China's Xinjiang region unveils poverty relief plan

People queueing to take a bus in Aksu in Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The far-western Chinese region is planning a poverty relief scheme for the region's 22 poorest counties, which include some in Aksu prefecture. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's north-western Xinjiang is planning a poverty relief scheme targeting the restive region's 22 poorest counties, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday (Feb 18).

Xinjiang, a huge region bordering Central Asia, has long been a security focus for Beijing, which has led a massive security clamp down there after deadly bouts of ethnic violence it blames on local Uighur extremists.

The three-year poverty relief plan would target counties in the Xinjiang prefectures of Kashgar, Hotan, Kizilsu and Aksu, and would look to lift 400,000 local people out of poverty this year, the state news agency reported.

It would see officials sent to 192 areas in the counties until 2020, by when the regional government aims to have found employment for 100,00 destitute people in the four prefectures, Xinhua said.

Xinhua did not give an amount that would be spent on the drive, but said the regional government had been allocated 6.1 billion yuan (S$1.26 billion) in anti-poverty funds last year, of which 80 per cent had gone to these four prefectures.

The poverty-reduction drive is part of a broader push by China's ruling Communist Party to tackle deep-rooted rural poverty and to raise the annual income of residents above the official poverty line of 2,300 yuan by 2020.

China's gross domestic product per person is US$8,123 according to the World Bank.

China brought 12.89 million rural people out of poverty in 2017.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years in violence between Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, and ethnic majority Han Chinese, especially in the heavily Uighur southern part of Xinjiang.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.