Recruitment for State Jobs in Xinjiang Discriminates Against Ethnic Minorities

July 2, 2009

Ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) continue to face widespread discrimination in recruitment for state jobs, according to Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) analysis of recent recruiting efforts for jobs in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) and XUAR schools. The recent recruitment programs follow other examples of discriminatory job recruiting practices in the XUAR and come during a period of high unemployment for XUAR college graduates.

Discrimination in Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Continues

The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) has announced plans to recruit for 894 positions, of which 744 have been reserved for Han Chinese, according to rosters of available job openings. (See an index of job openings posted May 7 on the Bingtuan Personnel Testing Authority Web site to download the rosters.) Of the remaining positions, 137 are specified as unrestricted by ethnicity and thus are open to applicants of all ethnic groups including Han, while 11 positions are reserved for Uyghurs and 2 positions are reserved for Kazakhs. The job recruitment follows earlier discriminatory hiring practices in the XPCC documented by the CECC in 2006. All of the positions advertised in the 2009 XPCC recruiting program require at least a technical or college degree. The positions include jobs in employing agencies such as government bureaus, Communist Party committee offices, the XPCC court system, and prisons. All candidates must take the job recruitment exam in Mandarin Chinese, according to information on the job recruiting program posted May 7 on the Bingtuan Personnel Testing Authority Web site. (For additional information on the 2009 XPCC job recruitment, see also a brochure posted May 7 on the Bingtuan Personnel Testing Authority Web site and an article posted May 8 on the Kashgar district government Web site.)

As noted in previous analysis by the CECC, the Chinese government established the XPCC in 1954 as a means of settling demobilized soldiers and Han migrants to perform border defense functions and to support economic development. The central government's 2003 White Paper on the History and Development of Xinjiang says that the ranks of the XPCC are now "a mosaic of people from 37 ethnic groups, including the Han, Uygur, Kazak, Hui, and Mongolian." The White Paper describes the XPCC as "a special social organization, which handles its own administrative and judicial affairs" but "in accordance with the laws and regulations of the state and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region." As noted by the CECC, Chinese law forbids discrimination based on ethnicity. Within this framework of non-discrimination, several provisions in Chinese laws stipulate measures to promote the hiring of ethnic minorities.

Teaching Positions Discriminate Against Ethnic Minorities

Recent job recruitment announcements from one district and one autonomous prefecture in the XUAR also indicate widespread discrimination against ethnic minorities during the recruitment process for jobs in XUAR schools. In Aqsu district, 347 of 436 open positions in district schools are reserved for Han Chinese, while the remaining 89 positions are reserved for Uyghurs, according to a roster of open positions. (See an announcement on the job openings posted May 8 on the Shayar county government Web site to download the roster of job openings.) In addition to the restrictions based on ethnicity, candidates must not believe in a religion or participate in religious activities, according to the May 8 announcement. In the Bayangol Mongol Autonomous Prefecture within the XUAR, 413 of almost 500 jobs in local schools are reserved exclusively for Han Chinese, according to a list of open positions. (See a May 4 brochure on the Southern Xinjiang Personnel Net to download the roster.) In addition, 37 positions are specified as unrestricted by ethnicity and thus are open to applicants of all ethnic groups including Han, while 26 positions are reserved for Uyghurs and 10 exclusively for Mongols. In addition, 5 posts are open either for Han or Mongol candidates.

Available information on the job recruitment in Aqsu and Bayangol indicates that the ethnicity-based categories are not proxies for language skills, as the positions contain separate stipulations regarding language capability, in addition to ethnicity-based restrictions. (XUAR schools traditionally have offered separate tracks of schooling in Mandarin and in ethnic minority languages, though such tracking has diminished with the implementation of Mandarin-centered "bilingual" education.) According to the recruiting announcement from Aqsu district, ethnic minority candidates must meet a minimum requirement on a national Mandarin Chinese exam. In addition, 56 of the 89 positions for Uyghurs are reserved for Uyghurs who received their schooling in Mandarin-language schools (minkaohan students), according to the roster of open positions in Aqsu. The announcement on job recruitment in the Bayangol Mongol Autonomous Prefecture specifies that ethnic minorities whose native language (mother tongue, or muyu) is Mandarin Chinese may apply for positions reserved for Han Chinese, thereby appearing to exclude ethnic minority candidates who are fluent in Mandarin (such as minkaohan students who learned Mandarin in school), but do not speak it as their native language.

Graduates Face High Unemployment Rates

The barriers to employment for ethnic minority job candidates come during a period of high unemployment in the XUAR. XUAR authorities have pledged to boost employment and to focus on increasing job prospects for ethnic minorities, but the evidence of ongoing discriminatory practices, along with limited information on implementation of policies to promote employment of ethnic minorities, call such a stated focus into question.

According to a March 2 article from the XUAR Ethnic Affairs Commission (via the State Ethnic Affairs Commission) and March 10 China Daily report, the government has pledged to sustain an employment rate of over 70 percent for recent XUAR college graduates through measures including programs that send medical and educational workers to rural areas and through the establishment of job training bases. The rural jobs and training bases will focus on hiring and training ethnic minorities, according to the reports. Since making the pledge, authorities have reported on efforts to create new jobs for college graduates, though some information has had limited or no information on increasing job prospects for ethnic minorities. An April 16 article from Xinhua Xinjiang reported that the region has established over 7,000 spots for university graduates in the job training bases. The article did not include information on efforts to encourage training of ethnic minority graduates. A May 18 article from Xinhua Xinjiang noted that as of the end of April, only 22.1 percent of college graduates in the XUAR had signed employment contracts, down 1.49 percent from the previous year. The article reported that a government official outlined steps to spur employment, including through job recruitment for positions in the government and XPCC. (The government has also filled XPCC positions with people from outside the XUAR. See information on efforts to recruit approximately 4,400 college graduates from Gansu province for XPCC jobs, as reported in an April 10 China Ethnicities News report, via the State Ethnic Affairs Commission. The percentage of college graduates who signed employment contracts in the XUAR compares with an unofficial estimated nationwide figure for college graduates of 33 percent as of March 2009, according to an April 3 report posted on the Xinyang, Henan province, Personnel Bureau Web site.) At the same time it reported on job opportunities in the XPCC, shown by the CECC to exclude most ethnic minority candidates, the May 18 article said the government would focus employment assistance work on giving priority to hiring and providing benefits to ethnic minority graduates and graduates with difficulties finding employment. An April 15 government notice, posted May 22 on Tianshan Net, provided information on a program to send graduates to work in rural areas, but neither the notice nor accompanying materials provided information on promoting the hiring of ethnic minorities. Information on civil servant hiring in the XUAR has given some information on ethnicity-based restrictions and efforts to promote the hiring of ethnic minorities. Of 6,558 open civil servant positions in the XUAR government, the government has both left "the majority of positions unrestricted by ethnicity," thereby open to candidates of all ethnic groups including Han, and has "reserved a set amount of positions" for ethnic minorities, according to a May 12 report from the Xinjiang Personnel Department.

The continuation of government-sponsored discriminatory job recruitment practices in the XUAR accompanies broader policies in the region that also violate the rights of ethnic minority citizens. For more information on conditions in the XUAR, see Section IV--Xinjiang in the CECC 2008 Annual Report.