China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang is planning a poverty relief scheme targeting its 22 poorest counties, state-run Xinhua reported on Sunday. Xinjiang, a huge region bordering Central Asia, has long been a security focus for Beijing, which has led a massive security clampdown there after deadly bouts of ethnic violence it blames on local Uygur extremists. The three-year poverty relief plan would target counties in the Xinjiang prefectures of Kashgar, Hotan, Kizilsu and Aksu, and would look to lift 400,000 residents out of poverty this year, the report said. How questioning China’s security crackdown in Xinjiang led to a 20-year jail term It would see officials sent to 192 areas in the counties until 2020, by when the regional government aims to have found employment for destitute people in the four prefectures, the report said. Xinhua did not say how much would be spent on the drive, but said the regional government had been allocated 6.1 billion yuan (US$961.57 million) in poverty alleviation funds last year, of which 80 per cent had gone to these four prefectures. China said to be testing facial recognition system to monitor Muslim-dominated Xinjiang region The drive is part of a broader push by China’s ruling Communist Party to tackle deep-rooted rural poverty and to raise the annual income of residents above the official poverty line of 2,300 yuan per year by 2020. China’s gross domestic product per person is US$8,123 according to the World Bank. About 12.89 million rural people rose above the poverty line last year. Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years in violence between Uygurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, and ethnic majority Han Chinese, especially in the heavily Uygur southern part of Xinjiang.