China / Society

Xinjiang gets a helping hand to improve locals' livelihoods

By Cui Jia (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-24 07:59

Assistance projects to help the development of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region must focus on increasing employment and improving the quality of education, especially in less-developed southern Xinjiang, Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Wednesday.

It has been five years since 2010, when the central government introduced the "pairing assistance" program, which requires 19 provinces and municipalities to support the development of different areas in Xinjiang.

The projects introduced by the provinces and municipalities must be based on people's real needs and increase efficiency in improving locals' livelihoods, Zhang said at the 5th National Work Conference on pairing assistance projects for Xinjiang, which was held in Beijing on Wednesday.

Top Chinese political adviser Yu Zhengsheng said the ultimate goal of the program is to reinforce the foundation for the region's long-term stability. The projects must help people from different ethnic groups to better communicate and understand each other.

He also asked the provinces and municipalities to plan for the next five-year program.

Under the program, each province or municipality is assigned specific cities or counties to assist by sending officials and experts in different fields. The central government also requires the pairing partners to invest a certain percentage of their annual GDP in Xinjiang.

The central government takes the expertise of the assistance provider into account. For example, it paired Shenzhen, Guangdong province - China's first and most successful Special Economic Zone - with southern Xinjiang's Kashgar - a new special zone that will act as a trade hub connecting Central Asian countries on the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Beijing is responsible for assisting Hotan and three counties in southern Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture, as well as the 14 divisions of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

By the end of 2014, Beijing had invested 6.25 billion yuan ($979 million) into 471 projects in Xinjiang, more than 86 percent of the financial budget for assisting the region for the 2011 and 2015 period, said Zhang Chuanwu, deputy director of Beijing's pairing assistance office in Hotan.

"Our priority is to improve locals' living conditions and invest in education-related projects," Zhang said.

Hot Topics