Posts tagged ‘Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps’

08/05/2015

China’s drive to settle new wave of migrants in restive Xinjiang | South China Morning Post

Newly employed as a hotel receptionist in Xinjiang, Fang Lihua is a foot soldier on the front line of a demographic contest for the mainly Muslim region’s identity as China opens it up for migration.

Uygur men visiting a night market in Hotan. Some Uygurs allege that ethnic Han settlers in Xinjiang receive preferential treatment. Photo: AFP

The resource-rich, far-western region is home to more than 10 million Uygurs, a Turkic minority with stronger cultural links to Central Asia than to the rest of China, dominated by the Han ethnic majority.

It sees sporadic violence the authorities blame on Islamist separatists, which has increased in intensity and spread beyond its borders in recent years.

Waves of mass migration from China’s heartland have raised Xinjiang’s Han population from six per cent in 1949 to 38 per cent four years ago.

Now Beijing hopes to trigger a new influx with the most liberal residency rules in China.

Fang, who is Han and in her 20s, took a three-day train ride from China’s ancient capital Xian to reach her new home in Hotan. The oasis town by the Taklamakan desert is renowned for its jade and fruit, but held little charm for her.

“I hate it here,” she said. “It’s completely foreign, I don’t think I’ll be able to adjust to life here.”

She and her builder husband are among the first to take advantage of new rules announced six months ago and she says they may stay despite her misgivings.

In cities across China, migration is strictly controlled, with new arrivals struggling for years to secure the all-important household registration, or hukou, entitling residents to education, healthcare, social insurance and more. Larger cities require advanced degrees, special skills or a job at a well-connected or government-owned company.

But in southern Xinjiang, the latest regulations mean a hukou is available with no educational or skill requirements at all.

Nationwide changes to the system are in the pipeline with urbanisation a key driver of the Chinese economy, but the fact that the Uygur-dominated area has been chosen for the country’s most liberal rules is striking.

More than 200 people died in Xinjiang-linked incidents last year according to official media reports, including a bloody mass stabbing in Kunming in southwestern China.

“The hukou reforms are about trying to encourage Han migration to southern Xinjiang, even though it’s not phrased in that way,” said James Leibold, an expert on ethnic relations in China at Australia’s La Trobe University.

“The idea behind that is to encourage more inter-ethnic mingling and hopefully by bringing more Han, the quality and the civilisation of southern Xinjiang will increase.”

At the same time the government is trying to stem population growth among minorities.

Propaganda throughout rural Hotan encourages residents to “have fewer children and get rich quick”, with a 3,000 yuan (HK$3,800) payout for those who forgo having the third child allowed to many ethnic minority couples under China’s family planning rules, compared to one or two for Han.

Security concerns and poor business opportunities would put off many potential migrants, Leibold said.

But that did not stop construction worker Du Yun, from the southwestern province of Sichuan, who arrived in November.

“I prefer the air in Sichuan, we don’t have sandstorms, but the social benefits are better in cities,” he said.

Areas of Xinjiang have at times been part of different states, including Russia, sometimes independent, but it has largely been ruled by Beijing since the late 1800s.

After the Communists won China’s civil war in 1949, it saw waves of migration from the east.

The semi-military Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps settled demobilised soldiers on work farms and today runs businesses including real estate, insurance, plastics and cement across the region, with its own universities and media.

Throughout Xinjiang, the Han and Uygur communities live almost entirely separately.

At one bazaar nearly all the patrons and merchants were Uygur, and blamed rising prices on new arrivals.

“The government has plenty of money, but any subsidies we’re entitled to just get taken by officials,” said Abduljan, who was buying lamb. “But we can’t do anything, we have no voice, no power.”

Almost none of about two dozen Han Chinese living in Hotan interviewed for this article spoke Uygur.

“Even if these policies do manage to attract Han to places like Hotan it doesn’t mean they will intermingle,” Leibold said.

“They’ll just live in segregated communities and they’ll be guarded by the People’s Armed Police,” he added.

“To create a truly cohesive society you need first and foremost trust, and interethnic trust is in extremely short supply.”

More than 300,000 people live in Hotan, but at night it is a ghost town.

Eighteen people were killed in an assault on a police station four years ago, according to the authorities, who say all the attackers who mounted a fatal car crash in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 18 months ago were from Hotan.

Now most Han are afraid to go out after sunset and those who gather for nightly dances under a Mao Zedong statue in the main square are guarded by armed police.

The security presence is ubiquitous and many Uygurs similarly avoid the streets during darkness, citing harassment in the form of constant identity checks and probing questioning.

“The police, the checkpoints, the guns,” said a Uygur man who refused to give his name. “It’s all here to make the Han feel safe.”

 

via China’s drive to settle new wave of migrants in restive Xinjiang | South China Morning Post.

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20/02/2015

Top China cotton producer resists reforms in restive Xinjiang | Reuters

China’s top cotton producer, a quasi-military body formed 60 years ago to settle the far west Xinjiang area, is resisting a government policy that could force it to cut output in an industry employing hundreds of thousands in the restive region.

Farmers stack cotton at a cotton purchase station in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in this November 3, 2010 file picture. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Beijing has pledged to end a costly stockpiling program that has artificially inflated cotton prices and in Xinjiang helped underpin an influx of Han Chinese workers, creating friction in an area home to the Muslim Uighur people.

Reluctant to accept the current weak market price, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) has asked the government to buy part of its crop and store it in state reserves, said two trade sources with knowledge of the issue.

XPCC, also known as the army corps, or ‘bingtuan’, has become a sort of state within a state and gained a dominant role in industries such as cotton, where it employs about 200,000 mainly Han Chinese on some of Xinjiang’s best land.

“Cotton is intimately associated with land usage, ownership, employment and Han in-migration. It’s all tied up,” said Tom Cliff, a scholar at the Australian National University.

Beijing has promised subsidies to help cushion the impact of ending stockpiling, but the total amount is unclear and with the local cotton price plunging any threat to the industry could be a fresh source of competition for jobs.

via Top China cotton producer resists reforms in restive Xinjiang | Reuters.

05/01/2014

* China to launch nationwide safety overhaul – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China will launch a nationwide work safety overhaul this month to prevent the occurrence of major accidents, the country\’s work safety watchdog said on Saturday.

The State Administration of Work Safety will send 16 teams to oversee safety checks in 31 provinces, regions and municipalities and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps., with each team in charge of two places.

Safety measures should be enhanced in industries including coal mines, transportation, hazardous chemicals and fireworks, as well as in public places, according to the administration.

A special safety overhaul on the country\’s oil and gas pipeline will begin in early March, the administration said.

China witnessed a series of tragedies in 2013. A fire at a poultry factory on June 3 in northeast China\’s Jilin Province claimed 121 lives. In November, 62 people died in an oil pipeline blast in Qingdao City of east China\’s Shandong Province.

via China to launch nationwide safety overhaul – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

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22/09/2013

Ukraine to become China’s largest overseas farmer in 3m hectare deal

SCMP: “China will plough billions of yuan into farmland in Ukraine that will eventually become its biggest overseas agricultural project.

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The move is a significant step in China’s recent efforts to encourage domestic companies to farm overseas as China’s food demand grows in pace with urbanisation.

Under the 50-year plan, Ukraine will initially provide China with at least 100,000 hectares – an area almost the size of Hong Kong – of high-quality farmland in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, mainly for growing crops and raising pigs.

The produce will be sold to two Chinese state-owned grain conglomerates at preferential prices. The project will eventually expand to three million hectares.

Ding Li, a senior researcher in agriculture at Anbound Consulting in Beijing, said the deal was a big move for China compared with earlier overseas agriculture.

In April 2009, China had slightly over two million hectares of farmland abroad, he said. “So three million hectares would mean a very big project.”

The agreement was signed in June between the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and KSG Agro, Ukraine’s leading agricultural company, XPCC said in a statement.

XPCC, also known as Bingtuan, is a quasi-military organisation established in Xinjiang in the 1950s to reclaim farmland and consolidate defences against the Soviet Union, whose “granary” at that time was, ironically, the Ukraine.

The statement did not reveal the value of the investment, but the Kyiv Post reported last month that it would be more than US$2.6 billion. The newspaper called it an “unprecedented foreign investment” in Ukraine’s agriculture sector.

This would make it China’s biggest reported lease or purchase of farmland overseas. The Beidahuang Group, China’s largest agribusiness, based in Heilongjiang province, and the Chongqing Grain Group have made similar moves to expand abroad.

The farming project was an important part of China’s food security programme and a response to the central government’s strategy of outsourcing the production of food to farms overseas, the statement said.

It would also help the XPCC expand, and provide jobs abroad for Chinese labourers and boost their incomes, it said.

China has made substantial agricultural investments elsewhere, notably in South America. Beidahuang acquired 234,000 hectares to grow soya bean and corn in Argentina, while Chongqing Grain paid US$375 million for soya bean plantations in Brazil and US$1.2 billion for land in Argentina to grow soya beans, corn and cotton.”

via Ukraine to become China’s largest overseas farmer in 3m hectare deal | South China Morning Post.

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