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History and Development of Xinjiang (Part 10)




As an important force for stability in Xinjiang and for consolidating frontier defense, the XPCC adheres to the principle of attaching equal importance to production and militia duties. It has set up in frontier areas a “four-in-one” system of joint defense that links the PLA, the Armed Police, the XPCC and the ordinary people, playing an irreplaceable special role in the past five decades in smashing and resisting internal and external separatists’ attempts at sabotage and infiltration, and in maintaining the stability and safety of the borders of the motherland.
During the process of cultivating and guarding the border areas, the XPCC has established a close relationship with local governments. The XPCC conscientiously accepts the leadership of the People’s Government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, abides by the laws and regulations of the government, respects the customs and religious beliefs of ethnic minorities, strives to do practical things in the interest of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and endeavors to develop a blending type of economy. In this way, the XPCC has forged flesh-and-blood ties with people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and attained the aim of joint frontier defense, sharing of resources, mutual complementarity and common prosperity.
The development of the XPCC in turn has continuously received aid and support from governments at all levels in the autonomous region, and from people of all ethnic groups. In its initial period of land reclamation, people of all ethnic groups provided the XPCC with guides, production tools and other forms of aid, while local governments allocated large plots of state-owned wasteland and pastureland, mines and natural forests, which laid the foundation for the development of the XPCC. Many of the policies formulated by the autonomous regional people’s government since the reform and opening-up have been expressly suitable for the XPCC and have thus gone a long way toward promoting the harmonious development between the XPCC and local economies.
During its long years of development, the XPCC has become a mosaic of people from 37 ethnic groups, including the Han, Uygur, Kazak, Hui and Mongolian. In the reclamation areas live Muslims, Buddhists, Protestants and Catholics. The population of Muslims is over 250,000. Carrying out the central government’s policies toward ethnic groups and religions in an all-round way, the XPCC handles religious affairs in accordance with the law, and has become a large, united, multi-ethnic family.
The development of the XPCC in the past five decades has played a very important role in accelerating the economic development of Xinjiang, promoting unity among ethnic groups, maintaining social stability, consolidating border defense, and shoring up the unification of the motherland.
X. State Support for the Development of Xinjiang
Since the founding of New China in 1949, according to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the central government has made it a basic state policy to help ethnic minorities-inhabited border areas with their political, economic and cultural development, and to lead all the ethnic groups of China onto the road to common prosperity.
Increased investment in fixed assets in Xinjiang. In the 10 five-year plans of the central government, infrastructure construction projects, projects involving basic agricultural development and modern industrial construction projects in Xinjiang have always been listed as key state projects. A whole slue of preferential and special policies have been adopted to ensure the smooth implementation of these plans. During the half century or more since the founding of New China, with energetic state support, investment and construction have been proceeding in a big way in Xinjiang.
From 1950 to 2001, investment in fixed assets there added up to 501.515 billion yuan. That included 266.223 billion yuan from the central government, accounting for 53.1% of such investment in the corresponding period. Over 90,000 projects have been completed and put into operation, including 178 large and medium-sized projects, and a batch of projects having a vital bearing on the economic development of Xinjiang. All these have laid a firm foundation for the autonomous region’s sustained economic growth.
Sizable financial support for Xinjiang. Preliminary statistics show that from 1955, when the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was founded, till 2000, the financial subsidies Xinjiang received from the central government totaled 87.741 billion yuan. Especially since 1996, with the increase of the central government’s financial strength and the implementation of the great western development strategy, the regular financial subsidies Xinjiang receives from the central government have increased year by year: 5.907 billion yuan in 1996, 6.838 billion yuan in 1997, 8.012 billion yuan in 1998, 9.4 billion yuan in 1999, 11.902 billion yuan in 2000, and 18.382 billion yuan in 2001. The central government has also increased its fund input and support of other forms through all kinds of special financial transfer payment as well as financial transfer payment under the preferential policy for ethnic minorities.
Support for the government of the autonomous region in actively using loans from international financial organizations and foreign governments. By the end of 2001, with support from and arrangement by the central government, Xinjiang had completed or was in the process of undertaking 22 projects with loans from the World Bank, and the total investment had reached US$ 1.79895 billion, or 14.93128 billion yuan RMB according to the current exchange rate. Three Sino-foreign joint ventures have obtained approval to use US$ 5.524 million in loans from the Asian Development Bank. Loans totaling US$ 410.67 million from Canada and several other countries and their governmental financial organizations have been used in 68 projects in Xinjiang, some of which have been completed. Loans from international organizations and foreign governments, which have been made full use of, have played an important and positive role in Xinjiang’s economic development.
Benefiting Xinjiang by exploiting petroleum and natural gas. Xinjiang is rich in petroleum and natural gas resources. Since the founding of New China, to promote Xinjiang’s economic development, the central government has adhered to the policy of large-scale prospecting for, exploitation of and investment in petroleum and natural gas resources in Xinjiang, so as to bring benefits to people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. To realize the strategic plan of building Xinjiang into China’s largest petrochemical industry base, the central government had increased investment in prospecting for and exploiting petroleum and natural gas in Xinjiang year by year, in spite of the fact that the domestic and international prices of petroleum and natural gas had dropped, and the cost of prospecting for and exploiting petroleum and natural gas was high. The investment in this respect was 18.196 billion yuan in 1995, and 29.223 billion yuan in 2000. An investment to the tune of well over 120 billion yuan is planned for the project of “transporting western natural gas eastward,” which, with Xinjiang as the main source, is already well on the way.
The rapid development of the petroleum, natural gas and petrochemical industry has met the demand of Xinjiang’s economic development for energy and petrochemicals. It has also given strong impetus to the development of the machine-building, transportation, telecommunications, construction, electricity, water conservancy, food, textiles, chemicals, plastics, rubber and pharmaceuticals industries, as well as agriculture; stimulated the growth of service trades; and produced a great impact on the formation and improvement of Xinjiang’s regional economic structure. As a result, there has been a great increase in the numbers of people employed.
Since 1994, with the operation of the Tarim Oilfield, the annual increase of employment in the Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bayingolin alone has exceeded 18%. Meanwhile, the process of urbanization has revved up. New oil-producing cities have mushroomed on the barren sands of the Gobi Desert, such as Karamay, Dushanzi (Maytag), Fudong and Zepu (Poskam). The modernization drive is going ahead apace in such cities as Urumqi, Korla, Fukang and Luntai. Local economic development has been effectively supported. The large oilfields in Xinjiang, such as Karamay, Tuha and Tarim, and major petrochemical enterprises in Zepu, Dushanzi, Urumqi and Karamay, fully using their human resources and financial and technological advantages, have aided local enterprises and invested in local construction. The Desert Petroleum Highway, which runs from north to south across the Taklimakan Desert, was built with an investment of 785 million yuan from the Tarim Oilfield.
The development of the petroleum, natural gas and petrochemical industries in Xinjiang has boosted Xinjiang’s revenues considerably. The project of “transporting western natural gas eastward” alone will increase Xinjiang’s yearly revenue by over one billion yuan, making a great contribution to promoting the development of various undertakings in the autonomous region.
Making preferential policies to promote Xinjiang’s development. Since the founding of New China, and especially since the reform and opening-up started some 20 years ago, the central government has drawn up economic development and other policies tilted in favor of Xinjiang. Relevant regulations on the strategy of opening up the border areas have been promulgated, providing eight preferential policies for enlarging the opening-up of the western areas, including Xinjiang.
The central government also encourages the construction of grain and cotton production bases in Xinjiang, the building of shelter-forests in northern, northeastern and northwestern China, and the construction of desertification control projects. The central government requires that preferential policies for aiding economic development in the impoverished areas be carried out; border highways be built and supportive highway facilities at border checkpoints improved; comprehensive control of the ecosystem and water resources of the Tarim River be accelerated, with priority given to Xinjiang when arranging projects for exploiting resources and infrastructure construction; standard transfer payment system be adopted for the central budget, to gradually strengthen financial support and increase the proportion of state policy-based loans, loans from international financial organizations and those from foreign governments.
In 2001, the central government promulgated the “Notice of Opinions on the Implementation of Some Policies and Measures for the Great Development of China’s West,” which provided 68 concrete preferential policies in 18 aspects. According to these provisions, the government of the autonomous region formulated and promulgated the “Suggestions of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Issues Concerning the Preferential Tax Policy in the Great Development of China’s West,” providing 10 concrete preferential tax policies to attract domestic and international enterprises, as well as farmers and herdsmen to participate in investing in and operating projects concerning Xinjiang’s social infrastructure, eco-environmental protection, high-tech industry and industries with special potentials and local characteristics.
Dispatching and training first-class professional and technical personnel for Xinjiang. Since the founding of New China, considering Xinjiang’s remoteness, backwardness and shortage of high-caliber personnel, the state has assigned, transferred or encouraged over 800,000 intellectuals and professional and technical personnel from inland regions to work in Xinjiang. Large numbers of university graduates, scientists, technicians and highly-trained professionals have been assigned to Xinjiang. Working in such fields as industry, agriculture, education, culture, scientific research, medical care and health, such people have made outstanding contributions to the modernization of Xinjiang.
Since 1989, with arrangements made by the central government, more than 80 institutions of higher learning in the hinterland have extended their support to Xinjiang by enrolling from among Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities 10,000 university and junior college students, 640 post-graduate students for specific posts or work units, 860 teachers and education administration personnel, and 1,400 business administration personnel, as well as sending a number of ethnic-minority visiting scholars abroad for further studies. Since 2000, the 12 better-developed cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dalian, Qingdao, Ningbo, Suzhou and Wuxi have run special Xinjiang classes in their key provincial-level senior high schools, with an annual enrolment of 1,540 ethnic-minority students who enjoy local government subsidies.
Xinjiang has received strong support from other provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities around China. During the past few decades, other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have provided immense amounts of aid for Xinjiang in terms of technology and skilled people. Considering the backwardness of the industrial enterprises in Xinjiang, the central government has moved some enterprises and factories from more developed areas along the southeast coast to Xinjiang, transferred engineers and technicians from the inland areas to newly established key enterprises in Xinjiang, and sent large numbers of specially picked ethnic-minority workers from Xinjiang to study and practice in advanced enterprises in the inland areas, resulting in the growth of a big contingent of leading engineers and technicians for Xinjiang in a very short period of time.
Since the introduction of the policies of reform and opening-up and with the gradual establishment of a socialist market economic system, economic and technological cooperation and exchanges, and the interflow of highly qualified personnel between Xinjiang and other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have kept expanding. A new market-oriented pattern of aiding Xinjiang’s economic and social development has shaped up, with capital investment as the bond, “material and human resources interflow” as the characteristic, and mutual complementarity as the principle.
In recent years, in particular, in conformity with the requirements of the central government, over 20 better-developed provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Shandong and Zhejiang, have paired up with and provided aid for various prefectures and cities in Xinjiang in relevant fields, with fruitful results.
Conclusion
With leadership and support by the central government, and through over 50 years of arduous efforts by the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, the autonomous region has made historic and outstanding achievements in its economic and social development. However, as Xinjiang is located in China’s northwest border, with rough natural conditions and a weak economic foundation, it is still faced with many difficulties in developing its public undertakings, such as education, culture and medical care and health. And there is still the onerous task of raising the living standard of the people of all ethnic groups. It is the common wish of the people of all the ethnic groups in Xinjiang, as well as the strategic plan of the central government, to speed up Xinjiang’s development.
In 1999, the central government made an important decision to implement the great western development strategy, which provides a rare historical opportunity for Xinjiang’s development. The autonomous region has drawn up its 10th Five-Year Plan and a development plan for the period up to 2010, in accordance with the state’s general plan on implementing this strategy. According to this plan, by 2005 the GDP of the entire region should reach 210 billion yuan (calculated on the prices in 2000), with an annual growth rate of 9% and the GDP per capita of over 10,000 yuan; the investment in fixed assets should reach 420 billion yuan; the annual growth of urban residents’ disposable income per capita should reach around 7% and farmers’ net income per capita should increase by 150 yuan each year; the average housing floorage per capita of urban residents should reach 23 sq m, and the living environment, housing quality and hygienic conditions of rural residents should be greatly improved. It is planned that, by 2010, the autonomous region’s GDP should be at least double that of 2000, and the people should be much better off.
The prospects for Xinjiang’s economic and social development are bright. With the support of the central government and other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, through arduous efforts, will build their autonomous region into an even more beautiful and prosperous place.
(China.org.cn May 26, 2003)



 


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