'Cherish ethnic unity,' president tells Xinjiang


Xi vows to safeguard harmony and improve people's livelihoods in region

President Xi Jinping vowed on Friday to firmly safeguard the harmony and stability of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and improve the people's livelihoods in the northwestern region.

"We should love ethnic unity as loving our eyes, cherish ethnic unity like cherishing our lives, and hold together tightly like pomegranate seeds," Xi told lawmakers from Xinjiang while attending a panel discussion during the annual session of the National People's Congress, the top legislature.

Xinjiang is an important security barrier of Northwest China and has a strategic location, Xi said, adding that it is of great significance to handle all work in the region well.

According to the website of the autonomous region's government, Xinjiang covers an area of 1.66 million square kilometers, with more than 5,600 km of border with eight countries including Mongolia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It had 22.98 million people by the end of 2014, about 63 percent of whom are from ethnic groups other than Han.

Noting that China has many ethnic groups, Xi said ethnic unity is the lifeline of all people, the cornerstone of development and progress of Xinjiang, and also the common will of the 1.3 billion Chinese people.

During the discussion, eight lawmakers gave their suggestions on issues such as safeguarding social stability, promoting economic development, giving full play to the positive role of patriotic religious people and implementing policies to benefit the people.

Xi listened attentively to the lawmakers' advice, took notes and exchanged views with them from time to time.

The president pointed out that the general objective of the Xinjiang region's work is to ensure social stability and long-term peace. He called for modernization of the governance system, development of the economy, improvement of people's livelihoods and promotion of ethnic unity in the region.

Local authorities should improve development quality, push forward supply-side structural reform, cultivate characteristic industries and strengthen infrastructure construction, Xi said. He also asked about the region's growing and marketing of fruits including apples and pears.

Xi attached great importance to environmental protection of the autonomous region. He said that local authorities must say no to projects with high consumption of energy and high pollution. The work of preventing and controlling desertification must be strengthened, he said, while calling for a beautiful Xinjiang with blue skies, green land and clean water.

The president urged the local government to solve the problems that highly concern the people, thus making people of all ethnic groups feel the care of the Communist Party of China and the warmth of the country as a whole family.

Xi also emphasized the implementation of tailored poverty relief policies and precision measures in poverty-stricken areas, especially in southern Xinjiang, which he said is the main area for poverty alleviation work.

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