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Empowering Xinjiang
China Today
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Empowering Xinjiang

Early in the morning, Hankiz Ablimit leaves her home in Aksu Prefecture, southern Xinjiang, takes a train to Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and then transfers to another train bound for her final destination, Bole in northwestern Xinjiang. The journey takes one day and one night to complete.

Bole, capital city of Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, houses the prefecture’s only formal institution of higher learning – Bortala Polytechnic. Hankiz studies in this university, with 10 colleges. Most of the teachers working here come from Hubei Province in central China.

Hubei is one of the 19 provincial-level regions participating in China’s national pairing assistance program for Xinjiang. While providing assistance, these regions have been helping Xinjiang’s capacity building. With years of efforts, an effective mechanism for all-round assistance in terms of talent, technology, management, and funds has been put in place, helping people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang solve their basic livelihood problems, such as employment, education, and housing, as well as supporting the development of industries suitable for Xinjiang’s local conditions.

Spreading Know-How

“I majored in e-commerce and wanted to be a host for livestreaming sales promotion after graduation,” said Hankiz, who is simulating livestreaming in a studio with her classmates.

The business school of Bortala Polytechnic is assisted by Wuhan Polytechnic and Huanggang Polytechnic College, and has established school-enterprise cooperative relations with and other enterprises. According to Ju Shouyong, vice president of Bortala Polytechnic, 335 teachers from more than 50 undergraduate and higher vocational colleges in Hubei Province have been selected and sent to Xinjiang to teach in the college since 2005. At present, the college has 15,010 students and 639 faculty members, including 21 teachers from Hubei Province.

“This is my fourth time to work in Xinjiang under the pairing assistance program, and I have long regarded Xinjiang as my second home,” said Zhang Yao, a teacher from Huanggang Polytechnic College. Bortala Polytechnic started to offer a tourism e-commerce program during the first half of 2015. Zhang came to the college at that time for the first time and taught three courses for the program. He regrettably was unable to be with his daughter while she took her college entrance examination. After that, he came to work in 2017, 2021 and 2023, respectively.

During these four different periods, Zhang not only saw the development of Bortala Polytechnic, but also witnessed the strong friendship grow between Hubei and Xinjiang. Like him, Xing Weiping from Hubei Three Gorges Polytechnic also overcame difficulties and came to work in Sayram Lake Tourism College of Bortala in February 2023 for 18 months.

“Bortala is a popular tourist destination. To help the prefecture train highly competent tourism talent, we give lessons during tourist off-season and provide internships during the peak season,” said Xing. She explained that regardless of the fact that students here have a weak educational foundation, they work hard and are eager to learn. To prepare for a vocational skills competition, students often use their spare time to study.

Since the third central conference on work related to Xinjiang in 2020, the paring assistance program for Xinjiang has been upgraded from one-way assistance to a new mechanism of cooperation. In recent years, students who graduated from Bortala Polytechnic have secured jobs in various industries, contributing to the development of Xinjiang.

Small Nuts, Big Changes

Jiangguoguo Agricultural Technology Co., Ltd. was established in Kashgar, southern Xinjiang, in 2015. Its products cover a variety of categories, such as nuts, snack food, health drinks, and seasonal fresh fruit. The products are sold nationwide, and exported to other countries, like Belgium and Pakistan. In 2020, the company’s sales exceeded RMB 100 million for the first time.

There is a beautiful story of mutual help behind the establishment of Jiangguoguo. In March 2015, Chen Wenjun came to Kashgar as an employee of Guangdong Construction Engineering Group to support Xinjiang’s development. “I found that the local people are very simple and kind. They helped us a lot,” said Chen.

One memory remains fresh in his mind. On the evening of June 30, 2015, his car broke down, and two young Uygur men helped him tow his car for nearly seven hours without taking a penny, only leaving the words, “Friends, I believe when we are in trouble, you will definitely help us.”

This little episode changed Chen’s life trajectory. “I planned to work in Kashgar for a year or two only and then return, but being so deeply moved by this experience, I decided to stay and help local residents sell the unique Xinjiang melons and fruits,” Chen said. Being man of his word, he established Jiangguoguo in November 2015.

Since its establishment, Jiangguoguo has helped farmers improve the planting of 300 hectares of fruit trees. The company also promises to purchase all of the ripe fruits from farmers. So far, it has purchased 105,000 tons of local agricultural products and helped 50,000 farmers increase their income. The company has trained more than 50,000 people through 800 training sessions, signed cooperation agreements with 76 agricultural cooperatives, and helped 3,500 people find employment close to their home. A total of 146 farmers became shareholders in the company, receiving a total of RMB 1.4 million in dividends.

Jiangguoguo now has 405 employees, 360 of which are of Uygur and other ethnic people, accounting for 90 percent of the total headcount. Abudureyimu Kamili works at the Department of Warehousing and Logistics. After graduating from high school, he came home and worked as a farmer, making an annual income of less than RMB 20,000. He was recommended to work in Jiangguoguo by a friend in 2019. Because of his hard-working and outstanding performance, he became a shareholder of the company the following year, and was promoted to a team leader of 18 people three years later. Now, he has a stable monthly income of about RMB 5,000, and it can even reach RMB 8,000 in the peak sales season. “I once lived in the village, but now I have bought a house and a car in the city of Kashgar, and my daughter goes to school here. Life is getting better and better,” he said as he exclaimed over the changes that Jiangguoguo has brought to his life.

Illuminating the Road

On the Pamir Plateau at an altitude of more than 3,300 meters, 77,760 photovoltaic modules were basking in bright sunlight even though it was six o’clock in the evening. The first centralized photovoltaic power station for poverty reduction in Xinjiang – Shenzhen Energy Futa Photovoltaic Power Station – is located here.

The power station, located in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Kashgar Prefecture, covers an area of more than 42 hectares. With an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters, the county is rich in sunlight resources, boasting 4,434.7 hours of sunshine throughout the year. It is precisely because of its unique geographical location that the Shenzhen government delegation decided to build a photovoltaic power station when they visited the county in June 2017. The power station is jointly funded by the Futian district government and Shenzhen Energy Group, and the proceeds from power generation will be used for local targeted poverty alleviation efforts.

According to Yan Yuzhi, the station’s safety engineer in charge, many challenges emerged during the construction processes. For example, hypoxia often occurs in regions of high altitude, and construction time is limited to only six months per year because of long winters. In the end, despite the harsh conditions, the construction was completed in one year and it was connected to the power grid on May 31, 2018. Up till now, the power station has generated more than 200 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

The average annual power generation capacity can reach 40 million kilowatt hours without power rationing, said Yan. According to the current electricity price under the poverty alleviation program, the average amount of profits and taxes generated each year is around RMB 10.23 million, and the distributable profits of all the income will be used for the targeted poverty alleviation work in the county. The policy will be implemented for 20 years. According to plans, the money will be put into local funds of education, medical care for those suffering from serious illnesses, and poor household relief. It can bring jobs for 16,806 local people and help them achieve prosperity.

The station also directly increases local employment. At present, the power station has nine employees, two of whom are locals. Xiarewana Mairiwanjiang, a Tajik woman, is one of them.

In September 2020, she was hired as an operation and maintenance engineer at the power station. Working at the power station has been challenging for her because the photovoltaic industry requires a certain amount of professional knowledge, which she lacked. She had to learn everything from scratch. Through continuous self-study, mentorship, and training provided by the power station, the 26-year-old has mastered considerable amount of expertise and can now undertake the daily operation, maintenance, inspection, and other responsibilities. More importantly, this job has given her a sense of accomplishment. “I’m very proud to be able to contribute a little bit to the development of my hometown,” she said.

China TodayGu Yetao

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