Xinjiang chief vows to bring home street kids

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 12:00am


Xinjiang party chief Zhang Chunxian promised to bring Xinjiang children living as vagrants in other provinces back home, a move analysts said may help ease ethnic tension - and Zhang's political career ahead of next year's party congress.

Zhang announced the campaign at a Communist Party conference in Urumqi on Thursday. He said regional government leadership would discuss the issue with other provinces during visits scheduled for next week, state media reported.

'We'll work closely with these provinces and cities. We hope to bring these children back at an early date,' Zhang said, adding that the regional government would also send teams to other parts of the country.

Once back, the children would be placed in government-run shelters for their protection and would receive free schooling and vocational training, he said. A 50 million yuan (HK$59.58 million) training centre is planned, Xinjiang's relief office said.

The move is aimed at helping Xinjiang's vagrant children resume normal lives and at restoring the region's reputation. Xinhua said it had gained notoriety as a source of 'young robbers and thieves' in many cities.

Hong Kong-based commentator Johnny Lau Yui-sui said vagrant Xinjiang children had long been a headache for many local governments. 'But I am sure that Zhang wants to use this campaign to help him to become a Politburo member because it will help him to win more support from the Uygur public,' he said.