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Government dressing Xinjiang as textile industry leader

Updated: 2015-09-29

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A decade after the company Salijan Hobay worked for went bankrupt and she lost her job, Hobay is the owner of her own fashion label, popular both at home and abroad.

The Kazakh, now in her late 30s, has her own brand of business suits and the garments she designs are found on clothes racks across Central Asia. In 2014, her company, Xinjiang Salijan Clothing Co, saw its revenue reach 20 million yuan ($3.2 million).

Hobay has had a passion for fashion design since her childhood and made use of a government vocational training scheme after she was laid off. She then used further government aid to start her own company and weather a tough startup period.

Now, Salijan Clothing is bracing for another boom thanks to policies from central authorities to boost textile industries in the region.

The State Council, China's cabinet, plans to transform Xinjiang into a major textile base in the next five years, with investment, financial aid and subsidies. Folk costumes, an important part of Hobay's business, are prioritized in the guideline.

A major cotton base with low labor costs, Xinjiang is seen by economic planners as the ideal site for these sectors as enterprises in the country's east are seeking better locations for their labor-intensive factories.

Chinese apparel firms from outside Xinjiang have invested more than 30 billion yuan to establish plants and cooperate with local clothes makers.

Nurturing local companies and attracting capital from further afield, Xinjiang expects the output of textile and garment sectors to reach 212.5 billion yuan in 2023, when it will be able to provide jobs for one million people.

In fact, the blossoming of the textile and garment industries is Xinjiang's development in miniature and the support policies mentioned above are just part of the central government's work to make the region prosper.

China has attached great significance to prosperity and stability in the multiethnic area ever since Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was founded on Oct 1, 1955.

The central government has pumped 1.69 trillion yuan into developing the region over the last 60 years, according to an official white paper released ahead of the anniversary.

Thanks to the support, the gross regional product of Xinjiang in 2014 amounted to 927.3 billion yuan, a 115-fold increase from 1955. Xinjiang has maintained double-digit growth in the past five years.

To ensure people of all ethnic groups benefit from the development, the government has since 2011 built over 1.3 million homes for farmers and herdsmen, helped more than 2.5 million people find jobs, provided clean water for 4.2 million residents, subsidized high school education and expanded pension and basic health care in the region.

China's top political advisor, Yu Zhengsheng, vowed last week that the government will continue its assistance.

The northwestern region will soon have fresh opportunities by serving as a bridge linking China to Russia and Central Asia, as the government coordinates a campaign to revive the ancient trade routes known as the Silk Road, to strengthen economic ties with neighboring countries.

Xinjiang borders eight countries, making it very important to the Silk Road Economic Belt. The government has already started to improve infrastructure and establish special trade areas.

Construction of a bonded zone in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, started in early September to facilitate opening up. The zone, covering 2.4 square kilometers, is scheduled for operation by July 2016.

Its aim is to connect local producers with international markets and help internationalize Xinjiang's enterprises.

As for Salijan, a more open Xinjiang will allow her company to explore overseas markets. "I am eager to seize the chance and show our varied and graceful folk costumes on the global stage," she said.