidated strong ties of mutual respect, trust, support and harmony. These make up the important contents and fundamental guarantees for the advancement of Xinjiang.
Recognizing the existence of each ethnic group and guaranteeing its equal rights in every aspect is the fundamental principle and policy of the Chinese government to handle ethnic problems. It is also the foundation of all other policies concerning the ethnic issue. The Constitution of the PRC stipulates: "All ethnic groups in the People's Republic of China are equal. The state protects the lawful rights and interests of ethnic minorities, and upholds and develops the relationship of equality, unity and mutual assistance among all of China's peoples. Discrimination against and oppression of any ethnic group is prohibited; any acts that undermine national unity or instigate secession are prohibited." In Xinjiang, citizens of every ethnic group enjoy the rights prescribed by the Constitution and laws, including freedom of religious belief, and rights to vote and stand for election, to equally administer state affairs, to receive education, to use and develop their own spoken and written languages, and to preserve and advance the traditional culture of their own peoples.
Over the past 60 years, China's central government and local governments in Xinjiang have made tremendous efforts to protect equal political rights and social status for each and all of Xinjiang's peoples, and achieve their common development and prosperity. Before the founding of the PRC in 1949, there were still remnants of feudal serfdom in some areas of southern Xinjiang, and in certain individual areas serfdom was even found intact. In the 1950s, democratic reform was carried out in Xinjiang. The abolishment of the old system enabled minority peoples to enjoy basic human rights, with their rights to participate in the administration of state affairs under special protection. In the previous terms of National People's Congress (NPC), deputies were selected from minority communities in Xinjiang for proportional representation. All 60 deputies in the Xinjiang delegation to the 11th National People's Congress came from 11 ethnic groups, and 60% of them were ethnic minorities. At present, some members of the NPC Standing Committee and the leadership of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference are from Xinjiang's minority ethnic groups. In the local people's congresses of Xinjiang, there are deputies from each ethnic group who live in compact communities. In the Ninth People's Congress of the autonomous region, the 542 deputies were comprised of 13 ethnicities, and the proportion of minority deputies accounted for 65.5%, four percentage points higher than the ratio of the minority population to the total population of the region.
In Xinjiang, political equality for the various ethnic groups is realized mainly through the system of ethnic regional autonomy. Under the unified leadership of the state, implementing ethnic regional autonomy in place where ethnic minorities live in compact communities to allow them to manage their own internal affairs is a basic policy for China to resolve ethnic problems; it is also an important political system of China. Founded in 1955, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is an ethnic autonomous area with the Uyghurs as the principal body of the local population. Within the territory of the autonomous region, there also exist areas where other minorities live in compact communities. Thus, five autonomous prefectures for four ethnic groups - the Kazak, Hui, Kirgiz and Mongolian - have been established, in addition to six autonomous counties for five ethnic groups - the Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Tajik and Xibe, and 43 ethnic townships. Xinjiang is the country's only autonomous region with autonomous areas at all three administrative levels (region, prefecture and county). When it comes to the composition of deputies to the people's congresses and the appointment of cadres, the region's autonomous organs at each level have adhered to the principles of equal participation and common management, so as to ensure that all peoples become masters of the country. In light of actual conditions, these organs shall formulate and implement autonomous laws, local laws, and decisions of legal force, to safeguard their rights of autonomy in accordance with the law. By the end of 2008, the people's congress of the autonomous region and its standing committee had altogether enacted 127 local laws and regulations, and approved 28 statutory resolutions and decisions, and approved 100 local laws and regulations formulated by Urumqi City and the governments of the various autonomous prefectures and counties.
The state and the autonomous region have always considered the selection, training and employment of cadres from among ethnic minorities to be a key to carrying out the policy of ethnic regional autonomy. A large number of outstanding cadres of minority origin have been trained and fostered by being sent out for study, receiving training, working at the grassroots level, or at different places through job exchanges or on rotation basis. In this way, the numbers of cadres have increased, their overall quality improved, ensuring corresponding percentages of such cadres at various levels and categories. The number of Xinjiang's cadres from minority ethnic groups was 46,000 in 1955, 67,000 in 1965, 93,000 in 1975, 202,000 in 1985, 272,000 in 1995, 340,000 in 2005 and 363,000 in 2008. The last figure accounts for 51.25% of the total number of cadres in Xinjiang. In today's Xinjiang, the heads of the autonomous region, autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties, as well as the heads of the standing committees of local people's congresses, the presidents of the people's courts and the procurator-generals of the people's procuratorates at corresponding levels are citizens from the ethnic group(s) exercising regional autonomy in the areas concerned. An overwhelming number of the heads at the prefecture and city levels are citizens of ethnic minority origin.
Graphics shows Numbers of Ethnic Minority Cadres in Xinjiang. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)
The government of the autonomous region has adopted a variety of special policies and measures to implement and protect all its peoples' equal rights in political and social life. Promulgated in 1993 and revised in 2002, "Regulations for Work Concerning Spoken and Written Languages in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" enshrines in legal form the equal rights of all peoples in terms of their own spoken and written languages, encouraging people to study the spoken and written languages of other ethnic groups. Enacted in 1996, "Measure Concerning Implementation of the PRC Lawon Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" stipulates that all commodities produced and sold in the autonomous region should have both the relevant minority and Han Chinese languages written on their packaging and users' manuals; that business operators who have the Muslim phrase "halal" (qingzhen) or its symbol visible on their business premises or on food packaging or labeling, should be approved by ethnic affairs administrative departments of the people's government above the county level.
The state adheres to the principle that the spoken and written languages of all peoples are equal, and opposes linguistic privilege in any form. In light of actual conditions in Xinjiang, the government of the autonomous region promulgated, respectively in 1988 and 1993, "Provisional Regulations of Administration for the Use of Minority Languages in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" and "Regulations for Work Concerning Spoken and Written Languages in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," which legally enshrine the freedom and rights of ethnic minorities to use their own spoken and written languages. Now, Xinjiang has 13 ethnic groups inhabiting there for generations and using 10 spoken and written languages. The government organs of the autonomous region, prefectures and counties, in handling public affairs, use the language of the ethnic group exercising autonomy in that particular area as well as the Chinese language. Spoken and written languages of the minority peoples are widely used in news, publishing, radio, movies, and television programs. The Xinjiang Daily newspaper is printed in Uyghur, Han, Kazak and Mongolian languages, while the Xinjiang Television Station broadcasts its programs in the same four languages. The Xinjiang People's Publishing House uses the above four languages plus the Kirgiz and Xibe languages for its publications. Over 70% of books and audiovisual products published in Xinjiang use minority languages.
Respecting ethnic minorities' folkways and customs is an important aspect of ensuring equal rights for all peoples. State and local governments in Xinjiang have formulated a number of policies and regulations to show respect for and protect the customs of minority peoples in terms of food, attire, festivals, marriage and funerals, while acknowledging that all peoples have the freedom to maintain or reform their own folkways and customs. Every year the government of the autonomous region makes specific arrangements to guarantee the production and supply of meats and other foodstuffs consumed daily by ethnic minorities, so as to ensure the production and supply of special foods for all communities, especially the 10 groups believing in Islam. In Xinjiang, on the Ramadan and Kurban festivals, all Muslim communities may enjoy statutory holidays, while those of Russian background may observe their own statutory holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
Ethnic unity is central to guaranteeing equality among all China's ethnic groups. The state protects the legitimate rights and interests of ethnic minorities, while opposing estrangements, discrimination, hatred and conflicts between ethnic groups, as well as big ethnic chauvinism, especially Han chauvinism, and local nationalism. In Xinjiang, striving for unity among all its ethnic groups is of specific significance, because it is an important guarantee for accomplishing all work in the region. Over the years, the government of the autonomous region has strongly promoted the idea that "Everyone treasures the idea of ethnic unity, understands the policies on ethnic issues, and strives for and contributes to ethnic unity." Through their experience, the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have come to the conclusion that "the Han Chinese cannot live without the minority groups, that the minority groups cannot live without the Han Chinese, and no one minority group can live without the other minority groups (known as the 'three inseparable ties')." In 1982, Xinjiang took the lead in China to launch a campaign of commendation activities for endeavors towards ethnic unity. So far, the region has held five conferences commending a total of 862 model units and 1,520 exemplary individuals. Since 1983, the government of the region has launched an "educational month of ethnic unity" in May throughout the whole region, carrying out intensive and extensive public education work concerning ethnic unity. Now this work has been ongoing for 27 years. Xinjiang's primary schools right up through its universities, all include in their syllabuses courses concerning ethnic unity and knowledge of other ethnic groups. Through constant education, people of all communities in Xinjiang have been suffused with the concepts of equality and unity, and the idea of "three inseparable ties," and treasuring mutual support, respect and love has become a common practice.
In Xinjiang, ethnic relations featuring equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony are reflected in every aspect of social life. Influenced by their traditional ways of production and life, the Uyghur and Hui peoples tend to focus on business and food services, while Han people would grow vegetables, and Kazaks are more inclined toward pasturing. With their respective strengths, they have cooperated with one another, aiming at common development in a unified market and with the same production objectives. The unified social system, common political and economic organizations as well as shared community living have all helped form stable cooperative relationships between different communities and have made them become closer comrades, colleagues, neighbors and friends, thus greatly enhancing their understanding and friendship. According to a questionnaire survey conducted in more than 10 counties (or cities) in 2004 and 2005, among the Uyghur and Han urban residents, those who have more than two friends from other ethnic groups accounted for 65% and 61%. Those who have no friends outside their own ethnic group made up 30% and29%. In recent years, intermarriages have increased between people of different ethnicities. In Urumqi, the percentage of intermarriages in the city's registration was 2.1% (218 couples) in 1980, while the figure rose to 5.9% (811 couples) in 2003. In Tacheng, the percentage of intermarriages in the city's registration was 5.5% in 1995, rising to 39.5% in 2003. According to a 1987 survey conducted in a neighborhood inhabited by people from four ethnic groups, among 141 who have linguistic abilities, 48 people can use two languages, 16 use three languages, six use four languages, and one person could use five languages. Each time Muslim communities, such as Uyghur, Kazak and Hui, celebrate the Ramadan and Kurban, or when Han and Mongolian peoples celebrate their Spring Festival, friends and colleagues from other ethnic groups would send their best wishes and share in the festive celebrations.
VI. Protecting Citizens' Rights of Freedom of Religious Belief
Since ancient times, Xinjiang has always been a region with a number of religions existing side by side. The major religions in Xinjiang today are Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism and Daoism. The Chinese government enacts a policy of freedom of religious belief, which the government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has thoroughly implemented. It protects citizens' rights of freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law, safeguards the legitimate rights and interests of religious circles, and promotes healthy and orderly development of religion.
Freedom of religious belief is a basic right bestowed by the PRC Constitution on all its citizens. It is stipulated in the Constitution as follows: "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities." In addition, the State Council promulgated "Regulations on Religious Affairs," which stipulates: "Citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief. No organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in any religion or citizens who do not believe in any religion. Citizens who believe in religions and those who don't shall respect each other and coexist in harmony, as shall citizens who believe in different religions." Other relevant laws and regulations have specific provisions on the protection of citizens' freedom of religious belief. The state emphasizes that all citizens are equal before the law; that the citizens have the freedom to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; that the citizens enjoy the rights of freedom of religious belief and at the same time must carry out corresponding responsibilities; that anyone who violates others' rights of freedom of religious belief shall bear the legal liability; and that both religious citizens and non-religious citizens shall bear the same legal liability for breaking the law.
In Xinjiang, people of all ethnic groups fully enjoy the right of freedom in religious belief. The people's freedom to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion is protected by the law, and no state organ, public organization or individual may interfere with their choice. By the end of 2008, the autonomous region had 24,800 venues for religious activities, including mosques, churches and temples, in addition to over 29,000 clerical personnel, 91 religious organizations and two religious colleges. Since the 1980s, more than 50,000 people from Xinjiang have made pilgrimages to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. In recent years, the number of people from Xinjiang who make the pilgrimage each year has been around 2,700. By 2008, over 1,800 religious personages in Xinjiang had been elected to posts in people's congresses and committees of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at all levels. They have actively participated in deliberation and administration of state affairs on behalf of religious believers, and in exercising supervision over the government in respect to the implementation of the policy of freedom of religious belief.
The state and the government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region administer religious affairs and protect the legal rights and interests of believers, religious organizations and venues for religious activities in accordance with the laws. The State Council promulgated the "Regulations on Religious Affairs." The Standing Committee of the People's Congress of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region formulated and promulgated the "Regulations for the Administration of Religious Affairs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region." The government of the autonomous region formulated the "Provisional Regulations for the Administration of Religious Activity Venues in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," "Provisional Regulations for the Administration of Clergy in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" and "Provisional Regulations for the Administration of Religious Activities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region." These regulations further clarify that the citizens enjoy the right of freedom in religious belief, and the country protects normal religious activities, as well as the legal rights and interests of believers, religious organizations and venues for religious activities in accordance with the law; that believers, religious organizations and venues for religious activities should abide by the Constitution and related laws and regulations, and safeguard national unification, ethnic unity and social stability; that no organization or individual may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the state educational system, or in activities that harm state and public interests, as well as citizens' legal rights and interests; and that no one should use religion to interfere in the performing of administrative and judicial functions by the state.
According to corresponding laws and regulations, the autonomous region protects all normal religious activities held either at venues for religious activities or in believers' own homes in accordance with customary religious practices, such as worshipping Buddha, reciting scriptures, burning incense, worshipping, praying, preaching, attending Mass, being baptized or ordained, celebrating religious festivals, observing extreme unction, and holding memorial ceremonies, which are all protected by law as the affairs of religious bodies or believers themselves and may not be interfered with. However, the autonomous region shall ban, in accordance with the law, activities that make use of religion to intervene in the performing of administrative and judicial functions of the state, as well as education, marriage or civil lawsuits.
Religious affairs are developing in a normal and orderly manner in Xinjiang. Religious classics and books and magazines have been published, including the Koran, Selections from Al-Sahih Muhammad Ibn-Ismail al-Bukhari, Koran with Annotations and Selected Works of Waez, in Uyghur, Han, Kazak and Kirgiz languages, as well as the New Collection of Waez's Speeches series and the magazine China's Muslims in Uyghur and Han languages, the later with a circulation of over one million. Large numbers of mosques in Xinjiang have been designated as key cultural relics sites under the protection of the state, the autonomous region and the various counties. In 1999, the central government allocated 7.6 million yuan for the reconstruction of the Yanghang Mosque in Urumqi, the Baytulla Mosque in Yining and the Jamae Mosque in Hotan. The government has also, on several occasions, allocated special funds for the maintenance and repair of the Idkah Mosque in Kashi and Tomb of the Fragrant Imperial Concubine (Apak Hoja Mazzar), and Sulayman's Minaret in Turpan. In 2008 alone, 33 million yuan was allocated by the state for the maintenance and repair of Idkah Mosque and the Tomb of the Fragrant Imperial Concubine.
Now, most people of Xinjiang's 10 major ethnic minority groups, with a total population of over 11.3 million, believe in Islam. The number of Islamic mosques has soared from 2,000 in the early days of the reform and opening-up drive to 24,300 now, and the body of clergy from 3,000 to over 28,000. Since its founding, the Xinjiang Islamic Institute gives lessons in Uyghur and other minority languages and has trained 489 Imams, Hatips or other teachers for religious schools in the autonomous region. It currently has 161 students. From 2001 to 2008, the Xinjiang Islamic School trained more than 20,000 clerics. In addition, 3,133 Talips were trained by religious personages, in Islamic schools and classes operated by Islamic associations in the various prefectures and prefecture-level cities. Among them, 1,518 have graduated and 803 taken up clerical posts. In an attempt to cultivate high-caliber clerical personnel of Islam, since 2001, the regional government has sent 47 clerics for training in colleges and universities in Egypt and Pakistan.
Historically, the region witnessed many conflicts between different religions and between different sects of the same religion. In the mid-10th century, the Islamic Karahan Kingdom waged a religious war against the Buddhist kingdom of Yutian, lasting for more than 40 years. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, religious battles continued for several hundred years within Islamic circles. These wars between and within religions seriously jeopardized the unity between different religions and between different sects, as well as general social harmony and stability. Since the founding of the PRC, the implementation of the policy of freedom in religious belief and administration of religious affairs in accordance with the law have promoted peace and harmony between different religions in Xinjiang, as well as mutual respect and understanding between religious and non-religious citizens and between citizens believing in different religions. There have been no modern conflicts or clashes caused by differences in religion or religious sect.
VII. Safeguarding National Unity and Social Stability
The development and progress of Xinjiang are achieved in the People's Republic of China, a unified multiethnic country, and in a stable social environment, and are the results of concerted efforts of the people of all ethnic groups. All these achievements would have been impossible for Xinjiang without national unification, social stability, or ethnic unity. For years, the "East Turkistan" forces in and outside Xinjiang, without any regard for the well-being of the diverse peoples of Xinjiang, have been trumpeting national separatism, and plotted and organized a number of bloody incidents of terror and violence, seriously jeopardizing national unification, social stability and ethnic unity, thus seriously disrupting Xinjiang's development and progress.
Over a long period of time, the "East Turkistan" forces have unremittingly instigated separatist activities. The term "East Turkistan" first appeared in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century, a tiny number of separatists and religious extremists in Xinjiang further politicized the term "East Turkistan," and fabricated an "ideological and theoretical system" about the "independence of East Turkistan." Separatists of different shades in Xinjiang raised the banner of "East Turkistan" and formed "East Turkistan" forces, trying to establish a so-called "East Turkistan" separatist regime. From the early 1930sto the mid-1940s, with the instigation and support of hostile foreign forces, the "East Turkistan" forces shouted slogans like "killing the Han and annihilating the Hui" and "opposing and expelling the Han," creating many disturbances and even wantonly slaughtering innocent people in their attempt to split the motherland and set up an illegal regime. What they did met strong opposition from people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
Since the founding of the PRC, Xinjiang has entered a new stage, enjoying ethnic unity and social stability. However, the "East Turkistan" forces have persisted, carrying out clandestine actions. Supported by hostile foreign forces, the "East Turkistan" forces both inside and outside China created many riots and launched armed insurrection in their attempt to split the country. In the 1990s, influenced by terrorism, separatism and extremism, the "East Turkistan" forces both inside and outside China turned to terrorist violence as the chief means of their separatist activities. The terrorist nature of the "East Turkistan" forces was eventually recognized by the whole world. In 2002, the United Nations Security Council added the "East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM)" to its sanction list of terrorist groups. In recent years, the "East Turkistan" forces have continued separatist activities under the banners of "democracy," "human rights" and "freedom," trying to escape strikes against them or to clear themselves of the name of terrorism. In 2004, the "East Turkistan" forces patched together the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) outside China. Since then, they have plotted and organized a number of separatist and sabotage actions. On the one hand, they have stepped up infiltration to the ideological field by preaching separatism and "holy war"; on the other, they have intensified their efforts in the acts of terror and violence, organizing and instigating some individuals within China to go abroad to receive training in religious extremism, separatism and terrorist skills, and openly calling on extremists inside China to create terrorist incidents, including bombings and poisonings aiming at kindergartens, schools and the government institutions, or attacking China's military forces and government departments.
Since 2008, the "East Turkistan" forces have started a new round of sabotage activities, and created a number of bloody incidents of terror and violence aimed at the Beijing Olympics. In particular, the seriously violent incident of July 5, 2009, which erupted in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, was masterminded by terrorist, separatist and extremist forces both inside and outside China. The violence caused great damage to the lives and property of people of all ethnic groups, seriously jeopardizing the normal order and social stability of the region. After the eruption of the riots, the central government and the government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, relevant departments of the central and state organs, the military and armed police relied firmly on the cadres and masses of all ethnic groups to safeguard social stability, the socialist legal system and fundamental interests of the people, and took decisive and powerful measures to stop the violence in accordance with the law, to quickly bring the incident to an end and restore social stability in Urumqi.
The "East Turkistan" forces pose a severe threat to the development and stability of Xinjiang.
The "East Turkistan" forces have seriously violated the basic human rights to life and development of all the peoples of Xinjiang. Since the 1990s, the "East Turkistan" forces have organized large numbers of acts of terror and violence, seriously jeopardizing the security of lives and property of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. According to incomplete statistics, from 1990 to 2001, the "East Turkistan" forces both inside and outside China created more than 200 bloody incidents of terror and violence in Xinjiang, by means of explosions, assassinations, poisoning, arson, attacking, riots and assaults. As a result, 162 citizens, including people of various ethnicities, cadres at the grassroots level and religious personnel, lost their lives, and over 440 were wounded. In 2002 they again organized several bloody incidents of terror and violence in Xinjiang. The most recent "July 5" riot in Urumqi caused huge losses in lives and property of the people of various ethnic groups. By July 17, 2009, 197 people died (most being innocent victims) and over 1,700 were injured, with 331 shops and 1,325 motor vehicles destroyed or burned, and many public facilities were damaged.
The "East Turkistan" forces have seriously interrupted the economic development of Xinjiang. Firstly, they have seriously undermined the environment for investment, as evidenced by the drastic reduction in investment from other parts of the country. From 1997 to 1998, when crimes of terror and violence were frequent, the economic development of Xinjiang witnessed a remarkable slowdown. Primarily, outside investment declined as foreign investors withdrew their funding one after another, thus depriving Xinjiang of many development opportunities. After the eruption of the "February 5" riots in Yining in 1997, the economy of Ili Prefecture suffered a prolonged slump, with a depression in the real-estate market and drastic reduction in tax revenues. Many investors began to have doubts about Yining's investment environment, and the newly developed Yining Economic and Technological Zone grinded to a half-standstill. Secondly, tourism suffered as a result. Tourism is an important industry in Xinjiang. The "July 5" riot in Urumqi produced a serious adverse impact on Xinjiang's tourism, causing a sudden drop in both the number of tourists and revenue of tourism. Thirdly, precious resources have been dispersed. Plenty of human, material and financial resources have had to be put to guard against and combat crimes of terror and violence in order to safeguard the security of the country and social stability. Fourthly, exchanges between Xinjiang and foreign countries have been interrupted. The development of international thoroughfares and foreign trade in Xinjiang has been seriously affected.
In addition, the "East Turkistan" forces pose a threat to regional security and stability. The "East Turkistan" terrorist organizations, with ETIM as representative, have carried out actions in Central and South Asia over a long period of time, creating many bloody incidents of terror and violence, including assassinations, arson and attacks on police. They also secretly participated in terrorist activities plotted by international terrorist organizations, posing a threat to the peace and stability of all countries concerned.
Terrorist activities organized by the "East Turkistan" forces aimed against the various ethnic groups of Xinjiang pose an open challenge to the Constitution and laws of China, and are serious crimes of violence against society and humanity. National unification is in the fundamental interests of all peoples of Xinjiang; social stability is a prerequisite and guarantee of Xinjiang's development; and ethnic unity is the lifeblood of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Ethnic unity is a blessing for all peoples, while separatism would be disastrous. The Chinese government has, in accordance with the law, combated the sabotage activities of the "East Turkistan" forces to create a stable and peaceful social environment for Xinjiang's development. It is in keeping with the common aspirations of all peoples of Xinjiang and therefore has won their genuine backing and active support.
Xinjiang's development and progress is there for all to see.
Today, it has become clearer for the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang that national unification, ethnic unity, social stability, plus the coexistence and development in harmony of all peoples who share weal and woe are the lifeblood for the region's development and progress. The people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang cherish dearly this hard-earned remarkable situation. They will keep taking economic construction as the core, while safeguarding social stability and working together with the people of all ethnic groups in China to strive for common prosperity. They will share in a common destiny, consolidate and develop socialist ethnic relations characterized by equality, unity, mutual assistance and harmony, to unremittingly advance Xinjiang's development.
With its beautiful and fertile lands, Xinjiang enjoys an elevated place in the Chinese people's hearts. The people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang who protect and develop the land are great and honorable. At present, the Chinese people are striving toward building a modern socialist nation characterized by prosperity, democracy, civilization and harmony. With the care and support of the Communist Party of China and the central government, following the country's development, all the peoples of Xinjiang, united as one through common efforts, will ensure a brighter future for Xinjiang.
Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute for a book talk with author David Lampton. His new book examines China’s effort to create an intercountry railway system connecting China and its seven Southeast Asian neighbors.