Job Discrimination Against Ethnic Minorities Continues in Xinjiang

March 31, 2011

Hiring practices that discriminate against Uyghurs and other groups by reserving positions exclusively for Han Chinese have continued in Xinjiang in the past year. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China found recent job recruiting announcements that reserved some or all positions for Han, in contravention of provisions in Chinese law. The jobs include both civil service positions and industry jobs advertised on government Web sites. A new training program reportedly provides jobs for non-Han college graduates who participate in training classes elsewhere in China, but the program does not address barriers to employment due to discriminatory job hiring practices. Uyghurs and other non-Han groups in Xinjiang―all of whom the Chinese government designates as "ethnic minorities"―comprise roughly 60 percent of Xinjiang's population.

Hiring practices that discriminate against non-Han groups have continued in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). As documented by the CECC in recent years (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), job recruitment announcements from the region have reserved positions exclusively for Han Chinese in civil servant posts, state-owned enterprises, and private-sector jobs, including those advertised on government Web sites. The practices contravene provisions in Chinese law that forbid discrimination. The restrictions accompany other discriminatory requirements, present in some job recruitment programs elsewhere in China, based on factors such as sex and age. (See Section II―Worker Rights in the CECC 2010 Annual Report for additional information.)

Recent job announcements include civil service positions as well as industry jobs advertised on local government Web sites. Among the recent announcements are job postings that reserve high-level or skilled positions exclusively for Han workers. A recent government document from the XUAR (discussed below) addresses unemployment among ethnic minority college graduates through a new training program, but the document does not reference restrictive job recruitment practices as a barrier to the employment of minority graduates. Recent job postings include:

  • An announcement for teaching positions for the 2011 year at a middle school in Hoten district―a locality the announcement describes as 96.3 percent Uyghur and 3.5 percent Han―advertised all 20 open positions for Han, according to a copy of the announcement posted March 2, 2011, on Teacher Recruiting Net. In addition to specifying "Han" as the required ethnicity, the announcement separately specifies "Mandarin" as the language used in the teaching positions, indicating that ethnicity is not a proxy for perceived language ability but an independent factor in job recruitment.
  • Civil servant recruitment for county-level discipline inspection and supervision offices reserved 93 of 224 open positions for Han Chinese, leaving 93 positions unrestricted by ethnicity and reserving the remaining 38 positions for Kazakhs, Uyghurs, Hui, Kyrgyz, and unspecified "ethnic minorities," according to a job announcement posted September 16, 2010, on the Xinjiang Personnel Testing Center Web site.
  • A job announcement for a hospital in Urumqi municipality advertised for 28 positions in late 2010, all of which were reserved for Han, according to an announcement posted November 26, 2010, on the Graduate School of Lanzhou University Web site. Thirty of the positions were reserved for students with graduate study.
  • A job recruitment announcement for the Xinjiang Youpai Energy Company, posted February 21, 2011, on the Web site of the Fukang municipal government, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, specified that all 56 openings for engineers and other skilled workers were reserved for Han, of which 55 were designated for Han men 45 years old or below.
  • All 109 open positions at the Nilka County Shenda Industries in Nilka, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, advertised for workers with junior high and vocational school degrees, were reserved for Han men, according to a February 16, 2011, announcement posted on the Nilka county Labor and Social Security Office Web site.
  • Of 72 positions available at the Xinjiang Nanfang Mining Industries, the 12 positions requiring higher education were reserved for Han men, according to a job announcement posted February 16, 2011, on the Nilka county Labor and Social Security Office Web site.

The announcements follow an opinion on employment promotion, issued 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). Information on cases of adherence to the opinion remains limited.

In January 2011, several XUAR government and Party offices issued an opinion on sending ethnic minority university graduates to training in areas engaged in counterpart support relationships with the region, under which provinces and municipalities elsewhere in China are matched with localities within the XUAR to provide monetary, personnel, and other assistance in XUAR development efforts. Citing concerns about employment pressures on the region's stability and economic development (Part 1), the opinion outlines plans for a program to train unemployed college graduates from the XUAR in provinces and municipalities involved in counterpart support with the region, with ethnic minority graduates and women constituting no less than 80 and 60 percent, respectively, of the participants. The program will dispatch 22,000 students within the next two years for periods of training from one to two years (Part 2), after which successful trainees will take up set posts (Part 5(2)). The government has arranged posts in state-run institutions and state-owned enterprises within the XUAR, though trainees may remain in counterpart support areas and may find their own employment, according to March 25 and 26, 2011, Xinhua reports (March 26 report via China Daily). The program was launched on March 24, according to the March 25 report. The opinion outlining the parameters of the program states its usefulness in "transforming ideas," promoting "good sentiments" among the ethnicities, strengthening a "sense of identification toward the Chinese nation" (zhonghua minzu), and promoting social stability and "ethnic assimilation" (minzu ronghe) (Item 1). The opinion does not address barriers to employment due to job recruiting practices that reserve positions for Han.

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