Mass relocations in Xinjiang


Xinhua News Agency reports:

About 160,000 farmers and herders in the poverty-stricken areas of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region will be relocated to ensure they live better lives in urban and tourist areas by 2019, the local government said.

A harsh ecological environment and frequent geological disasters have been hindering the development of the local economy. Relocation has thus been an important measure in Xinjiang’s fight against poverty.

“Life has undergone a tremendous change after relocation,” said 74-year-old Tursun Kerim, whose home was destroyed by a large flash flood in July 2016 that left a total of 116 households in despair. Within days, the affected families, once tucked deep away in the Kunlun Mountains, were relocated to new homes with the help of the Yecheng county government. “We now have access to health centers, schools and kindergartens. Young people have more job opportunities,” he said.

There’s a little more information in Xinhua’s Chinese report, but detail is sparse. The program seems to be focused on moving people from the mountainous Kizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture to Kashgar.

“Now another form of mass relocations in Xinjiang,” tweeted Xinjiang scholar Adrian Zenz: “Sounds similar to relocation of nomads in Tibetan regions, which often causes a removal of familiar livelihood strategies. Compare native American settlements.”

Other Xinjiang reporting:

  • Barbed wire, not textbooks: Adrian Zenz has published a new report in the Jamestown China Brief titled Xinjiang’s re-education and securitization campaign: evidence from domestic security budgets. It focuses on state spending on detention and “re-education.” The evidence belies Beijing’s claims that the internment camps provide “vocational training.”
  • “China faced harsh criticism over its rights record during a review before the United Nations on Tuesday, with countries voicing alarm at the country’s mass detainment of ethnic Uighurs and its crackdown on civil liberties,” reports Hong Kong Free Press. (Their report includes a video of the whole three-hour review.) The head of the large Chinese delegation to the UN event rejected the criticism as “politically driven accusations from a few countries which are fraught with biases.”
  • “About 500 people, including ethnic Uyghurs but also pro-Tibet demonstrators, marched through Geneva before holding a boisterous, colorful rally at Geneva’s landmark three-legged chair outside the UN offices,” reports the Washington Post.