Beijing is speeding up development of the labour-intensive cotton-growing and textile industry in Xinjiang - indirectly encouraging more Han settlement and stirring up ethnic unrest, according to sources. The State Council aims to turn the Uygur autonomous region, which boasts China's best cotton-growing conditions, into the nation's most important cotton producer in the current Ninth Five-Year Plan, ending in 2000. Beijing had also urged the textile industry in coastal cities, where land and labour were getting too expensive, to move production to Xinjiang to make use of the local cotton supply. As a result, more than 500,000 spinners had been moved to Xinjiang since the early 1990s, the sources said. They estimated more than 300,000 Han workers or farmers had moved to the region to grow cotton or work in textile factories in the past two years. More than 250,000 Han had settled in Xinjiang from 1993 to 1995, according to official statistics. The Uygurs and other minorities accounted for 59.1 per cent of Xinjiang's 16.61 million population by the end of 1995, down from 62 per cent two years before. The two sectors' rapid expansion had fuelled fears that the Han population would dominate Xinjiang, both demographically and economically, which had resulted in increasing separatist unrest, the sources added. Under the five-year plan, Beijing has allocated 9.4 billion yuan (HK$8.77 billion) to develop Xinjiang's cotton growing. It will spend 30 million yuan on related research. Beijing had also promised to buy all cotton grown in Xinjiang at attractive prices, the sources said.