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Full Text: Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang
2020-09-18 source:Xinhua
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Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang

The State Council Information Office of

the People's Republic of China

September 2020

 

Contents

Preface

 

I.Employment in Xinjiang

II.Proactive Employment Policies

III.Full Respect for Workers' Job Preferences

IV.Labor Rights Protection

V.Better Jobs for Better Lives

VI.Application of International Labor and Human Rights Standards

Conclusion

 

Preface

Work creates the means of existence and is an essential human activity. It creates a better life and enables all-round human development and the progress of civilization. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China provides that all citizens have the right and obligation to work. To protect the right to work is to safeguard human dignity and human rights.

China has a large population and workforce. Employment and job security are key to guaranteeing workers' basic rights and wellbeing, and have a significant impact on economic development, social harmony, national prosperity, and the nation's rejuvenation. China is committed to the people-centered philosophy of development, attaches great importance to job security, gives high priority to employment, and pursues a proactive set of policies on employment. It fully respects the wishes of workers, protects citizens' right to work in accordance with the law, applies international labor and human rights standards, and strives to enable everyone to create a happy life and achieve their own development through hard work.

In accordance with the country's major policies on employment and the overall plan for eliminating poverty, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region takes the facilitation of employment as the most fundamental project for ensuring and improving people's wellbeing. It has made every effort to increase and stabilize employment through various channels: encouraging individual initiative, regulatory role of the market, and government policies facilitating employment, entrepreneurship, and business startups. Through its proactive labor and employment policies, Xinjiang has continuously improved the people's material and cultural lives, and guaranteed and developed their human rights in every field. This has laid a solid foundation for ensuring that the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have the opportunity to enjoy moderate prosperity in all respects and achieve long-term social stability together with their fellow countrymen and countrywomen in other parts of China.

I. Employment in Xinjiang

Xinjiang is located in the northwest of China. For historical and a range of natural reasons, it has long lagged behind other parts of the country in development, and there is a large impoverished population. The four prefectures in southern Xinjiang, namely, Hotan, Kashgar, Aksu and Kizilsu Kirgiz, in particular have a poor eco-environment, weak economic foundations, and a serious shortfall in employment carrying capacity. They are identified as areas of extreme poverty. In addition, terrorists, separatists and religious extremists have long preached that "the afterlife is fated" and that "religious teachings are superior to state laws", inciting the public to resist learning the standard spoken and written Chinese language, reject modern science, and refuse to improve their vocational skills, economic conditions, and the ability to better their own lives. As a result, some local people have outdated ideas; they suffer from poor education and employability, low employment rates and incomes, and have fallen into long-term poverty.

Employment and job security carries great significance for ensuring people's right to work, improving their living standards, and promoting social harmony and stability. Especially since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, Xinjiang has vigorously implemented employment projects, enhanced vocational training, and expanded employment channels and capacity. Thanks to these efforts, the employment situation in Xinjiang has continued to improve, people's incomes and quality of life are rising, and their sense of gain, happiness and security has significantly increased.

Policies have further improved. In recent years, to implement the national policies and strategies for stabilizing and facilitating employment and respond to calls from the public and local conditions, Xinjiang has successively formulated the Opinions of the CPC Committee and the People's Government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Further Facilitating Employment and Business Startups, the Opinions of the People's Government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Facilitating Employment and Business Startups Now and in the Future, and the 13th Five-Year Plan of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for Facilitating Employment. Systematic arrangements have been made in the areas of economic development, governmental financial guarantees, tax incentives, support from the financial sector, and overall planning of urban and rural areas, different regions, and diverse groups, as well as in supporting flexible employment and helping groups in need to find jobs. All these provide a solid institutional guarantee for facilitating employment and safeguarding the rights and interests of workers.

The scale of employment has expanded continuously. Xinjiang focuses on areas of extreme poverty and key groups with difficulty finding work. It guides people of all ethnic groups to find work nearby, or to locate jobs or start their own businesses in cities, and encourages the impoverished workforce to seek employment outside their hometowns. From 2014 to 2019, the total number of people employed in Xinjiang rose from 11.35 million to 13.3 million, an increase of 17.2 percent. The average annual increase in urban employment was more than 471,200 people (148,000 in southern Xinjiang, accounting for 31.4 percent); and the average annual relocation of surplus rural labor was more than 2.76 million people, of whom nearly 1.68 million, or over 60 percent, were in southern Xinjiang.

The employment structure has become more rational. Xinjiang considers supply-side structural reform as a key priority, and endeavors to raise the level of the primary industry, focus on key projects in the secondary industry, and boost the tertiary industry. It nurtures and strengthens industries with distinctive strengths and labor-intensive industries, and guides the orderly flow of labor to the tertiary industry. In terms of workforce distribution across the three industries, the ratio in 2014 was 45.4 : 16.0 : 38.6, which evolved to 36.4 : 14.1 : 49.5 in 2019. The tertiary industry saw an increase of 10.9 percentage points, making it the most job-intensive sector. In terms of workforce distribution in urban and rural areas, surplus rural labor is increasingly moving to cities and towns, and the ability of these places to absorb workforce has been strengthened. The number of people employed in cities and towns increased from 5.35 million in 2014 to 7.34 million in 2019, accounting for 55.2 percent of the total.

The quality of the workforce has improved significantly. Thanks to the government's education projects, enrollments in preschool education, nine-year compulsory education, senior high school education, higher education and vocational education in Xinjiang have all reached the highest level in history. In 2019, there were 453,800 full-time students studying at universities and colleges (an increase of 146,200 over 2014), and 1.84 million students studying at secondary schools (an increase of 147,600 over 2014). Through vocational training, Xinjiang has built a large knowledge-based, skilled and innovative workforce that meets the requirements of the new era. Every year from 2014 to 2019 Xinjiang provided training sessions to an average of 1.29 million urban and rural workers, of which 451,400 were in southern Xinjiang. The trainees mastered at least one skill with employment potential, and the vast majority of them obtained vocational qualifications, skill level certificates, or specialized skill certificates, allowing them to go on to find stable employment.

The income of residents and workers has increased steadily. From 2014 to 2019, the per capita disposable income of residents in Xinjiang increased as follows:

-- urban residents: from RMB23,200 to RMB34,700 (an average annual nominal growth of 8.6 percent);

-- rural residents: from RMB8,724 to RMB13,100 (an average annual nominal growth of 8.9 percent);

-- urban residents in areas under the administration of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (a special entity entrusted by the state to cultivate and guard China's border area in Xinjiang): from RMB27,600 to RMB40,700 (an average annual nominal growth of 8.5 percent);

-- residents of the company residence areas of the Corps: from RMB13,900 to RMB22,000 (an average annual nominal growth of 9.9 percent);

-- average annual salary of employees in non-private sectors in cities and towns: from RMB53,500 to RMB79,400 (an annual growth of 8.4 percent);

-- average annual salary of employees in private sectors in cities and towns: from RMB36,200 to RMB45,900 (an annual growth of 5.4 percent).

From 2018 to 2019, 155,000 people from registered poor households in southern Xinjiang and in four impoverished regimental farms of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps found employment outside their hometowns and subsequently emerged from poverty.

The above statistics show that, in recent years Xinjiang has achieved remarkable results in providing employment services and job security to the residents, and the overall situation is good. However, it should be noted that Xinjiang is still faced with difficulties and challenges including a weak foundation for economic development, a large labor surplus in rural areas, and a low level of vocational skills. To solve its problem of employment in the long term, Xinjiang must further optimize the industrial structure, improve the quality of the workforce, and change people's outdated mindset.

II. Implementation of Proactive Policies on Employment

In recent years, Xinjiang has formulated and put in place economic and social development strategies conducive to expanding employment, and has improved various policies to facilitate employment, with the goal of helping local people achieve stable, continuous, and long-term employment.

Upgrading the industrial structure to increase employment. Xinjiang has seized the development opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative to diversify its industrial structure, promoting capital-, technology- and knowledge-intensive advanced manufacturing industries and emerging industries, boosting labor-intensive industries such as textiles and garments, shoes and accessories, and consumer electronics, and encouraging modern service industries such as e-commerce, cultural and creative businesses, all-area-advancing tourism, health care, and elderly care, all with a view to expanding the capacity and scale of employment.

In 2012, Xinjiang Zhundong Economic and Technological Development Zone was established, utilizing competitive resources to develop six pillar industries, including new materials and new energy. By the end of 2019, the development zone was providing employment for more than 80,000 people. Since 2014, the state has given strong support to Xinjiang's textiles industry, which created 350,000 new jobs from 2017 to 2019.

Prioritizing the development of agro-product processing and electronics assembly, Kashgar Prefecture has attracted related enterprises to its industrial development zones (IDZs) and helped them expand their production to rural areas. By the end of 2019, the prefecture had 210 agro-product processing enterprises providing 16,700 jobs, and 1,406 industrial enterprises located in the various IDZs providing 84,100 jobs.

Aksu Prefecture has been integrating industry and vocational education, offering joint education programs by textile and garment enterprises and vocational schools, and has facilitated employment for 32,400 people.

Assisting key groups to obtain stable employment. Xinjiang has adopted a policy to encourage surplus rural labor to work in or near their hometowns, developing "satellite factories" and "poverty alleviation workshops" in light of local conditions to create jobs, supporting rural organizations for labor service cooperation to facilitate employment, promoting IDZs to stabilize employment, and developing tourism to boost employment.

Xinjiang has launched a three-year program to intensify its poverty alleviation efforts in 22 extremely poor counties in its south and 4 extremely poor regimental farms under the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. From 2018 to June 2020, the local government helped 221,000 people from registered poor households in southern Xinjiang to find work outside their hometowns. In Kashgar and Hotan prefectures, a three-year relocation assistance program from 2017 to 2019 for both urban and rural surplus labor helped 135,000 people to find jobs outside their hometowns.

Xinjiang has provided dynamic, categorized and targeted assistance to people having difficulty finding work and to zero-employment households in the entire autonomous region -- having each and every one of them identified, registered, assisted, and ensured stable employment. From 2014 to 2019, Xinjiang provided jobs for 334,300 urban residents having difficulty finding work, and ensured that zero-employment households found jobs within 24 hours once they were identified.

For university graduates, Xinjiang has implemented a number of plans to facilitate employment and the creation of new businesses, to guide them to work and grow at primary-level organizations, to encourage them to take up primary-level posts in education, agriculture, health care, and poverty alleviation in rural areas, and to help long-term unemployed youth find jobs. In 2019, the employment rate of university graduates in Xinjiang reached 90.4 percent, and the employment rate of ethnic minorities who graduated from universities in other parts of China and returned to Xinjiang reached 95.1 percent, both figures representing record highs.

Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship to generate employment. Xinjiang promotes innovation as a new engine for creating jobs, and advances reform to streamline administration, delegate power, improve regulation and upgrade services. To encourage people who are eager and eligible to start their own businesses, the local government eases market access, improves policies in support of business startups, and sees to it that guaranteed loans, interest subsidies, allowances and tax breaks for startups are implemented. Xinjiang fosters platforms for innovation and entrepreneurship, improves capacity building for startups, and develops makerspaces which are market-oriented, professional, integrated and networked, to provide young entrepreneurs with more platforms and equal access to services.

Currently, Xinjiang has 5 business incubation demonstration bases at national level and 27 at provincial and equivalent level, which have fostered 1,412 micro and small businesses and created more than 10,000 jobs. Xinjiang supports innovation-driven startups and entrepreneurs as capable job creators, and encourages Internet plus entrepreneurship to multiply employment opportunities.

In 2019, Hotan Prefecture alone issued RMB910 million guaranteed loans for business startups, which helped 12,500 people to start businesses, including university graduates, rural workers and people having difficulty finding work. Xiao Min and five other women from Changji City, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture founded a human resources service company. It has become a leader of the local labor supply chain, integrating human resource services, dispatch of labor, logistics outsourcing, policy consultancy, and IT application. It has more than 4,800 employees from various ethnic groups and serves 318 enterprises and public institutions across the whole of Xinjiang. It has provided jobs for more than 30,000 unemployed and surplus rural laborers, and has created a total value of RMB156 million.

Providing vocational training to facilitate employment. Based on the market demand for labor, Xinjiang focuses on improving employability of workers and promoting stable employment. It has developed a complete system of vocational education and training, including colleges for higher vocational and technical education, secondary technical schools, technical institutes, job placement training centers, employee training centers, and vocational education and training centers, with the goal of raising the basic quality of trainees and organizing training oriented to specific demands, jobs and employers. In 2019, Hotan Prefecture alone provided vocational training for 103,300 farmers and herders, of whom 98,300 found work, with an employment rate of over 95 percent.

Leveraging institutional strengths to expand employment channels. China has institutional strengths that promote equality and mutual assistance among all ethnic groups towards common development and progress. It has also formed a mechanism in which better-developed provinces pair up with and provide assistance for various parts of Xinjiang. Fully leveraging these strengths and this mechanism, Xinjiang coordinates jobs in and outside the autonomous region, to create favorable conditions for its local residents to work in other parts of China.

Since 2014, 117,000 people in Xinjiang have achieved employment with higher income in other parts of the country. Following the principle of "providing training according to market demand and before dispatching workers", Xinjiang has organized employment-oriented training on standard spoken and written Chinese, relevant legal knowledge, general knowhow of urban life, and labor skills. Recipients of relocation assistance are provided by their employers with daily necessities and proper accommodation. In some provinces, enterprises provide them with public rental housing, low-rent housing, or housing for couples. Xinjiang provides timely registration and certification services for those who find employment through relocation assistance, to facilitate their medical care in their host provinces. Employers and host provinces help guarantee their children's access to kindergartens and schools, and help them integrate into local life and share local resources.

Securing employment and public wellbeing in the face of Covid-19. In response to the impact of Covid-19, Xinjiang has coordinated epidemic prevention and control with social and economic development. It has worked hard to stabilize employment, finance, foreign trade, inbound investment, domestic investment, and market expectations, and has put in place measures to guarantee jobs, daily living needs, food and energy, industrial and supply chains, the interests of market players, and the smooth functioning of grassroots government. The local government has taken multiple measures to alleviate economic difficulties and stabilize and boost employment, and adopted policies offering periodical and targeted cuts in taxes and other employer contributions, aiming to facilitate the resumption of production and business activities, and increase employment generated by investment and industries.

Through all these measures, Xinjiang has achieved significant progress in increasing employment and ensuring public wellbeing while implementing Covid-19 control on an ongoing basis. This can be exemplified by the following statistics as of the end of June 2020:

-- cuts of some RMB7.6 billion to old-age insurance, unemployment insurance, and work-related injury compensation insurance paid by enterprises, which represents a 50 percent reduction of RMB1.9 billion for large enterprises, and a complete exemption of RMB5.7 billion for micro, small and medium enterprises.

-- approval to 1,237 enterprises in difficulties to postpone the payment of their social insurance premiums, totaling RMB706 million.

-- reimbursement of unemployment insurance premiums of RMB904 million to 83,100 enterprises, benefiting 1.8 million employees.

-- provision of various employment subsidies totaling about RMB1.7 billion to 552,400 people.

-- creation of 339,700 new jobs in cities and towns, 41,800 new businesses hiring 69,500 employees, and jobs for 31,600 people with difficulty finding work.

-- placement of 2.6 million surplus rural workers through relocation, a year-on-year increase of 46.1 percent.