Ethnic integration should be the ultimate goal in Xinjiang policy as the central government launches new economic development programs in the Uygur-dominated far western region, a leading professor said during an interview with South Wind Window, or Nanfengchuang magazine.
Qiang Shigong, director of the Research Center for the Rule of Law at Peking University, made the statement after a seminar about Xinjiang's development held by the State Council from May 17 to May 19 in Beijing.
"We need to adjust our Xinjiang policy according to the changes of social environment and approach the problem under the context of globalization," Qiang said.
"The economy’s development, although important, cannot create ethnic unity without the support of other polices, and on the contrary it may lead to social polarization and ethnic tensions because people of different ethnic backgrounds differ in their capability of adapting to the market."
The ethnic integration in Xinjiang should not be understood as assimilation of non-Han Chinese, the government should be sensitive to cultural diversities, and protect ethnic groups’ rights according to the law, said Qiang, who also thought the previous Xinjiang police “got lost” during the economy-oriented development.
The expert urged measures to weaken the identity of ethnic groups in policy-making, such as closing ethnic schools to promote more communication between different ethnic groups.
Qiang also said the promotion of Mandarin in ethnic regions could benefit local people in the current market economy environment. "To develop the economy and improve people’s lives doesn’t mean only helping people out of poverty. Instead, their education level and competitive capabilities should be enhanced fundamentally."
"The Han Chinese should take responsibility for the integration, and Han people should make more sacrifice and contribution to the goal," Qiang said.
In his view, as the government sends officials from other regions to work in Xinjiang, it should also encourage officials in Xinjiang to work in other regions.
Xinjiang unveiled a package of measures to improve people's livelihood at a regional work conference. The package came after the central authorities outlined a strategic plan last month for the region to ensure leapfrog development and lasting stability.