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SCIO briefing on Xinjiang's development

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The State Council Information Office held a press conference on Tuesday to introduce the development of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. August 1, 2019

The State Council Information Office of China (SCIO) invites officials from Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to brief the media on building a beautiful Xinjiang and jointly realizing the Chinese Dream on July 30, 2019. [Photo by Liu Jian/China SCIO]


Shohrat Zakir, deputy secretary of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Xinjiang regional government;

Alken Tuniaz, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee and vice chairman of the Xinjiang regional government;

Zhang Chunlin, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee and executive vice chairman of the Xinjiang regional government. 


Hu Kaihong, spokesperson of the State Council Information Office


July 30, 2019

Hu Kaihong:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to attend this press conference. This is one of a series being held on the development of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Today, we are delighted to welcome officials from Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to speak on the theme of "Building a beautiful Xinjiang, realizing the Chinese Dream." Present with us are: Mr. Shohrat Zakir, deputy secretary of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Xinjiang regional government; Mr. Alken Tuniaz, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee and vice chairman of the Xinjiang regional government; and Mr. Zhang Chunlin, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee and executive vice chairman of the Xinjiang regional government. They will make a brief introduction of current developments in Xinjiang, and then answer some of your questions.

Now, I give the floor to Mr. Shohrat Zakir. 

Shohrat Zakir:

Good morning, everyone. I am glad to have the opportunity to meet you here. On behalf of the CPC Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee, the regional government, and the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you for your long-term attention and support to Xinjiang. I welcome you all to this press conference. 

Xinjiang is situated in the northwestern part of China in the hinterland of the Eurasian continent. It covers a total area of 1.66 million square kilometers, and abuts eight countries. Of all the provincial-level administrative regions in China, Xinjiang possesses the largest area, the highest number of bordering countries, and the longest national land border in China. 

Xinjiang, an amazing and beautiful land, has been an inalienable part of China's territory since ancient times. Covering a large area abundant with various resources, the region has a long history with a profound culture. Inhabited by many ethnic groups and displaying the coexistence of multiple cultures and religions, it serves as an important corridor for East-West cultural exchanges. Since ancient times, the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have lived in harmony, sharing weal and woe. They have jointly developed, built and safeguarded the territory of the motherland, creating an epic of patriotism.

The peaceful liberation of Xinjiang on Sept. 25, 1949, ushered in a new historic era. On Oct. 1, 1949, all ethnic groups of Xinjiang, together with all other Chinese people, witnessed the founding of the People's Republic of China. On Oct. 1, 1955, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region was established, opening a new chapter for Xinjiang development. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and with the support of the whole nation, Xinjiang has forged ahead and worked toward development, progress and prosperity, together with the motherland, delivering remarkable results over the past seven decades.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has attached great importance to work in relation to Xinjiang and all its ethnic groups. Unceasing efforts have been undertaken in this regard. General Secretary Xi Jinping carried out inspection tours to Xinjiang, presided over meetings to study work in relation to Xinjiang, and delivered important speeches and relevant instructions. In May 2014, the Second Central Meeting on the Work of Xinjiang set forth the overall goal of achieving lasting social and political stability in Xinjiang, enriching the Party's strategies for governing Xinjiang in the new era. In 2015, General Secretary Xi Jinping commemorated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, expressing his wish to see the building of a beautiful Xinjiang and realizing the Chinese dream. This is also the common aspiration of the whole nation, including everyone in Xinjiang. During the two sessions in 2017, General Secretary Xi Jinping participated in a discussion with the deputies of Xinjiang, sharing his vision for the work being undertaken in Xinjiang, which provided the principles, and became a great encouragement to the next step in our work. We have fully implemented the Party's guiding principles and strategies for governing Xinjiang in the new era. Focusing on the overall goal of achieving social and political stability, we have united the people of all ethnic groups, overcome difficulties, and delivered solid progress, resulting in great changes on both sides of the Tianshan Mountains.

Xinjiang's economic development has realized a historic leap. Its GDP increased from 791 million yuan in 1952 to 1.2 trillion yuan in 2018. Adjusted for inflation, this represents a 200-fold increase, with an average annual gain of 8.3%. Xinjiang's per-capita GDP rose to 49,000 yuan in 2018, from 166 yuan in 1952, and that's approximately a 37.7-fold increase in real terms, averaging 5.7% annual growth.

After 70 years of development, Xinjiang's overall agricultural production capacity and its possession of modernized equipment have notably improved. It has China's biggest production center of cotton, and it also leads the nation in agricultural water-saving irrigation and mechanized farming. The region's industry started from scratch and has formed a fully-fledged modern industrial system. Some production technologies in regard to new energy, new materials and equipment manufacturing have taken the lead domestically and even in the world. More and more modernized cities have emerged as shining pearls in the Gobi desert. Stretching from north to south and connecting the hinterland with the world, Xinjiang's modern comprehensive transportation system has been basically completed. All prefectures and cities are connected by highways. Road network connectivity among administrative villages has reached 99.74%. The length of in-service railways totals 5,959 kilometers. Alongside the rest of China, Xinjiang has also entered the era of high-speed railways, which now links Urumqi to the rest of the country. We have also entered the era of subway, as the subway in Urumqi has already begun operating. There are 21 civilian airports in Xinjiang, and airlines have become the top choice for people to visit us and travel within the region.

In recent years, we have made good use of Xinjiang's geographical advantages, and seized the major opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative. We are committed to promoting openness both at home and abroad, and turning Xinjiang into a key region on the Silk Road Economic Belt, as well as a major window in China's opening to the West. In 2018, Xinjiang's total imports and exports were $20 billion. This is 1,481 times greater than it was in 1950. We have made good use of our unique tourism resources, implementing the strategy of developing Xinjiang through tourism. The potential created by stability is fully utilized as well. Tourism has seen a significant upsurge in recent years. Xinjiang received more than 150 million domestic and foreign tourists in 2018, a year-on-year growth of 40.1%, and 75.89 million tourists visited in the first half of this year, up 46% year-on-year. We expect to receive more than 200 million visitors this year. And we hope to present the charm, prosperity, and stability of Xinjiang to the world.

Second, the living standard of people of all ethnic groups has achieved a historic improvement.

Per-capita income of urban residents jumped from 319 yuan in 1978 to 32,764 yuan in 2018, an average annual growth of 12.3%; that of rural residents went up from 119 yuan in 1978 to 11,975 yuan in 2018, an average annual growth of 12.2%. Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has greatly improved the clothing, food, accommodation, and transportation conditions of the people of all ethnic groups, ensuring that the problems of hunger, cold, water and power supply shortages, and inaccessibility to the outside world that previously haunted this land a thing of the past.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, with a stress on people-centered and livelihood-centered development, Xinjiang has, for many years, spent more than 70% of its public budget expenditures on improving public livelihoods and continuously boosting welfare programs focusing on employment, education, medical services, social security and housing etc. Many pressing livelihood issues bearing on the people's immediate interests have been solved. Xinjiang has provided "zero-employment" families with jobs in a timely manner, implemented the policy of free annual physical examination, achieved three-year free pre-school education in rural areas, carried out rural housing projects and built permanent housing for nomadic herdsmen, established a healthcare insurance system to treat critical illnesses, and provided basic living allowances to eligible rural and urban residents. People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have enjoyed a stronger sense of gain, of happiness and of security.

To complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, we are focusing on poverty-stricken areas in the four prefectures of southern Xinjiang and have made clear gains in eradicating poverty. From 2014 to 2018, during a new round of the poverty alleviation campaign, 2.31 million people shook off the shackles of poverty, and the impoverishment rate in rural Xinjiang dropped from 19.4% to 6.1%. By 2020, like the rest of China, Xinjiang will lift its impoverished population totally out of poverty by current set standards. We will leave no one behind. Together with the whole nation, Xinjiang will make great efforts to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects within the set timeframe.

Third, our social undertakings have achieved historic breakthroughs.

In the early years after liberation, the net enrolment ratio of school-age children was under 20%, the illiteracy rate was as high as 90%, and the average life expectancy was merely 30 years. Over the past 70 years, we popularized nine-year compulsory education and provided free three-year pre-school education and 12-year basic education in southern Xinjiang. In 2018, the enrolment ratio of kindergartens was 95.95%, and the enrolment ratio of school-age children in primary schools was 99.91%. The central government has also organized Xinjiang Senior High School Class in some of the most developed cities in other provinces to offer better and free education for students from Xinjiang's farming and pastural zones, a scheme that has benefited 110,000 students so far. Xinjiang has also set up a relatively complete county-township-village three-tier disease prevention and health system. The average life expectancy has now risen to 72.35 years.

We highly value the protection and development of traditional ethnic cultures. The Xinjiang Uygur Muqam and Kirgiz epic "Manas" were inscribed on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Requiring Urgent Protection. 

Xinjiang has built a four-tier public cultural service system from the autonomous region down to prefectures, counties and townships. Each county has a cultural center, each township has a cultural station and each village has a cultural hub, enriching people's daily life.

You probably have noticed the exhibition stands set up outside this room. Those Uygur people perform beautiful songs and dances. And there are also local snacks and tourism products from our start-ups in rural areas. Through this, you can enjoy our traditional ethnic culture. All of these display the improved well-being of our people in Xinjiang.

Fourth, we have achieved historical progress in advancing solidarity among all ethnic groups.

We have fully implemented the Party's ethnic and religious policies and the system of regional ethnic autonomy. Xinjiang has cultivated a number of ethnic officials. The right to use ethnic languages and characters of various ethnic groups is fully secured. The law protects and respects the right of every person to freedom of religious belief and participation in religious activities. And the ethnic customs of all shall be respected. All of these aspects have helped to develop and consolidate the new socialist ethnic relationship featuring equality, unity, mutual aid and harmony. In Xinjiang, unremitting efforts have also been made in holding activities promoting ethnic unity and progress. Xinjiang has promulgated the Regulations of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on the Work of Ethnic Unity and Progress. The exchanges and cooperation between different ethnic groups have been promoted in different areas and manners. People of various ethnic groups are as united as pomegranate seeds.

Xinjiang is enjoying social stability, sustained economic development, a harmonious coexistence of all religions, a better standard of living and solidarity among all ethnic groups. The region is experiencing its most auspicious period of development and prosperity.

The prosperity and progress of Xinjiang cannot be separated from the great support of the central government and the selfless help of all Chinese. From the establishment of the PRC, the total financial subsidies of the central government to Xinjiang have reached 2.35 trillion yuan, including 1.61 trillion yuan alone from 2012 to 2018. In 2018, the financial subsidy of the central government to Xinjiang reached 302.2 billion yuan, accounting for 60.3% of Xinjiang's budgetary expenditures. Since 2010, a total of 19 provinces and various cities in eastern and central China have joined the pairing scheme providing aid to different parts of Xinjiang, with a combined fund of 103.5 billion yuan. And they have also ushered in 1.8 trillion yuan for cooperation projects. Since 1979, the country has sent 15,975 officials to support Xinjiang's development. They work together with all ethnic groups to build a better Xinjiang, thus enjoying the full warmth of the big family of our motherland.

The historic changes that have taken place in Xinjiang over the past 70 years eloquently prove that only through the leadership of the CPC, in the big family of the motherland, the insistence on pursuing socialism with Chinese characteristics, the determined focus on adhering to and improving the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and the joint efforts made to achieve common prosperity and development, has it been possible all ethnic groups in Xinjiang to have a prosperous and progressive present and be able to look forward to a more beautiful future.

The Chinese nation is a family where we are making concerted efforts to achieve our Chinese Dream. At such a historic point in time, we will continue to bear in mind our original aspiration and mission, carry out the Party's Xinjiang governance strategy under the guidance of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, focus on the overall objective of social stabilization and lasting stability and durable peace, insist on rule of law, ethnic unity and long-term construction in the region, strive to build a united, harmonious, prosperous, civilized, and progressive Xinjiang based on socialism with Chinese characteristics and strive to write a good Xinjiang chapter in the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. 

Now, my colleagues and I will answer your questions. Thank you.

Hu Kaihong:

Mr. Zakir, thank you for your introduction. Now, let's open the floor to questions.

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