Xi endorses jobs increase in Xinjiang
The central government has pledged to boost employment in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, a move that experts say is crucial for improving livelihoods and maintaining stability.
President Xi Jinping said authorities in Xinjiang must make improving employment their top priority, urging them to help residents to gain more skills, to find jobs or to start their own businesses.
Xi was addressing a two-day, top-level conference on Xinjiang attended by nearly all senior Chinese officials and which closed on Thursday in Beijing.
He said the number of Xinjiang residents going elsewhere in China to study, find work or to settle should be expanded. Xi asked the government to allocate more education funding to Xinjiang and said schools should push bilingual education.
The president also called for “nets spread from the earth to the sky” to combat terrorists in Xinjiang and stressed that long-term stability was the main goal for the region.
He said that people’s legal religious demands should be protected in accordance with laws and regulations, while their customs should be respected.
The meeting was held following a series of bloody terrorist attacks in the region, including one last week at an open-air market in Urumqi, the region’s capital, that left 39 innocent victims dead and another 94 injured.
China has convened four high-level meetings dedicated to supporting Xinjiang’s development since 2010 and assigned economically developed municipalities and provinces to help selected areas in the region.
Premier Li Keqiang said at the meeting that employment had been the biggest concern for Xinjiang people.
The premier asked the local government to ensure that economic growth benefited residents.
He said all enterprises and investment projects in the region must recruit more local workers.
Turgunjan Tursun, a sociology researcher at Xinjiang Regional Academy of Social Sciences, said: “Employment is the most important pillar to Xinjiang’s development and stability. Most of the participants in violent or terrorist acts in the region were young people who had no jobs or were in unstable employment.”
Such people were susceptible to falling under the influence of troublemakers.
He said the job market in Xinjiang had been unsatisfactory for the past decade despite continuous efforts by the central government and local authorities.
“Some large enterprises investing and operating in the region failed to take care of the employment needs of local residents, especially those from ethnic minorities, or even circumvented the government’s requirement to hire a certain number of local workers in their units,” he said.
He suggested the government adopt stricter supervision on the implementation of favorable policies, adding, “Authorities should also use financial and tax measures to encourage enterprises to employ more local people.”
In addition, other provinces and cities with high numbers of workers from Xinjiang should better protect the legal rights of the region’s workers and strengthen training for them, Turgunjan Tursun said.
“Sending more Xinjiang people to work outside the region can help enhance their sense of unity and affinity with people from other ethnic groups, boost cultural exchanges and alleviate labor shortages in other places.”
Zheng Liang, a researcher at Xinjiang University who has long followed employment issues in the region, said: “Enterprises should not evade their social responsibilities. They must help the government resolve the needs of jobless residents in southern areas of Xinjiang.”
Local people should also stop thinking that only government departments or publicly funded institutions offered good jobs, as this led to a reluctance to find jobs in the business sector, Zheng said.
Police officers in an anti-terror drill in Beijing on Thursday subdue terrorists and rescue civilians. More than 2,800 officers and 90 vehicles participated in the 40-minute event, the largest of its kind in the capital this year.