Anti poverty measures is the reason given, but China is changing Uighur province

ANI | Updated: Feb 20, 2018 07:14 IST

Beijing [China], Feb 20 (ANI): China is planning to lift over 4,00,000 people out of poverty within this year in its restive Xinjiang autonomous region in northwestern China, as the Chinese Government fears a rise in numbers of local armed groups.

According to Xinhua, the country has launched a three-year poverty eradication plan, which will specially focus in 22 poorest counties of Xinjiang province.

Under the new plan, officials will be sent to 192 areas in the 22 counties and stay there until 2020. Over 100 volunteers will assist the officials in the anti-poverty drive.

The drive is seen as a push by China's ruling Communist Party to tackle rural poverty in the country and to raise the annual income of citizens above the official poverty line of USD 362 by 2020.

Of the 6.1 billion yuan (USD 964 million) anti-poverty fund allocated by the Xinjiang regional government in 2017, over 80 percent of the funds reached four prefectures in the province - Kashgar, Hotan, Kizilsu and Aksu.

Xinjiang is China's only Muslim-majority province. In recent years, hundreds of people have been killed in violence between Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language, and migrants from the Han Chinese ethnic majority.

China has launched a major security operation in response to deadly violent incidents that has ravaged the province, which Beijing blames it on the ethnic Uighur "separatists".

It is home to about 10 million Uighur Muslims who have stated that they routinely face discrimination along with cultural and religious repression. However, Beijing denies such allegations.

Also, Uighurs are ethnically different from the Chinese culture and regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian countries. They aspire to establish an independent state named "East Turkestan".

There are some fears that some Uighurs might have joined militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Last year, the IS released a video purportedly showing Uighur fighters training in Iraq and vowing to launch terrorist attacks in China. (ANI)