1.12 million officials paired with local households in Xinjiang

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/4 22:43:41 Last Updated: 2019/1/5 9:54:28

West only criticizes Xinjiang without any useful advice: official

Li Fang (center-right), head of the working team in Qianjin village, talks to local women. Photo: Courtesy of Li Fang

The moment Yan Xuning said goodbye to Abdunebi Abdurexit's family in Qianjin village and stepped out of their house, he was ambushed by the warm hug of two little Uyghur girls, who told him they just finished school.

As the Party chief of Nazerbag, Kashi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Yan goes to the village frequently and the two little girls are his friends who often talk to him about their school.

Yan is among hundreds of thousands of officials in Xinjiang deployed to pair with local families.

With the aim of enhancing ethnic unity and facilitating poverty alleviation, Xinjiang has launched a campaign to encourage officials from government departments to station in villages and undertake activities among different ethnic groups since October 2016.

By the end of 2018, more than 1.12 million officials and government employees in Xinjiang have paired with 1.69 million local households as "relatives."

Officials stationed in villages are working hard and many of them don't get to rest even during holidays and festivals. Their efforts have paid off as their work has been recognized by residents, and poverty alleviation has received a boost, some Xinjiang officials reached by the Global Times said Friday.

However, those efforts and achievements are ignored by some Western media outlets, who accuse Beijing of forcing Uyghur people in Xinjiang to "forsake their religion" and labeled local governments' efforts to improve residents' professional skills as "mass persecution" of Uyghur people.

Pairing with ethnic groups and deploying officials to villages are part of Xinjiang's de-extremism efforts, an official from Xinjiang's publicity department, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times.

It is strange that the West only criticizes Xinjiang without giving useful advice, he said.

The region is seeking its own solution to eradicate extremism. Though there may be problems, it will figure them out and fix them in a timely manner, said the official.

Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the regional government of Xinjiang, said in an October interview with the Xinhua News Agency that Xinjiang set up vocational training and education centers for "people influenced by terrorism and extremism."

"Officials stationed in villages would also take care of families when some members are sentenced for taking part in extremist activities or are admitted to vocational training and education centers for being influenced by extremism," said the anonymous official from the publicity department of Xinjiang.

Close connection

"Leaders at all levels should set an example… in pairing with local families and pay visits," Chen Quanguo, Party chief of Xinjiang, was quoted in a release from the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Thursday.

Li Fang, who is the director of the women association of Xinjiang and was chosen to head the working team stationed in Qianjin in February 2017, has worked in the village for nearly two years.

Women in Qianjin village in Nazerbag town take part in group activities. Photo: Courtesy of Li Fang

Door-to-door visits and discussing methods to reduce poverty with villagers are Li's daily work.

"Officials deployed in villages or those paired with local families are responsible for promoting policies of the government, especially those for improving health service and social insurance," said the anonymous official from Xinjiang's publicity department.

Promoting knowledge of laws and regulations as well as measures for poverty alleviation are the focus of their work, the official said, noting that many villagers living in remote areas are not well educated and have little knowledge of life away from home.

Great wall of steel 

Officials and government employees would pay at least one visit to their paired families every two months and be there for five days at a time, according to the release from the UFWD.

Li told the Global Times that officials of the working team have paired with 34 households in the Qianjin village. They live, eat and work with these families and organize various activities.

Li said that as part of the activities, children from the village have been organized to visit Urumqi, encouraged to take part in calligraphy and drawing contests and sent to a summer camp.

These activities have strengthened relations between officials and the villagers, Li said.

Kemu Tursun, a resident of Qianjin, said that with the help of officials stationed in the village, she applied for a position at a public welfare program and began to breed flowers to sell. She now has a monthly income of 1,800 yuan ($262).

Aside from deploying officials to villages, officials from the central government, as well as those from local governments in other regions, are encouraged to pair with local families in Xinjiang and pay visits.

According to data from the UFWD, a total of 4,063 officials coming from other regions have paired with 4,568 residents in Xinjiang.

Shenzhen has deployed several groups of officials to Xinjiang and launched 53 programs to help with poverty alleviation work. It helped build a base on producing fruits in Paxiang, a village in southwest Kashi, to help residents earn more, the Guangming Daily reported.

By the end of August 2018, the yearly income of every household in Paxiang had increased from 2,650 yuan to over 5,000 yuan. 

"With the help of officials stationed in villages, women influenced by extremism and restricted within their homes now work in factories; farmers who knew little about the internet have started their own online businesses; young people who had nothing to do and idled about have now learned to fix machines; residents in Xinjiang have become more active in work and have a better life, which became a driving force to reduce poverty," read the release from the United Front Work Department.

Xinjiang is cultivating an active force to safeguard social stability, enhance ethnic unity and oppose separatism… all the ethnic groups are holding together closely like pomegranate seeds… to build a great wall of steel, said the UFWD release.

Newspaper headline: Officials, families paired in Xinjiang

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