Cui Menglin

Xinjiang has been a multi-ethnic region since ancient times. At present, there are 56 ethnic groups living in Xinjiang. It is one of the provincial administrative regions with the most diverse ethnic populations in China, with Uygur, Han, Kazak, Mongolian, Hui, Kirgiz, Manchu, Xibo, Tajik, Daur, Uzbek, Tatar, Russian, and other ethnic groups residing there. By the end of 2020, the region had a permanent resident population of 25.852,300, with ethnic minorities accounting for 57.76% of the total population. 

Under the care of the CPC Central Committee, the action of revitalizing the border areas and enriching the people has become the accelerator and catalyst for the economic and social development in the Xinjiang border areas.

Cadres and the masses of all nationalities always adhered to Xi Jinping’s new era where the ideas of socialism prevailed with Chinese characteristics. This has promoted the prosperity and stability of the Xinjiang region and provided an advanced historical experience for the social development, unity, and cooperation of China and other ethnic minority areas in the world.

First, the idea was to strengthen infrastructure construction and improve basic living conditions. The development of the Xinjiang region cannot be separated from the strong national infrastructure construction.

In terms of transportation facilities, all prefectures and cities in the region have entered the era of expressways, roads and railways have been interconnected, 56 regional flight routes have been fully opened, and all 15 first-class land ports have been hardened. And by the end of 2019, almost all the townships and villages had access to hard roads and buses.

In industrial and agricultural production, the region’s comprehensive agricultural production capacity and the level of modern equipment have also been greatly improved. Xinjiang has built the largest cotton production base in China, resulting in China leading in agricultural mechanization and efficient water-saving irrigation.

Industrial production has grown from scratch, forming a modern industrial system. The production technologies of various new energy, materials, and equipment manufacturing enterprises are leading domestically and internationally.

Secondly, those projects in the region will be promoted that benefit the people. Xinjiang has continued to promote a series of projects to benefit the people in the areas of employment, education, and medical care. A large number of life problems affecting people’s vital interests have been solved.  

In terms of employment, Xinjiang has implemented a zero-employment households policy under which at least one person in every family will be employed.  

In the field of education, integrated urban and rural education was comprehensively promoted, and the enrollment rate of school-age children in compulsory education reached 99.9 percent. And full nine-year compulsory education along with three-year preschool education and twelve-year basic education in southern Xinjiang is the goal. 

In terms of medical care, free annual health examinations were implemented. The coverage of basic medical insurance and old and endowment insurance for serious disease insurance reached 100 percent, the standardized rate of township health centers reached 100 percent, and medical and health conditions were significantly improved. The average life expectancy was extended from 30 in the early days of liberation to 72.35 in 2019.

Thirdly, the development of the resources and the industries through tourism has been focused on. Xinjiang has a vast territory with an abundance of scenery. In recent years, the promotion of tourism has been the area of focus in terms of development.

Since the third Central Symposium on Work in Xinjiang, the region has further promoted the strategy of revitalizing Xinjiang through tourism. Tourism has actively become an important engine for Xinjiang’s industrial and high-quality economic development.

The rapid development of tourism has driven industrial development in China. In 2019, Xinjiang received over 200 million domestic and foreign tourists for the first time, and its tourism revenue reached 345.27 billion yuan.

In 2020, Xinjiang overcame the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and received a total of 158 million tourists. In 2021, it received a total of 190 million tourists which generated a revenue of 143.4 billion yuan. Xinjiang stands at #3 of the top 30 cities with the fastest year-on-year growth in Chinese tourist destinations in 2021.

Fourthly, comprehensive poverty alleviation work should be carried out to promote common prosperity among people in ethnic minority areas. Eliminating poverty, improving people’s livelihood, and gradually realizing common prosperity are the important commitments made by the Chinese government to ethnic minority areas.  

Since the mid-1980s, China has gradually intensified its efforts towards poverty alleviation in Xinjiang and has carried out a large-scale poverty alleviation drive to solve the basic living problems of the poor people in rural areas of the region.

In the early 1990s, the Xinjiang Food and Clothing Project Plan for One Million People was formulated. Since the implementation of the plan, Xinjiang has substantially solved the poverty problem of more than 1 million people, reducing the poverty incidence rate to 4%.

From 2001 to 2010, Xinjiang entered a new stage of development, made new progress in poverty alleviation work, increased the income of its population by 13%, therefore, making remarkable progress in poverty alleviation work.

From 2014 to 2017, the five poverty-stricken areas in Xinjiang were successfully lifted out of poverty, marking the fastest reduction in the number of poor people in Xinjiang.  

The 13th Five-Year Plan period is a decisive stage for completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and in achieving the first centenary goal and a decisive stage for winning the battle against poverty.

In 2019, the regional GDP reached 1,359.71 billion yuan, which was an increase of 521.69 billion yuan from 2013 before the second Central Symposium on Work in Xinjiang. By the end of 2019, the poverty rate in Xinjiang fell to 1.24 percent from 19.4 percent in 2014.

In 34 border counties, 236,000 people were lifted out of poverty, 1,007 villages were withdrawn from poor villages, and poverty was eliminated from 14 of the 17 counties, winning a decisive victory in poverty alleviation in border areas. 

Finally, to strengthen the integration and cooperation of regional countries with China, Xinjiang has an important position in the economic belt of the ancient Silk Road.

In this context, China has put forward the “Belt and Road” Initiative (BRI), which originated from China, but is connected with a huge part of the world. Xinjiang as the center constantly promotes international exchanges and cooperation.

The BRI would lead to deeper regional cooperation, optimize and improve the industrial chains in key areas in Xinjiang, boost Xinjiang local enterprises to Central, West, and South Asia, and Eastern Europe, mutually beneficial and inclusive growth, free flow of trade, and efficient allocation of resources.  

As far as the implementation of the prosperous action for 20 years is concerned, the Xinjiang border areas have developed infrastructure, improved the border living standards, further improve the social development, the rapid development of the industries, national unity, border consolidation, and good-neighborly friendship with other countries.  

The goal of ensuring happiness and security for the masses in Xinjiang has been well underway. The officials and the people belonging to diverse ethnic groups hold themselves together like the seeds of a pomegranate, jointly creating a beautiful landscape of all ethnic groups working together to prosper and develop. 


Cui Menglin is a Scholar from Yunnan University of China  

**The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the position of the magazine.