China’s Xi calls for building “great wall of iron” for Xinjiang’s stability, ethnic unity

MAMOSA Report — Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday that a “great wall of iron” to safeguard national unity, ethnic solidarity and social stability should be built in China’s northwest Muslim-majority Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks during a panel discussion with national lawmakers from Xinjiang at the ongoing annual session of the National People’s Congress.

Xi called for safeguarding ethnic unity, and reinforcing solidarity between the military and the government, soldiers and civilians, police and the people, as well as between the production and construction corps and local communities.

Xinjiang is an important “security barrier” in northwest China which holds a special strategic position and faces special issues, Xi said, adding that governing the region well is of great significance.

He stressed that maintaining stability in Xinjiang is a political responsibility, and that stability-related issues must be handled in a thorough, timely and proper manner.

He called for efforts to make long-term strategies, strengthen the foundation, and achieve lasting peace and stability in Xinjiang.

According to several reports, China is channeling a lot of time and resources into this remote corner to keep the region running smoothly.

Xiniang is China’s gateway to its One Belt One Road’s southern corridor which passes through Pakistan and dubbed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The autonomous region is also a key hub in China’s new silk route connecting its eastern cities with Central Asia and Europe via thousands of kilometers of all-weather roads and rails network.

Very little of Xinjiang is habitable, yet it is the largest of China’s administrative regions. The Uighur Muslims used to be the majority population in Xinjiang, and they are more closely aligned to Central Asia than China. Originally part of the Turkic region that included Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Takistan, the Uighurs are traditionally a nomadic group of people. Their plight is similar to the Tibetans—there is resentment against Chinese rule because the Uighurs say their culture and religion is oppressed by Beijing.

According to several reports, China will spend more than 29 billion U.S. dollars in the region building or improving roads this year, according to local authorities quoted by Chinese newspapers.

Constructions of the roads, with a total planned length of 82,300 km, will start in 2017 including nearly 7,300 km of expressways and 41,800 km of rural roads.

In total, China plans to spend in Xinjiang over US$146 billion in transport infrastructure, including over US$69 billion in expressways, from 2016 to 2020.

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