|Press Conference on Xinjiang_Safeguard and improve people's livelihood_2020.06.01|
Safeguard and Improve People's Livelihood
Question1: What are the general ideas of ensuring and improving people's livelihood in Xinjiang? What has been done to achieve this? What is the public feedback like?
Answer: Everything matters in livelihood improvement as it appeals to the multitudes. Xinjiang consistently adheres to the principle of people-oriented development ideas, making well-being enhancement of the people of various ethnicities as the starting point and the ultimate goal of our work, allocating 70 % of its public expenditure continuously to a series of projects in sectors of employment, education, healthcare, social security, and government sponsored housing, and eventually promoting people's happiness and social harmony.
Firstly, boosting employment with every means. We are working on improving college graduates employment, transferring surplus labor forces from the urban and rural areas, creating more job opportunities for the disadvantaged groups, establishing more platforms for self-employment and entrepreneurships, and offering technical and skill training and providing public welfare posts for urban and rural households with zero employment members to make sure that every family with eligible labor force has at least one person employed.
Secondly, offering education that meets people's requirements. Solid efforts have been made to develop preschool education, consolidate compulsory education, strengthen high school education, promote vocational education, and steadily improve higher education. Full coverage of nine-year compulsory education system has been realized throughout Xinjiang and 15-year free education in southern Xinjiang to ensure that every school-age child could receive fair and high-quality education.
Third, promoting healthcare that benefits more. Free annual health check-up have been carried out for Xinjiang residents with expended coverage of personal accident insurance and critical illness insurance for urban and rural residents. Concrete measures have been taken to strengthen prophylactic and treatment for contagious and endemic diseases. Grassroots-level health care service system has been enhanced and its service improved to resolve the difficulties the grass roots people encountered in getting easy and affordable access to medical service.
Fourth, enhancing social security system for all. Comprehensive social security system has been established to provide better social insurances services, including urban and rural subsistence allowance, endowment insurance, medical insurance, employment injury insurance and social relief, and to cover more of its residents. Minimum living allowance standard for the urban and rural areas has been increasing constantly: 2.68 billion yuan has been allocated since the beginning of this year to ensure the basic living of 1.81 million people under minimum living allowance protection, meaning that all those in need are included into the social insurance system
Fifth, implementing government-sponsored housing projects. Public housing projects have been carried out for villagers and low income urban residents, finishing the renovation of shabby and dilapidated houses for rural poverty stricken population. Heating supply source has been shifted from coal to electricity with phase I project completed in four prefectures of southern Xinjiang. All villages in the region now have access to paved roads, public transportation, electricity supply and optic fiber broadband connection. Our villages are going through an unprecedented change, which paves the way to the people of all ethnic groups to lead a modern civilized life.
We have made tremendous achievements in ensuring and improving people's livelihood in Xinjiang, which strengthened people's sense of gain, happiness and security, and they are working and living in peace and contentment, harmony and prosperity with promising future. People of all ethnic groups are saying that the government is helping them out with difficulties that are of the most concerns to them. Now people have jobs to do, money to earn and prospects for future with good housing and happy life. Some people express that "we have new houses to live in; our kids can receive good education; we have clean water to drink; we have access to the recreation facilities and medical service". It is not merely a dream to achieve a well-off life." And some people say "A series of favorable policies granted by government benefit us a lot. The best is yet to come. We are looking forward to the future with confidence and hope."
Q2:What specific measures Xinjiang has taken to promote employment especially that of the ethnic minorities in Southern Xinjiang? Some foreign media reported that there has been mass forced labor in Xinjiang. What is your comment on that?
Answer: Employment is the top priority that concerns every household. Xinjiang has always attached great importance to promoting employment as the first and foremost project that is of immediate significance to people's livelihood, winning people's hearts and maintaining social stability. Great efforts have been made to institute proactive employment policies to create quality jobs and realized full employment for people of all ethnic groups. In these efforts, Xinjiang, by strictly following the laws and regulations, insists on the principle of "workers finding their own jobs, employment through market regulation and employment encouraged and promoted by the government".
Firstly, fully mobilize the laborers' initiative and enthusiasm with improved labor skills and completely unleashed their potentials to find jobs or start business themselves for stable employment. In recent couple years, ethnic people, particularly those from southern Xinjiang have walked out of their farming villages and joined the factories and companies for employment, and the idea of getting better life through self-employment has been widely welcomed. For instance, Abulkem Kadir, a villager from Wuqia Township, Yingjisha County of Kashi Prefecture, left his hometown for a job in Qingdao City of East China's Shandong Province in 2010, and every time he returned home during holidays, his fellow villagers will consult him about work and life in inland China and his employment experiences. In another case, Pashiagul Kerem, a grazing girl from improvised Bortukoy Township, Wuqa County of Kizilesu Kirkiz Autonomous Prefecture, shook off poverty after finding a job in an enterprise in Guangdong Province with obvious increased earnings. Inspired by her experience, more than 200 fellow villagers followed her suit and got employed in other places.
Secondly, give full play of the fundamental role of human resource markets in promoting employment to guide the reasonable movement of labors based on demand and supply information shared in the markets. Both the employers and employees have their freedom to choose and decide and the demand-supply dynamics are adjusted with the employment conditions. At present, labors who want to find jobs will go to the local human resources market for idea jobs and the companies will accordingly solve their difficulties of short of hands at the markets. For example, 38,600 workers had find their jobs through 621 job fairs have been held in the Human Resources Market of Aksu Prefecture with participation of 4953 employers since 2014.
Thirdly, government plays important role in advocating of the employment priority strategy. Labor-intensive industries, medium and small size businesses, modern service industries have been encouraged to increase the job opportunities and expand urban and rural employment size. Positive employment policies have been adopted to encourage employers to absorb more employment, such as tax preferences, social insurances subsides and entrepreneurship loan guarantees; Public employment services and management of human resources markets have been strengthened to ensure equal participation of labors with various backgrounds; Skills training programs have been provided specially to those who have difficulties in finding jobs, such as surplus labors in rural areas, laid-off workers and the disabled to improve their abilities of self-employment; Such as in Kashi Prefecture, companies in textile and garments and costumes making, agriculture by-products processing, electronic assembling have been introduced and specially supported in industrial parks with factories established in rural areas. By the end of 2019, 1406 industrial companies have been settled in various industrial parks across the region with new employment of 84,000 workers. In Bayangol Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, 10 million yuan special funds has been granted to 2870 entrepreneurs, 11.91 million yuan guaranteed loans for 260 entrepreneurs. And the Hotan Prefecture has gradually enhanced its efforts in establishing public employment service platform with public human resources markets set up in seven counties and one city under its jurisdiction and labor security offices in townships and city communities, and special labor security staff in every village to make sure the full coverage of employment service network. In 2019, the employment service agencies at all levels in Hotan have provided service for more than 300,000 people in policy publicity, employment consultation, unemployment and recruitment information registration, and employment assistance, etc., and have released 20,000 more information of job opportunities through various platforms.
It can be concluded that the process of realizing stable employment is the two-way choice process between the labors' will and employers' demand. All the government could do is to create a sound labor and employment environment which could serve as the precondition for people of all ethnic groups to find satisfied jobs with stable incomes for a better life. Since 2014, the annual new increased urban employment reached 471,120 more people, and transferred employment of rural surplus labor forces reached 2.767 million people times. More and more worked from southern Xinjiang have changed, from the situation in which they were caught by employment difficulties because of lack of labor skills and opportunities, to actively participate in skills training, go out and find jobs in other parts of China and improve their lives with their own working hands, and as a result, the whole rural areas in southern Xinjiang has been transformed.
As for the so called "mass forced labor in Xinjiang", we have pointed out repeatedly in several occasions and that this was mere the fabricated accusation made up by some anti-China agencies and its crew in the United States and the west, which were totally against the facts. As cited in the provision of Forced Labor Convention issued by UN International Labor Organization, forced labor by its definition, is any work or service which people are forced to do against their will, under threat of punishment. The ethnic minorities workers from Xinjiang is a component of the mass workers of China with all their rights protected by law with full freedom to choose what kind of job they would like to do and in which place they want to go. Their personal freedom is fully guaranteed, so as their ethnic customs and folkways, religious believes, spoken and written languages. When got employed, their employers will provide them with sound working and living conditions as prescribed by law to ensure they work in safety, live in comfort and their families hold no worry. For those work in other parts of China, the employees from Xinjiang and their families are all content with their salaries and treatments. How does this so-called forced labor come from?
Question 3: What are the preferential policies in education sectors Xinjiang has granted to ensure that every child has access to equal education with higher quality? Recently, American think tank Rand Company issued a report saying that "Children of detained Xinjiang Muslims were held in preschool facilities constructed in large-scale". How would you respond to that?
Answer: Xinjiang has always attached great importance in education, always insists that education should be given priority in its overall development with ever-increased input to ensure that every child in Xinjiang has the access to enjoy equal and qualified education. By the end of 2019, there are 6.414 million of students enrolled in all kinds of educational institutions; among them 4.791 million are ethnic minorities. Preschool gross enrollment rate was 97.51% in the region, and net enrollment for primary school and junior middle school was 99.97% and 99.78% respectively, and gross enrollment for high school was 98.82%. Achievements of education progress and reform have brought benefits to more people with more equality, and overall education quality in Xinjiang has been remarkably improved with rapid development in various education sectors in different levels.
Firstly, preschool education has been developed with solid measures. Free three years of preschool education has been carried out to cover all places with four prefectures in southern Xinjiang as focus.In recent years, governments at various levels of Xinjiang have invested 16.3 billion yuan in building, renovating or expanding 4,408 rural kindergartens, realized full coverage of free preschool education in rural areas, kids aged four to six have all went to kindergartens nearby their homes where they could also enjoy free lunch, deserts and fruits every day.
Secondly, compulsory education has been reinforced. Standardized compulsory education has been comprehensively promoted in all schools and balanced education in different areas. Presently, the balanced compulsory systems in 69 counties, cities and districts have passed national-standard acceptance after on-site assessment and recognition, a coverage of 70.4% of all schools across the region; and 87 counties, cities and districts have passed the check and acceptance for regional-standard compulsory education schools construction and country-level balanced compulsoryeducation development with coverage of 88.8%, indicating remarkable progress in both school facilitates and teaching quality in Xinjiang. 96% of junior middle school graduates could join high schools to continue their studies which provide diversified and featured development with improved school facilities. As long as the teenagers want to learn, there will be suitableschools for them to go and get educated.
Thirdly, the boarding schools have been improved. In implementing the Law on Compulsory Education, Xinjiang has taken boarding school construction as an important content of the compulsory education standardization and balanced development, and addressed effectively the difficulties the families in remote farming and grazing areas with the coordination of both nearby admission and concentrated schools.
Fourthly, investment in education has been increased. Education has always been a key sector spared with prioritized guarantee in financial expenditure. In 2019, average public budget education spending in Xinjiang was 86.307 billion yuan, with an increase around 4.77 billion yuan in a rate of 5.85%. More investments went to severely poverty-stricken areas, and 80% of education poverty alleviation special funds have been granted to four prefectures in southern Xinjiang. A multilevel scholarship and aid system have been established to support students in difficulties, including scholarships, stipends, loans, compensated part-time jobs, allowances and exemptions. Since 2017, 29.025 billion yuan has been allocated to support over 23.9431million students from various ethnic groups. All students from poor families are covered by the system, leaving no one being deprived of education.
Fifthly, teaching staff have been given special attentions. In rural areas in southern and northern Xinjiang, head of kindergartens, primary and middle schools have the opportunities to learn from each other through exchange programs, and qualified teachers are assigned to remote and backward townships and villages from counties to further narrow down the gaps been southern and northern Xinjiang, urban and rural areas. Recruitment for new teachers have been carried out throughout the country to invite new bloods joining the teaching teams in Xinjiang plus teaching forces assigned through assistance-Xinjiang programs. Preferential policies to ensure the treatment of teachers have been further implemented such as living subsides, professional ranks and titles evaluation and temporary apartments. And teaching capabilities training and teachers' ethics promotion have all been stressed to improve the overall qualifications of teaching staff in Xinjiang.
The nonsense issued by Rand recently was a total slender to Xinjiang's education undertaking. As a matter of fact, the preschool education, after years of development, has won sincere support among its people of all ethnic groups in that it has met the basic requirements they have for education and safeguard the rights of kids for education. For example, a parent of Qimeng Kindergarten in Hotan City said as follows: "The kindergarten is established just next to the door, it's so convenient for my kids to go with just a less than five minutes walk. My kid eats well here, and teachers are so caring. When my kid is happy, I have nothing to worry." And a parent commented on Dolang Xincun Kindergarten in Aksu city where her kid goes to that "This kindergarten is just beautiful with all those good facilities, classrooms, activity rooms, bedrooms, toilets and closet." And in Argule Village kindergarten, Moyu County, Hotan Prefecture, a parent said: "It's so good that my kid could go to the kindergarten where the kids learn singing and dancing, telling stories and forming good habits of health life. Seeing the changes of my kid, I'm really overwhelmed!" Many foreign visitors had visited the Hexie Xincun Kindergarten in Hotan County of southern Xinjiang's Hotan Prefecture, they expressed in surprise that they did not expect a rural kindergarten in Xinjiang could be so well-equipped and applauded that Xinjiang government has done a great thing for all ethnic groups, as the children grow up so happily here. Let me share with you a short video took at the kindergarten.
Question 4:Access to better medical and health services is the top livelihood concern that people have. What measures have been taken to ensure the health of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang?
Answers: People's health is always taken as the top priority in Xinjiang. With the constantly strengthened system of medical and health services construction, the capabilities of health services in Xinjiang have been greatly improved, providing people with benefits in health and well-being through more wider, fairer and higher level of medical service.
Firstly, strengthening capabilities in medical and health services. A systematic urban and rural services network has been formed in Xinjiang. Infrastructure in medical and health organizations has been notably improved. The scale of professional medical workers has been constantly enlarged. By the end of 2019, there were 158,700 professional medical workers and 9845 public health institutions, of which 42 were Grade Ⅲ hospitals and 168 were Grade Ⅱ. On average, for every thousand people there were 6.94 hospital beds. The levels of medical management, medical care quality and technology have enhanced significantly in Xinjiang. A batch of national and regional key clinical specialties departments were built, meanwhile, many specialized hospitals were constructed with qualified diagnosis and treatment levels. A three-tier remote medical care system that covers all counties, prefectures and the region has formed to ensure that people of all ethnic groups benefit from qualified medical resources.
Secondly, providing free annual health check for all. Since 2016, the national health check project was carried out in Xinjiang to make people of all ethnic groups enjoy the benefits of medical and health services. All urban and rural residents are entitled to free health check once a year. Xinjiang had established altogether 4839 health check centers with 123,000 deployed medical workers. With an investment of 53.24 billion yuan to cover full health check for 70.81 million person times since 2016, the idea of check-up for prevention has been wildly accepted by people to realize "early discovery, early diagnosis and early treatment" for illnesses.
Thirdly, effective control of endemic and epidemic diseases. The control and prevention of tuberculosis has been incorporated into essential public health service in Xinjiang with tuberculosis screening has been put on the lists of annual free health check. The implementation of special medical insurance policy had made it possible to cure141, 000 cases successfully since the full-scaled treatment began. Xinjiang has witnessed no case of human plague for consecutive 24 years, as well as zero case of polio. HBV infection rate of children under 5 had been controlled to less than 1%, which fulfilled the goal of WTO in advance. IDD had been eradicated in 96 counties, cities and districts in Xinjiang. Overall hygiene situation in urban and rural areas have been improved along with the toilet renovationprogram achieved with initial success. The appearances of villages have been changed tremendously.
Fourthly, improving overall public health service. The average financial input for public health service per person has increased progressively to 69 yuan in 2019 from that of 35 yuan in 2014. There are 12 kinds of national basic public health service provided to citizens throughout their lives free of charge. The level of public health service equalization has been improved constantly. With solid infrastructure and improved medical and health service capabilities, 899 township hospitals and 8614 village clinics in rural areas have all reached national standards. The coverage of basic medical insurance, serious illness insurance and personal accident insurance has reached 100%. Drug price addition to all the public hospitals has been abolished, preferential policies have been made to include 32 types of serious diseases and chronic diseases into graded diagnosis system so that hospitals at different levels could prescribe essential medicines with full supply and in priority to lessen the burden of patients' health costs.
Fifthly, carrying out in-depth health poverty alleviation projects. Full insurance coverage program has been carried out including basic medical insurance, serious illness insurance and medical assistance allowances to ensure the steady improvement of social insurance system in Xinjiang. A special assistance project for poverty stricken population with serious illness has been launched with 37 types of serious illness covered by special allowance, and the treatment rate for registered impoverished households with serious illnesses has been raised to 99.3%. Service model of "treatment before payment" and "one-stop payment settlement" has been introduced to public hospitals in prefectures and cities for in patients from rural areas. Pair-up assistance system has been established between 63 Grade III hospitals in and out of Xinjiang and 56 hospitals in poverty stricken counties to improve the latter's medical and health service capabilities and management levels to ensure that the impoverished population could get proper treatment from professional medical workers and under institutional protection.
In recent years, Xinjiang has taken series of solid measures on health welfare, paving a road of "healthy livelihood" for people. People of all ethnic groups show their enthusiasm of taking national health check and rushing to the health check centers. If the disease was detected in the first time, then it can be cured before too late less medical expense. Now people don't have to worry about unaffordable costs when they get sick.
When it's more convenient to see doctors with lower medical expense, people could benefit from high leveled health service with their health guaranteed.
Question 5: 2020 is the final year for the national poverty alleviation campaign. It is understood that Kashi, Hotan, Aksu and Kizlsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture in southern Xinjiang are severely impoverished areas facing arduous task to get out of poverty. How would Xinjiang realize its task of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects along with the whole nation?
Kashi, Hotan, Aksu and Kizlesu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture are most impoverished areas in southern Xinjiang. Lifting all rural and impoverished counties out of poverty and eliminating absolute poverty in these areas are one of your top priorities. Xinjiang has been firmly implementing president Xi Jinping's important discourses on poverty alleviation and the Central Committee's decisions and policies. By the end of 2019, there are 2.9232 million people under poverty from 737,600 households in 3107 poverty-stricken villages of22 national improvised counties in Xinjiang has been lifted out of poverty with the poverty headcount ration reduced from to 19.4% in 2013 to 1.24. Among them, 2.6774 million people from 656,100 households, 3242 villages and 26 counties are in the four prefectures of southern Xinjiang, where the poverty headcount ratio has reduced from 29.1% in 2013 to 2.21% in 2019.
2020 is the final year for the national campaign against poverty, a crucial time for us to eliminate absolute poverty and build a moderately prosperous society. Xinjiang has been firmly implementing the decisions and deployments made by the CPC Central Committee in lifting all rural impoverished counties out of poverty, making arduous efforts to help the rest 165,800 people from 42,100 households, 559 villages and 10 counties to get rid of poverty with no new poverty happens and no returning back to poverty, and building a moderately prosperous society at the same pace with the other parts of China. We will focus on works in following aspects:
Firstly, carrying out concentrated institute supervision down through all administrative levels. Officials at provincial level are sent to county and prefectural levels to supervise and guide poverty alleviation work, accordingly officials at county and prefectural levels stationed to villages, and carders of county government departments and townships, first secretaries of poverty-stricken villages, members of working groups at villages, poverty alleviation cadres assigned to be responsible for every registered poor household. Poverty alleviation plan varies from village to village and family to family based on actual situation, and proceeded ahead right on schedule. All plans are under supervision for their implementation with variation corrected, results guaranteed and quality controlled. Remaining steadfast to the goals and committed to crack the hardest nuts, we will surely lift all the remaining impoverished people and counties out of poverty.
Second is to fully implement the precise poverty alleviation measures. We will adhere to the "six-point precisions" and come up with locality-specific and family and person specific poverty relief plans. And we will earnestly press ahead with the preferential policies towards different groups of targeted people through local industrial development, transferred employment assistance, farming land redistribution and granting border ranger allowances, eco-compensation, education and social security subsides, etc. We will step up the role of industrial development and employment in poverty alleviation, precedence will be extended to impoverished people in employment and make sure them all be employed, with able-bodied ones being in work and with stable income. At the same time, we will see to it that impoverished people who have been out of poverty make no less income and don't return to poverty.
Third is to strengthen assistance mechanism. Mechanism of dynamic monitoring and assistance will be improved and implemented to prevent the cases of falling back to poverty with index of incomes, supply of feeding and clothing, access to education, housing and medical care taken into consideration so that the problems could be addressed with more precision, and targeted assistance provided promptly and repeated and newly emerged poverty could be effectively reduced. And strict standards have been set up for getting rid of poverty, making poverty elimination more effective.
Fourth is to take good use of poverty relief funds. Since 2017, the regional authorities have established a poverty alleviation risk fund since 2017, with annual injection of 2 billion yuan and an accumulated amount of 8 billion yuan up to now, to address the possible risks in process of fighting against poverty and cases of falling back to poverty. When necessary, the fund will be used to secure the steady income and job opportunities for poverty-stricken population and guarantee the progress schedule and quality of poverty alleviation cause.
Fifth is to implement assistance policies in an orderly way. The regional CPC party committee is responsible for the overall work of poverty alleviation with party secretaries as the heads in five levels of administrative organs from the region to the village. Unremitting efforts will be taken to make sure that even if the targeted household have been lifted out of poverty according to present standard, related officials will not be exempted from due responsibility of support them, all preferential policies and assistance measures will remain unchanged. All forces working in poverty alleviation endeavors at various levels will be maintained to effectively consolidate and expand the poverty relief outcomes with the paring-up support mechanism maintained for long-term and sustainable development of these areas.
At present, Xinjiang is focusing on the target of lifting all impoverished population out of poverty and eliminating absolute poverty in line with national standards. While overcoming the affects of the Novel Coronavirus, we are working unremittingly to achieve the goal by the end of 2020 and make sure that every ethnic group, every poverty-stricken area, every single person from registered poor household will not be left behind on the road to a moderately prosperous societytogether with the whole country.
Question 6:Currently, many countries around the world are heavily blown by COVID-19, with their society, production and life being seriously affected. How has X coordinated epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development?
Answer: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Xinjiang has always taken coordination between epidemic containment and socio-economic development as a main political task and the paramount work at present. All-out efforts have been made to win "double victory" in both epidemic containment and socio-economic development.
Facing the COVID-19 outbreak that caught us all by surprise, Xinjiang has comprehensively carried out the CPC Central Committee's overall requirement of shoring up confidence, strengthening unity, ensuring science-based control and treatment and imposing targeted measures. We have taken specified measures according to the principle of preventing at the source, applying science-based treatment, containing the spread, ensuring supplies and maintaining social stability, and strengthened our work in early detection, reporting, isolation and treatment of cases. On the one hand, we have resolutely cut off the transmission of the virus from the source, emphasized on curbing the spread of the outbreak both within and into our jurisdiction based on the epidemic prevention and transmission characteristics and outbreak changes, and enhanced source control and management of densely populated areas, especially prevention and control in residential communities. Science-based treatment had been applied to infected cases. The confirmed patients had been treated in dedicated hospitals by medical experts across the region and with all necessary resources. We had integrated medical resources, optimized diagnosis and treatment plans, and made every effort to improve cure rate, reduce fatality rate and ensure scientific and orderly treatment. We have effectively cut off the spread of the outbreak. The whole region has been working as one under unified command and actions. In particular, we have carried out detailed management in epidemic prevention and control as well as scientific prevention measures, highlighted prevention at key areas, and practiced differentiated and precise control, thus effectively curbing the spread of the virus. On the other hand, all-out efforts have been made in ensuring supplies. We have facilitated 47 medical protective appliances manufacturers in resuming or transferring production and expansion, and strengthened the supply of major living necessities, thus ensuring stable supplies of production and living factors across the region. Under the strong leadership of the central authorities, Xinjiang has carried out various epidemic prevention and control measures, and effectively contained the spread of the outbreak in the region within a comparatively short period of time. Up to now, Xinjiang has seen no new confirmed case for more than 100 days. Our comprehensive battle against the outbreak has achieved remarkable result, and Xinjiang is among the earliest in the nationwide in restoring normal production and life order.
While taking strict epidemic prevention and control measures, Xinjiang has focused on stabilizing employment, finance, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment and expectations and ensuring the employment of residents, the basic livelihood of the people, the support for market entities, the securing of food and energy, the stability of the supply chain and industrial chain and the operation at grassroots level. A series of supportive policies have been issued in taxation, finance, investment, consumption, export, foreign trade, project construction, factor supply, social security, employment stabilization, poverty alleviation, etc. Socio-economic development and poverty alleviation have been promoted in a coordinated manner. In the first quarter, Xinjiang's regional GDP registered 305.551 billion yuan, down by only 0.2% year on year but higher than the national average by 6.6 percentage points.
The added value of industrial enterprises above designated size increased by 3.4% year on year in the first four month with an amount of 110.079 billion yuan. The fixed asset investment increased by 19.1 % year on year with an amount of 75.021 billion yuan. First, we have comprehensively promoted enterprises to resume work and production. In accordance with the principle of focusing on key issues, strengthening coordination, giving sector-specific guidance and applying region-specific policies, we have organized enterprise employees to return to work in an orderly manner in different areas at different stages, opened up the traffic arteries, and made every effort to promote the resumption of work and production. 2,118 industrial enterprises above designated size in Xinjiang have all resumed production, with the capacity utilization rate (resumption rate) of coal and textile industries reaching 100%; that of petrochemical industry, 95.6%; that of chemical industry, 89.8%; and that of equipment manufacturing, 75.8%. From January to April, the railway freight volume reached 54.816 million tons, up 20% year on year. China-Europe freight trains starting from Xinjiang have resumed normal operation and made 207 trips since the beginning of this year. Second, we have made solid efforts in promoting major projects construction. The launch and resumption progress of under-construction or new projects in Xinjiang is faster than their original plans. 2,188 continued projects with investment of over 5 million yuan each have comprehensively resumed construction one month in advance, and 77.6% of new projects have started construction, with the accumulated investment reaching 16.687 billion yuan, increasing by 2.106 billion yuan year on year, kicking off a good start of project construction. Third, we have made all-round endeavors in agricultural production without missing the farming season. Overall plans and coordinated effort has been made in spring management and planting, quality and efficiency improvement of forestry and fruit farming, transformation and upgrading of animal husbandry, agricultural science and technology services, farming materials production, circulation and supply, agricultural infrastructure construction, disaster prevention and mitigation, etc. We have ensured accountability for food supply, and maintained overall stable supply of grain, vegetables, livestock products and other main agricultural and sideline products. In the first quarter, the planting areas of crops in the region increased by 23.18% year on year, and that of wheat has completed 13.2 million mu (880,000 ha.), 97.35% of the target task. The spring agricultural production and life order has restored in an all-round way, better than expected, so we have the foundation and confidence for a bumper agricultural harvest. Fourth, we have vigorously promoted operation resumption of businesses and markets. We have issued Xinjiang's Guidelines on Epidemic Prevention and Control Measures for the Reopening of Tourist Attractions, and supported comprehensive resumption of work and operation of accommodation, catering, commerce, logistics, culture and tourism sectors. The support through fiscal and tax policies has been increased to help medium, small and micro enterprises and individual businesses return to work and tide them over, so as to enhance their confidence and motivation for future development. As of April 25, 99.38% of medium, small and micro enterprises and 88.01% of individual businesses have returned to work. Through tax abatement, waiver, deferral and refund, compensation and clearing up defaults, we have reduced their burdens by 17.45 billion yuan. Fifth, we have been resolute in winning the battle of poverty alleviation. Poverty alleviation projects have been carried out in a down-to-earth manner, with specific plans for each impoverished village and household. Industry-based and employment-based poverty alleviation has been strengthened to prioritize assistance to the needy people by offering them jobs. Consumption-driven alleviation has been carried out to facilitate access of agricultural and livestock products from poverty-stricken areas into farm produce markets, large supermarkets, community supply shops and convenience stores. Six, we have attached great importance to ensuring the people's livelihood. All-out effort has been made in ensuring employment. 179,800 new jobs have been created in urban areas. 18,929 of those with difficulties in finding jobs have secured employment. 16,400 people have started their own businesses, which have offered jobs to 28,763 people. We have spared no effort in ensuring the people's basic livelihood, 84.34 million yuan of living subsidies for the especially poor, the orphans and other disadvantaged groups. We have timely launched the linkage mechanism between social assistance and security standards and price rise, disbursing 41.98 million yuan of subsidies, benefiting all eligible groups with a total number of 3.799 million people. We have also gone all out in serving the people by improving the mobile medical service mechanism, setting up 1,368 mobile medical teams and directly serving more than 720,000 patients at their homes, winning sincere praise from all ethnic groups.
Q7:Recently, the overseas "East Turkistan" forces vigorously echoed some American politicians' opinions such as "the virus origins from China" and "holds China accountable and claims compensation from China," and asserted that "Xinjiang eliminates Muslims by means of COVID-19" and "VETC faces the risk of large-scale outbreak." What's your response to that?
Recently, the overseas "Eastern Turkistan" forces collude with some American and Western anti-China politicians to politicize the pandemic and stigmatize China in the guise of COVID-19. They groundlessly accuse China of being the origin of the virus, deliberately attack our international cooperation in fighting the pandemic, and incite all parties to "hold China accountable for the pandemic" to provoke anti-China sentiment and tarnish international image of China under the banner of COVID-19. Despicable behaviors of the "Eastern Turkistan" forces proved nothing but their flattering mentality and vicious intention acting as cat's-paw of the US-led Western anti-China forces.
The Coronavirus is a common enemy to all mankind, which respects no border and could possibly appear anywhere. China, too, has been hit by the virus like other countries. In the face of COVID-19, in accordance with a general requirement that "the whole nation is united to take science-based and targeted measures and fight the epidemic with confidence," Xinjiang makes utmost efforts to win the battle of the epidemic prevention and control with improved and intensified preventive measures, so as to ensure early detection, reporting, quarantine and treatment of cases, insists on "treating the infected in dedicated facilities by senior medical professionals from all over the country and with all necessary resources," and makes every endeavor to ensure the supplies of prevention and control materials fully meeting the living materials of 25 million people of all ethnic groups, to guarantee their safety, health and normal life. Through joint efforts made by the Xinjiang people of all ethnic groups, the pandemic situation in Xinjiang has been effectively curbed with no confirmed cases at all in Kashi prefecture and Hotan prefecture specially, as well as assembly occupancies such as kindergartens, schools, nursing homes, welfare houses, prisons and so on.
Due to precise and effective measures taken Xinjiang, the spread of Coronavirus has been put under control in relatively short period. The confirmed cases in Xinjiang registered 76, and no new case has been reported for more than 100 consecutive days. The social and economic life in Xinjiang has gradually resumed to the right track, actually much earlier than rest of the country.
It has been formally announced by Mr. Shohrat Zakir, Governor of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at a news release on December 9, 2019, that all trainees had all left the centers after completion of their courses of learning standard spoken and written Chinese, knowledge of law and regulation and occupational skills, secured stable employment with the help of the government and started a life of happy with increasingly improved quality. Since all the trainees have left the centers, how come there are risks of large scale of infection?
The overseas "Eastern Turkistan" forces ignore the fact, yet they spread lies of "Xinjiang eliminating Muslims by means of COVID-19," "VETC facing the risk of large-scale outbreak," and vigorously echo some American and Western politicians' opinions that "hold China accountable", which is total ridiculous.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in countries and regions across the world, China has actively participated in international anti-pandemic cooperation, while striving to win its own war against the virus. Under the unified arrangement by the central authorities of China, local governments, enterprises and non-governmental organizations have donated medical supplies to many countries, regions and international organizations. Up to now, Xinjiang has donated 2.5 million more surgical masks, 11,000 odd N95 respirators, more than 30 thousands protective suits, 24 thousands latex gloves, 4 thousands more isolation gowns, 3 thousands more protective goggles, and infrared forehead thermometers respectively, over 20, 000 test kits, 25 ventilators, 100 computers and other medical apparatuses to over 30 countries including Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, South Korea, Malaysia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Jordan, Belarus, Tajikistan and so on, and sent medical teams to Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to support them in defeating the virus. Many countries and organizations have thanked China's support in their anti-pandemic efforts and expressed willingness to continue to strengthen cooperation in the fight against the virus with us.
The "Eastern Turkistan" forces have smeared our efforts in global anti-pandemic cooperation, slandered our firm support in the battle against pandemic for the international community, and undermined international cooperation in fighting COVID-19. What are they up to? We believe their ugly behaviors and malicious intentions will be known and rejected by the international community consequentially.
Q8: Recently, "Eastern Turkistan" forces overseas allege "Xinjiang bans Muslims from Ramadan fasting", and the website of World Uyghur Congress announced its plan to post serial video clips alleging" Uygurs are subject to persecution in Ramadan." What do you comment?
Answer: The fasting ban allegations by "Eastern Turkistan" forces abroad are sheer nonsense. Every Ramadan, they habitually copy and spread such rumors that have been revealed fake, recklessly attacking Xinjiang with no moral constraint. The so-called "persecution videos of Uygurs in the month of fasting" in the pipeline are nothing but a patchwork of fakeries, intending to sow discord among our ethnic groups, disrupt the ethnic relationship, and incite ethnic antagonism. The intentions they harbor are extremely vicious.
Xinjiang fully implements the policy of freedom of religious belief. Religious believers and non-believers enjoy equal rights, politically, economically, culturally and in social life. To believe in or not believe in a religion is totally every citizen's independent choice. Across Xinjiang, no citizen is discriminated and mistreated for believing in or not believing in a religion. Believers' legal religious activities either performed at religious venues or at home according to habitual practice, such as prayers, fasting, and religious festivities, are managed by religious groups or believers themselves and protected by law, allowing no interference by any organization or individual.
Indisputably, Xinjiang has enjoyed religious harmony and religious activities in the fasting month. Xinjiang has never put a ban on Muslims from Ramadan fasting, which is decided by each individual instead. Muslims' legal religious activities including fasting and praying are fully respected.
Q9: It is reported that some foreign media claim that "Xinjiang government framed former director general of Xinjiang Forestry Department Memet Abdula as a two-faced man and sentenced him to a prison term." It is true? And could you brief us about it?
Answer: Recently, former director general of Xinjiang Forestry Department Memet Abdula's daughter complained to the Voice of America that her father was mischarged as a "two-faced person" and put in prison. Her accusation was completely fabricated, which was to mislead international opinion, solicit support for her criminal father and attack China's policies on Xinjiang by misleading public opinion.
In April 2017, the Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC (Communist Party of China) Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee filed a case against Memet Abdula on suspicion of taking bribes. The investigation found that, during his tenure as chief of the department, he violated organizational discipline to trade power for money in personnel selection and appointment; broke the Party's rules on clean governance for illegal acceptance of money and gifts and engaging in profitable activities; was suspected of crimes involving bribery and abuse of power to seek profits for others. According to the CPC Regulation on Disciplinary Punishment and the Regulation on the Disciplinary Actions against Civil Servants of Administrative Organs and other relevant regulations, his case was transferred to the judicial authorities for further investigation.
The court's investigation, through the first and second trials, found that Memet Abudla used his position to seek benefits for others and by raising logging quotas, and solicited and accepted money and properties many times from others that are of enormous value. His behaviors had constituted crime of bribery. The people's court imposed a criminal sentence on him based on clear facts and solid evidence in accordance with the provisions of Chinese laws and regulations. His daughter's so-called "he was framed" allegation was just confusing truth and falsehood.
Corruption is a tumor to social development and is detested by people. Anyone who violates, regardless of his or her ethnicity, the law and discipline will surely be brought to justice.