Soaring economy has brought peace, says Xinjiang leader

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 12:00am

Prosperity means terrorists are detested 'like scurrying rats'

Double-digit economic growth and co-operation with neighbouring countries have brought a year of peace and stability in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, according to its chairman.

'Not a single explosion, nor any assassinations. Xinjiang had the best public security in China last year,' Ismail Tiliwaldi told a press conference organised by the central government in Beijing.

He said Xinjiang enjoyed 10.8 per cent economic growth last year, faster than the 9.1 per cent average for the country as a whole, thanks to generous help from the central government in developing the energy sector and restructuring traditional agriculture practices in the region.

Xinjiang has abundant energy resources, including one third of the mainland's crude oil reserves, 35 per cent of the nation's gas and 40 per cent of its coal. Petroleum and petrochemicals account for 60 per cent of the region's industrial output.

In the agricultural sector, Xinjiang has become the mainland's largest producer of cotton, hops and tomato sauce. Growing fruit and raising livestock would further lift the rural population out of poverty, Mr Tiliwaldi said.

This economic wellbeing had made terrorists detested in Xinjiang 'like scurrying rats across the street', he said.

International co-operation had helped the mainland apprehend terrorists and check the spread of separatism, which had posed serious threats to national security, the safety of people living in Xinjiang and social stability in the 1990s, Mr Tiliwaldi said.

China is a member of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, which meets annually to discuss security issues. The other members are Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Mr Tiliwaldi denied the central government had pushed for more Han Chinese immigrants into Xinjiang, where Uygurs, a Turkic-speaking people, are the majority.

He said Xinjiang received 10 million visitors a year, of which 200,000 to 300,000 are from foreign countries. About 400 to 500 foreign nationals live and work in Xinjiang.