Massive economic aid program for Xinjiang

10:02, May 05, 2010      

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The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region will receive more than 10 billion yuan ($1.47 billion) in economic aid next year from 19 provinces and municipalities designated as partners - part of the central government's latest effort to boost the region's growth.

The national partner assistance program aims to build the region into a "moderately well-off society" in the next decade, and is essential to its long-term stability and order, according to the Xinhua News Agency's Outlook magazine.

At a meeting on Xinjiang held in March, the central government named the relatively-prosperous provinces and municipalities in the eastern and central areas to provide assistance to designated areas in the region. They are expected to provide financial support as well as training and education.

The central government has been running the program for 13 years, but it was vastly expanded based on the experience gleaned from a similar scheme for reconstruction in Sichuan after it was hit by a massive earthquake in 2008.

Except for regional capital Urumqi and Karamay, the most developed cities in Xinjiang, the rest of the region will receive aid.

The number of cities and towns that will benefit has increased to 82 from 56, while five more provinces and cities have joined the league of aid providers.

The central government has also tried to be a better "matchmaker" - provinces and municipalities with greater financial muscle, such as Guangdong and Beijing, will help the least developed areas such as Hotan and Kashgar.

The provinces in Northeast China - Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning - will partner with Tacheng and Altay in the northern part of Xinjiang because they have similar climatic conditions.

Increasing living standards is the main focus of the latest program.

The provinces and municipalities will be required to invest a certain percentage of annual income in their partner areas, an official in the Xinjiang regional government told China Daily.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said at the March meeting that "the region's development and stability is at a critical moment", and asked officials to establish an effective mechanism for personnel, technological, managerial and financial support, with improvements in housing, employment and education as priorities.

Li said the government will launch the program in 2011 after a year of research, planning and personnel training, and expects it to achieve significant results in five years.

Leading officials in most of the partner provinces and municipalities visited their recipient regions with research teams last month to draft plans as soon as possible.

The central government is to hold a work conference on Xinjiang later this month to implement the measures.

"We have to attach equal importance to economic development and social stability, and intensify vigilance against, and crack down on, the 'three evil forces' of terrorism, separatism and extremism," Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said on the same occasion in March.

The central government has blamed the "three evil forces" for instigating last year's July 5 riots in Urumqi, which left at least 197 dead and 1,700 injured.

Source:China Daily


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