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Shaking off poverty in rural Xinjiang

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-06-04 15:08

URUMQI - Tajinisa looks forward to attending an upcoming family day at her daughter's company.

When her daughter Goharnisa was recruited by a nearby food processing company in 2012, it marked a milestone in the family's struggle to get out of poverty.

"Thanks to her job, we now have a well-decorated house and fresh lamb in our fridge ready to be eaten," said Tajinisa. "I can't wait to see where she works."

The family live in a remote village in Hotan County, a poor area of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Goharnisa works as a team leader, managing workers who sort dates and nuts.

"Our Xinjiang specialty products are sold across the country, including Beijing and Shanghai, which makes me feel connected to those big cities," she said.

Her monthly salary is 4,300 yuan ($630), 1,300 yuan more than the annual income of the entire family of five before 2012.

China has been intensifying efforts to assist poor rural residents, including those of the country's ethnic minority groups.

According to a white paper issued by the State Council Information Office Thursday, by the end of 2016, less than 10 percent of Xinjiang's population live in poverty.

The number of people registered as living below the poverty line in the region had dropped from 2.61 million in 2013 to 1.22 million by the end of 2016.

The region has vowed to take part in the national effort to lift all Chinese out of poverty by 2020.

Southern Xinjiang has been the focus of poverty-relief programs, with more funding and social resources directed to the area. Ten special projects involving employment-based poverty reduction have been implemented, according to the white paper.

In the most impoverished prefectures of Kashgar and Hotan, a target has been set to find jobs for 100,000 people in the next three years, meaning more families like Goharnisa's will have a chance to raise their incomes.

Xinjiang's state-owned companies are required to offer 10,000 jobs, with the families of farmers and herders prioritized for recruitment, according to regional authorities.

Guozhichu food company, where Goharnisa works, is located in a remote rural area some 200 km away from the county seat of Yutian. The company and three other companies under a state-owned group recruited a total of 215 local residents in late May.

Muharem Abla, one of the new employees, is being trained to sort dates, making 2,000 yuan a month during her probation period.

"My neighbors are jealous and often ask me when the company will offer more jobs," she said with a smile. Most of the new workers were previously housewives.

"I'm so proud that I can earn a considerable salary without being away from home," she said.

Turuwenjan, a sociologist with Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said state-owned companies should hire more local residents and train unskilled ethnic minority groups, rather than bring in migrant workers from other regions.

Private companies should also be encouraged to do the same with tax reductions and exemptions, he said.

"Employment is vital to people's livelihood, as well as regional stability," Turuwenjan said.

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