Xinjiang rolls out big job creation program

Updated: 2012-02-02 19:02


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URUMQI - Authorities in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have rolled out an aggressive job creation program which, along with other measures, aims to provide about 400,000 new jobs this year.

The region has enacted a job creation regulation in which the government promises to provide employment opportunities for jobless families who lodge verified requests for assistance, Ma Mingcheng, deputy head of the regional legislature, said Thursday.

Ma said the regulation also makes it easier for people to sue their employers for workplace discrimination based on race, gender, religion or disability.

"The regulation embodies the principle of fairness and attaches great importance to job creation for ethnic minorities," he said.

There have been no immediate estimates of the size of the government budget that will support the job creation program.

Xinjiang is a desert region, with 40 percent of its population belonging to the Uugur ethnic minority. Agriculture has long been the region's primary economic engine. The development of industries and services, however, has lagged far behind those of other Chinese regions, limiting job prospects for local residents.

Creating jobs has been a top priority for Xinjiang officials over the past two years, as they consider stable income through employment crucial to lifting poor Uugur families out of poverty and preventing younger Uugurs from turning to crime to support themselves and their families.

In July 2009, the regional capital of Urumqi was hit by the worst riots seen in decades, leaving 197 people dead and about 1,700 others injured.

Authorities blamed overseas separatists for instigating the riot, but have since vowed to boost economic development and job creation in the region to solve "the root problem of poverty."

The regional government estimates that about 500,000 urban residents in Xinjiang need to enter the workforce every year, but the market can only offer roughly 350,000 jobs, leaving 150,000 people with no chance of finding employment.

In rural Xinjiang, about 2 million people need to migrate to larger cities or richer regions outside Xinjiang to find jobs, said Enwaer Imin, a top Xinjiang human resources official.

The official said the government aims to create about 400,000 jobs this year, as well as ensure that 85 percent of this year's college graduates are able to find jobs after finishing their studies.

The most recent official data showed the region's unemployment rate to be 3.2 percent as of the end of 2010.