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Full Text: Human Rights in Xinjiang - Development and Progress
June 02,2017   By:Xinhua
III. Economic Rights
 
Over the years, Xinjiang has maintained a constant focus on economic development. It thereby strives to improve standards of living, benefit the local economy, and encourage unity. It ensures that all the people share the fruits of development, and effectively protects the various economic rights of citizens. Public well-being has improved.
 
The right to development has been promoted. Prior to the founding of the PRC, most of the farmland in Xinjiang was owned by serf owners and landlords, and most livestock, water sources and pasturelands were controlled by the nobility and tribal chiefs. Peasants and herdsmen, accounting for 93 percent of the local total population, did not even possess a basic livelihood and the means to work. At the time, Xinjiang's production capability was extremely low, as agriculture, mainly based on kantumanhoes and ox-drawn plows, was wholly outdated. It had no industry, and could not even produce basic industrial items like steel nails and matches. It lacked the basic conditions for development. Since the founding of the PRC, Xinjiang has improved its preconditions for development, and gradually set up a modern agricultural system and a comprehensive manufacturing industry. The autonomous region's society and economy have been transformed. Since the launch of China's reform and opening-up drive in 1978, Xinjiang's GDP has soared from RMB3.9 billion to RMB961.7 billion in 2016. Its per-capita GDP has grown from RMB313 to RMB40,427 in the same period. The per-capita disposable income of urban residents has risen from RMB319 to RMB28,463 and that of rural residents from RMB119 to RMB10,183.
 
A better quality of life has been guaranteed. Great improvements have been seen in the living conditions of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Farmers and herdsmen living in high mountainous, and cold or remote areas have gradually been provided access to power, tap water and modern transport facilities. The Engel coefficient of urban households decreased from 57.3 percent in 1980 to 29.1 percent in 2016; that of rural households from 60 percent to 31.7 percent. The autonomous region has directed a considerable effort to infrastructure construction in tap water, power and gas. By the end of 2016, the eight million rural population was guaranteed access to safe drinking water, and 72.5 percent of rural households had access to tap water. A series of programs were in place, involving rural safe housing subsidy, nomadic settlement subsidy, and urban low-income housing. The per-capita living space of urban residents rose from 3.5 sq m in 1978 to more than 31.1 sq m in 2016, while that of rural residents increased from 9.46 sq m in 1994 to more than 25.7 sq m in 2016. Transport has also been improved and the people now have access to convenient and rapid traffic facilities. From 1978 to 2016, the kilometrage of roads open to powered vehicles increased from 23,800 km to 182,100 km, and rail kilometrage grew from 1,435 km to 5,868 km. Expressways and high-speed railways developed from scratch, reaching 4,395 km and 717 km, respectively. About 97 percent of administrative villages now have access to metalled roads, and 96 percent have access to bus services. There are 18 civil airports in Xinjiang.