Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mr Chen's recipe: tourism in Xinjiang

Repression before Tourism
At the end of August 2016, Wu Yingjie took over as Party Secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) from Chen Quanguo who was sent to ‘pacify’ Xinjiang.
The decision had been taken during the annual closed-door meeting at Beidahe.
An official statement released had then announced that Zhang Chunxian would be replaced by Chen Quanguo as secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Committee of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
This was indeed a promotion for Chen, given the fact that Xinjiang's Party Secretaries often serve in the Politburo (though Chen will have to wait until the 19th Party Congress later this year to find out if he has made it).
In the meantime, Chen has to deliver the goods.
A question on everybody’s lips: will Chen apply the same recipe to pacify the restive Muslim Dominion than he used in Tibet.
Six months after his appointment, it looks like Chen is ready to use ‘tourism’ as a weapon of mass destruction to eliminate the resentment of the Uyghur population against the Central Government in Beijing.

Large Scale Training
Last week, Xinhua announced that the XUAR will train 1.2 million rural residents by 2020 as part of a new wave of infrastructure spending.
Why so much infrastructure?
Let us not forget that all infrastructure developments in China have a dual use, military and civilian.
The civilian part is usually linked to tourism (at least it is so in Tibet).
According to The Global Times: “Xinjiang's fixed asset investment will surpass 1.5 trillion yuan (around 217 billion US dollars) in 2017, up more than 50 percent year on year.”
The mouthpiece of the Party speaks of a training program “to meet labor demand in various projects, mainly in infrastructure sectors such as transport, water conservancy, energy and telecommunication.”
Ming Hong, deputy head of regional department of human resources and social security told The Global Times: “Xinjiang will provide language and skills training to 800,000 farmers and herdsmen that have no working experience, over the next four years.”
Language skills refer to Mandarin and perhaps English.
Ming says that the government wants to offer training ranging from one to three months to 360,000 rural labors: “From this year to 2020, another 40,000 young people, mainly from southern Xinjiang, will enroll in vocational schools and be offered occupational qualification certificates after two to three years of study.”
The new trainees will mainly be used in the tourism sector.
The Global Times admits: “Addressing the employment of surplus labor is the key to Xinjiang's social stability and economic development.”
In other words, the same formula than in Tibet: tourism = stability = integration.

More planes for Xinjiang
Another indication of the direction Beijing has decided to move in Xinjiang is given by article in The China Daily.
It says that during the current year, Xinjiang will import 10 new aircraft from Switzerland to develop tourism, improve emergency rescue capabilities and boost its role in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Lin Haitao, head of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Aviation Business Administration told the media: “The first of the 10 aircraft - all of which are Pilatus PC-12 produced by Switzerland's Pilatus Aircraft Co - recently arrived in Shihezi in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and the second one is expected to arrive soon.”
The aircraft will be operated by Xinjiang General Aviation Co Ltd, one of the country's biggest aviation service providers in China.
According to the same source, the 10 new airplanes will be mainly used to "transport tourists between scenic spots that are scattered across the vast autonomous region, as well as being chartered for emergency rescue missions. The fleet can also serve neighboring countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), if needed.”
The OBOR initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to rejuvenate two ancient trade routes - the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road - regional connectivity is closely linked to the new strategy.
Liu Kuntong, director of planning in the local government explained: "The addition of the 10 airplanes is just the start of our efforts to improve regional connectivity. We will increase investment in the sector and support the goal of building an air passage along the Belt and the Road."
Apart from the OBOR which is a panacea for all problems in China today, tourism like in Tibet, can kill several birds with one stone …and its helps develop infrastructure for the PLA.
The most important initiative is the new link road between Tibet and Xinjiang already mentioned on this blog.
Tourism also provides employment; improve the living standard of local Uyghur population and gives opportunities for Han migration, etc.

Delegates to the 'Two Sessions'
According to China Tibet Online during the recent ‘Two Sessions’, representatives to the National People's Congress (NPC) from Xinjiang and Tibet stated that the OBOR, “expanded the vision of residents in remote and poverty-stricken regions and is bringing the northwestern region of the country into a well-off society along with the rest of China.”
Yang Qin, a representative from Xinjiang remarked: “Trading between Xinjiang and Central Asia are busier than ever. As long as we have good products, we never have to worry about sales."
As the chairman of a fruit products cooperative in Manas County of Changji Prefecture in Xinjiang, she said that she benefited from the opportunities provided by the OROB.
Yang Qin explained: “The cooperative members have reaped the rewards of cross-border trading. This year, we have brought in new species of specialty mushrooms and are trying to expand production. We're hoping to break into the international market by the end of the year.”
There is of course a large part of propaganda especially when a delegate from Tibet says: “Tibet is now becoming the relay point between China and South Asia. There is a nonstop stream of merchants incoming from India, Nepal, and other countries, and trading is becoming more and more robust.”
There is hardly any trade with India through the three official land-ports (Shipkila, Lipulekla and Nathula). But the ‘Two Sessions’ is first and foremost a propaganda exercise.
A Nepalese businessman who frequents China for business and opened an import/export company in Kyirong land-port between Nepal and Tibet said that “With the rapid growth of China-Nepal trading in the past two years, his business has also taken off and is earning 450 thousand Yuan (65 thousand US dollars) annually: “There are about eight thousand kinds of Nepalese products being sent to and sold in southwest China's Tibet every year.”
There is no doubt that a ‘good’ delegate should praise Xi Jinping, the Core Leader and its Dream Project, the OBOR.
It remains that the Xinjiang government under Chen Quanguo is decided to increase infrastructure construction “for transportation, irrigation, energy, and other infrastructure in Tibet”.
Whether it is part of the OBOR initiative or not is irrelevant.
According to Xinhua, some 25 proposals were submitted by the Tibet delegation to the National People's Congress; it included infrastructure construction, livelihood improvement, industrial development, environmental protection in the fields of “politics, economics, culture, education, ecology and other areas,” reported the news agency.
The proposals on infrastructure construction projects include railways, highways, water conservancy, electric power, ecological zones and logistics parks, “which are the most urgent problems needing high attention on the region's way to reform and development,” explained one delegate.
There is no doubt that the delegates from Xinjiang presented similar requirements.
Millions of Han tourists will soon visit the Western Dominion, before that, some minimum level of security needs to be insured by the authorities to reassure the tourists.
The Han tourists are not a very brave lot, they stop en masse coming to France after the terror attacks last year.
It is a tricky job for Mr Chen.

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