Southern Xinjiang reforms hukou in effort to draw talent, investment

By Hu Qingyun Source:Global Times Published: 2014-10-21 0:53:01

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is encouraging more people to settle in southern Xinjiang by relaxing the conditions required to obtain a household registration, or hukou, in an effort to attract talent and investment to facilitate development in the area.

According to a document on the region's hukou reform, no restrictions or conditions will be imposed on those who want to settle in southern Xinjiang and they will be able to enjoy the same benefits in education, social welfare and employment as local people.

Released on Sunday night, the regional reform plan is in line with the country's hukou system reform, which was announced by the State Council and aims at pushing forward urbanization and equality.  

The loose household registration policy in southern Xinjiang can assist the central government's preferential policies for the local economy and social development, Xu Taizhi, a senior population management officer from Xinjiang's public security department, was cited by news portal as saying.

High school students in Xinjiang's southern regions, which are mainly inhabited by ethnic Uyghur people and have lower living standards, will receive free education, according to a statement released after a meeting in late May of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee chaired by General Secretary Xi Jinping.

The country's top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), vowed in June that it would gear up its support for southern Xinjiang by speeding up the construction of major transportation, water conservation and agricultural infrastructure in the region.

Turgunjan Tursun, an associate research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that pushing forward the development of southern Xinjiang would require talent and investment from outside areas, but the security situation there has stopped many from coming to the area.

In response to some speculation that the new policy aims to uplift the proportion of people from Han ethnic group in the local population, Tursun noted that such an assumption is an "over-interpretation" as Xinjiang is just following the country's trend of urbanization. 

"Urbanization will improve the local economy and residents' livelihoods, which will be helpful to maintain social stability in the region," said Tursun.

While applauding the intention of the new policy, some people held doubts over the feasibility of the policy in attracting talent and investment.

"People might still be cautious if the working and living environment in the region has not improved," an official surnamed Niu, who works in the southern Xinjiang city of Hotan, told the Global Times.

In recent years, southern Xinjiang has witnessed a series of terrorist attacks, which caused heavy casualties.

In contrast, to encourage settlement in the southern part of the region, Urumqi, the capital city of the region and Karamay, an oil city in northern Xinjiang, will have their population sizes controlled, according to the new policy. 

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