Discriminatory Job Hiring Practices Continue in Xinjiang

October 20, 2010

Job recruitment in the far western region of Xinjiang continues to discriminate against Uyghurs and other groups by reserving positions exclusively for Han Chinese. The job recruitment practices, including in a number of government positions, contravene provisions in Chinese law that forbid discrimination. Examples from recent months include one civil servant recruitment drive that reserved 78 percent of available positions for Han. The remainder of the positions was either reserved for ethnic minorities or available to all candidates. The groups the Chinese government defines as "ethnic minorities" comprise roughly 60 percent of Xinjiang's population.

Hiring practices that discriminate against groups the Chinese government designates as ethnic minorities have continued in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in the past year. As documented in past Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)analyses (1, 2), job recruitment announcements from the region have reserved positions exclusively for Han Chinese in civil servant posts and state-owned enterprises, as well as in private job announcements posted on both government and non-government Web sites. Such discriminatory practices have continued in the past year, even as at least one announcement reports an increase in positions available to ethnic minorities. The restrictions accompany other discriminatory requirements, also present in some job recruitment programs elsewhere in China, based on factors such as sex and age. (See Section II-Status of Women and Section II-Public Health in the CECC 2009 Annual Report for additional information.)

Job announcements that reserve positions exclusively for Han contravene provisions in China's Constitution and in Chinese laws that forbid discrimination. See, for example, Article 4 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law (REAL), both of which forbid discrimination based on ethnicity. Article 12 of the Labor Law and Article 3 of the Employment Promotion Law state that job applicants shall not face discrimination in job hiring based on factors including ethnicity, and Article 28 of the Employment Promotion Law states that all ethnicities enjoy equal labor rights. Within this framework of non-discrimination, several provisions in Chinese law permit separate measures to promote the hiring of groups designated as ethnic minorities. Article 14 of the Labor Law allows for separate legal stipulations to govern the hiring of ethnic minorities, and Article 28 of the Employment Promotion Law says that employing units shall give appropriate consideration to ethnic minority workers in job hiring. In addition, Article 22 of the REAL provides that ethnic autonomous government agencies shall give appropriate consideration to ethnic minorities in job hiring. Article 28 of the Implementing Provisions for the REAL also provides that ethnic autonomous areas give appropriate consideration to ethnic minorities in the job hiring process for government positions and includes provisions for their participation in higher levels of government. See a previous CECC analysis for additional detailed information.

The recent job hiring announcements follow an Opinion on employment promotion, implemented by the XUAR government and Party Committee in October 2009, that calls for enterprises registered in the XUAR and other enterprises contracted to work there to recruit no fewer than 50 percent of workers from among the local population (Part 2.2). The opinion also promotes "recruiting more ethnic minorities to the extent possible" (Part 2.2) and providing equal opportunities for employment (Part 3). In addition, employers are instructed to guarantee a fixed proportion of positions for ethnic minorities as part of work to increase recruitment of college graduates and prioritize graduates from the XUAR (Part 1.5). The opinion does not specify whether the guidance applies to civil servant positions.

While some recruitment programs from the past year have not restricted positions by ethnicity and reserved positions for Han (see, e.g., a roster of available positions in Urumqi municipal institutions in an August 8 announcement on Xinjiang Education Net), others continued to do so, including in the following examples:

  • Discriminatory Bingtuan Hiring Continues. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC or "Bingtuan") announced in May that it would hire 1,131 civil servants, consisting of 53 positions in the XPCC, 497 in several agricultural divisions, 177 public security positions, and 404 positions in the prison system, according to a May 14 announcement on the Bingtuan Personnel Testing Authority Web site (also available via Huatu Education Web site). The announcement reported that 472 jobs were designated for Han, 51 for ethnic minorities, and 204 without restrictions, leaving them open to all candidates including Han. The announcement also noted in parentheses that all 404 positions in the prison system were for Han. According to the announcement, members of the Hui and Manchu ethnic groups could apply for jobs designated for Han, but other groups could not. Based on CECC analysis of the roster of open positions, 882 positions total were reserved for Han (78 percent of open positions), 1 for a Uyghur or Kazakh, 45 for Uyghurs (4 percent, including the position also open to a Kazakh), 2 for Kazakhs (0.27 percent, including the position also available to a Uyghur), 1 for an unspecified "ethnic minority" (0.09 percent) and 200 were unrestricted by ethnicity (18 percent), leaving them open to all groups including Han. Adding in positions unrestricted by ethnicity or open to an unspecified "ethnic minority," 96 percent of the positions were available to Han, 22 percent to Uyghurs, and 18 percent to Kazakhs, while 18 percent remained open to other ethnic minorities. (Analysis based on roster of open positions available via Excel sheet download on the Tengxun Education Web site and RAR file from the Qinghe (Chinggil) county government Web site. Numbers rounded to the nearest one except where less than 1 percent.)

    The 2010 announcement follows past XPCC recruiting cycles that also reserved the vast majority of positions for Han. (See CECC analyses 1, 2.) In 2009, for example, the XPCC recruited for 894 positions, of which 744 were reserved for Han, 11 for Uyghurs, 2 for Kazakhs, and 137 designated as unrestricted by ethnicity. The 2010 recruitment announcement said that the 2010 quotas would raise the proportion of jobs designated as "unrestricted by ethnicity" or "ethnic minority" up to 22.6 percent of the total jobs offered, compared with 12.4 percent of all jobs in 2009. The figure of 22.6 percent appears to include all positions designated for one or more non-Han groups or unrestricted by ethnicity. Because Han are also eligible for the unrestricted jobs, the proportion of jobs reserved explicitly for members of specified or unspecified minorities would increase from 1.45 percent in 2009 to 4.2 percent in 2010, according to CECC calculations.

  • Teacher Recruiting Restricts Jobs. Also in May, the XUAR Education Department announced a recruitment drive for more than 10,000 elementary and secondary school teachers, according to a May 27 Tianshan Net article. Of the 10,643 jobs listed in a roster of available positions, 3,052 (29 percent) were reserved for Han, 5,665 (53 percent) were unrestricted by ethnicity, 1,767 (17 percent) were reserved specifically for Uyghurs, 130 (1.22 percent) for Kazakhs, 18 (0.17 percent) for Kyrgyz, 5 (.05 percent) for Hui, 1 for a Russian (0.01 percent), and 5 (0.05 percent) for Mongols. (Analysis based on roster of positions available as download from the XUAR Human Resources and Social Security Department.) Many of the positions for non-Han groups require knowledge of Mandarin, suggesting that the ethnicity-based requirements were not used as a proxy to signify the language of instruction in a particular teaching position but rather were used as an independent factor in job recruitment.
  • Xinjiang Government Reserves Jobs for Han. During May recruiting for a series of civil servant positions in the XUAR, 28 percent of the positions (2,639 of 9,512 jobs) were exclusively reserved for Han, according to CECC analysis. (Analysis based on roster of positions available as a download from a May 26 Tianshan Net article). A May 20 article on China Xinjiang paraphrased the vice director of the XUAR civil service bureau as saying a set number of positions would be guaranteed for ethnic minorities, while the remainder "to the extent possible" would be unrestricted by ethnicity. Based on CECC analysis of the 9,512 available positions, 72 percent of the positions (6,863 jobs) were available to ethnic minorities, including positions open to all non-Han groups as well as those designated for specific communities, meaning not all 72 percent of the positions were available for all non-Han groups. Roughly 38 percent (3,642) of the positions were unrestricted by ethnicity, 17 percent (1,579) designated for unspecified "ethnic minorities," and 17 percent (1,642) for members of specified ethnic minority groups, including 62 positions available to the member of a specified group or a Han. Some categories of jobs reserved a majority of positions for Han, such as 500 of 698 positions in town and township offices in the four southern districts of the XUAR. In other areas, jobs were split among different groups or a majority of positions was unrestricted.
  • As Oil Industry Booms, Industry Jobs Favor Han. In an August announcement for jobs with the Xinjiang PetroChina Pipe Engineering Co., a subsidiary of the state-owned enterprise China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), all 50 open positions were reserved for Han. (See the August 11, 2010, job announcement on the Internet Recruiting Association Web site and company introduction on its Web site for more information about the company's relationship with CNPC.) The CNPC also has recruited for jobs in the XUAR in the past that reserved positions for Han. (See an April 7, 2009, announcement on the Xinjiang University Web site.) The August 2010 job recruiting comes as the CNPC has announced plans to increase oil production in the XUAR. Following a series of initiatives announced at the May 2010 Xinjiang Work Forum to boost economic development in the region, a July 20 People's Daily article reported that the CNPC would "develop Xinjiang as a major oil and gas production and processing base over the next 10 years," in anticipation of the XUAR becoming "the country's most significant base" in oil production and storage, according to a paraphrasing of CNPC's remarks.

For more information on conditions in the XUAR, see Section IV―Xinjiang in the CECC 2010 Annual Report.