The strike-hard campaign aimed at preventing large-scale terrorist attacks from happening in the northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and spreading outside to other parts of China has shown initial results, said acting chairman of the region.
Shohrat Zakir, the newly appointed acting chairman of Xinjiang, made the remark in a government work report he delivered on the first day of the annual session of the 12th Xinjiang regional People’s Congress in Urumqi, the capital of the region, on Tuesday.
Both the central and regional government have allocated special funds in 2014 for the campaign to support legal departments in Xinjiang to step up the efforts to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks, according to the report released by the regional department of finance on Tuesday.
The year-long campaign, which also aims to reduce the frequency of terrorist attacks, was launched the day after the terrorist attack at a morning market in Urumqi on May 22 left 39 dead and 94 injured. It will be extended to at least the end of this year, Zhang Chunxian, Party chief said earlier this month.
A series of terrorist attacks have happened in the Muslim-populated region in 2014. On July 28, the terrorist attack in Shache county, southern Xinjiang’s Kashgar prefecture, claimed 37 lives and injured 13. Fifty-nine terrorists were shot dead at the scene and 215 arrested. It was the one of the deadliest attack in the region in recent years.
Some terrorists from Xinjiang have also launched attacks outside the region. Religious extremism is believed to be the cause of the increasing number of violent attacks.
“Everyone, every department and every prefecture should contribute to the region’s long-term, complicated and tough battle again separatism and terrorism because it’s an urgent mission in 2015,” Shohrat said. “We must solve the problems of tradition with respect and handle religious issues with the rule of religion. Meanwhile, we must use the rule of law to crack down on terrorism.”
Besides causing casualty of the civilians, terrorist attacks have also slowed down the economic growth of the region in 2014.
Although the growth rate of Xinjiang’s GDP reached 10 percent in 2014, which is above the national average growth rate of 7.4 percent, it is very likely to meet the 11 percent growth rate target set at the beginning of 2014.
Affected by terrorist attacks in the region, the number of tourists visiting Xinjiang has dropped stunting the tourism-related catering businesses and retail markets. It has dragged down the region’s GDP growth by 0.7 percentage point, according to the report from the regional development and reform committee released on Tuesday.
Despites the central government’s plan to make Xinjiang a core trade hub linking China and Central Asian countries on the Silk Road Economic Belt proposed by President Xi Jinping in September 2013, the import and export volume in the region only increased by 0.4 percent year-on-year, which is 7.6 percentage point lower than expected and the slowest growth in the past five years.
The growth is expected to pick up in 2015 because the countries along the economic belt will speed up construction of infrastructure, which will boost the export for iron and steel as well as machineries, the committee said.
Shohrat said increasing employment in southern Xinjiang, which is relatively less developed and giving priority to education are the keys to ensure the region’s long-term stability.
“The regional government will provide vocational trainings for all junior or senior high school graduates in southern Xinjiang and teach them the national common language of China so they could find suitable employment,” he said.
Xinjiang will also support Han Chinese students and students from other ethnic groups studying together in the same schools instead of going to schools just for Han students or ethnic students. They will also be encouraged to sit in the same class and live in the same dormitory, Shohrat added.
It is the first time that Shohrat delivered the government work report after Nur Bekri, former chairman, was appointed as the head of the National Energy Administration, the country's top energy agency and deputy director of the National development and Reform Commission on January 1.