Xinjiang Announces 2004 Reduction in Provincial Economic Disparities

February 18, 2005

The Xinjiang Statistical Bureau recently announced that the economic disparities between northern and southern Xinjiang decreased in 2004. According to the 2002 Xinjiang Statistical Yearbook, more than 95 percent of southern Xinjiang’s population is non-Han and the average per capita income is half the provincial average. Northern Xinjiang has a larger concentration of Han Chinese (73 percent of Urumqi’s population is Han, for example) and is Xinjiang’s industrial base. The industrial growth rate in southern Xinjiang from January to September 2004 was the highest in the region’s history, the announcement said. Growth rates were particularly high in Kashgar (65.9 percent), Kezhou (54.6 percent), and Hetian (23.5 percent), outpacing northern Xinjiang rates by more than 10 percent. Capital investment was more than 36 percent higher in southern Xinjiang than in the north.

The article does not specify the source of the recent investments, but both Western and Chinese analysts note that the central government has increased its share of investments in Xinjiang since the mid-1990s. One consequence has been increased central government control over the Autonomous Region's economy (for example, see Nicolas Becquelin, “Xinjiang in the Nineties,” China Journal, July 2000). Over the past decade, the central government has provided funds for several infrastructure projects that link southern Xinjiang more closely to northern areas and in turn, with central and eastern China. The Taklamakan Highway was completed in 1995 and a rail link began operation in May 1999 between southern Kashgar and Han-dominated Korla in the north. Before 1995, only a single road linked the southern oases to the north.