World Bank review ‘doesn’t substantiate’ Xinjiang loan use allegations
Published: Nov 12, 2019 07:03 PM

Female trainees make shoes in a vocational education and training center in Hotan, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on October 20, 2018. Photo: Fan Lingzhi/GT

The World Bank's review of its loan to the vocational education and training projects in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region  clarified the truth and effectively refuted previous foreign media reports suggesting World Bank funds were used by vocational schools in the region to buy police batons and other security gear, Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday. 

Geng Shuang, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, made the remarks at a routine press conference on Tuesday.

Facts show the projects have boosted local vocational education development and cultivated many vocational talents, Geng said. 

With the cooperation of Chinese side, the World Bank recently conducted site inspections of Xinjiang's vocational education and training projects, Geng said. 

The World Bank team conducted a thorough review of project documents, engaged in discussions with project staff, and visited schools directly financed by the project, as well as their partner schools that were the subject of allegations. The review "did not substantiate the allegations," reads the World Bank's statement. 

The US-based Foreign Policy reported in August that the World Bank loan program to the educational project was used by Xinjiang schools to purchase high-end security gear, including barbed wire, tear gas and body armor. 

The World Bank statement mentioned that the scope and footprint of the project is being reduced in light of risks associated with the partner schools, and said the project will be placed under enhanced supervision to ensure that all applicable standards of the bank are adhered to. 

However, some Western media reported that the World Bank will scale back the development project in Xinjiang, and linked it to the previous accusations. 

Geng said that such a citation of the World Bank's statement is "one sided." 

Adjustments to the project are being made for practical reasons. The adjustments will make management more efficient and reduce supervision costs, Geng said. 

The World Bank has discussed the adjustments with the Chinese side, and both have agreed to implement the adjustment plan as soon as possible, Geng said.

The World Bank approved a $50 million loan in 2015 to support five longstanding public vocational colleges in Xinjiang. The schools offer three- and five-year vocational degrees on a fee-based and voluntary basis.

Global Times