China is boosting its textile and garment industry in a bid to blanket unrest in the country’s vast northwestern Xinjiang region, where hundreds have died in violence in recent years during clashes between indigenous Uighurs (a Muslim minority group) and Han Chinese.
Experts say job discrimination, particularly in the region’s booming gas and oil industry, has fueled discontent that’s led to fighting.
So in an effort to increase local employment and maintain social order and stability, China’s state council on Thursday issued a guideline to support the development of the textile and clothing industry.
Specifically, the country plans to turn Xinjiang into a major textile hub by 2020 by encouraging companies from central and eastern Asia to set up factories in the northwestern region (a core area of the Silk Road economic belt), where labor costs are low and cotton is bountiful. In addition, banks will prioritize lending to the sector.
The guideline said the local government should focus on the production of handmade carpets and folk costumes and introduce a series of policies and measures to ensure the sector’s success.
Financial details were not disclosed but last July the government said it had set up a $3.2 billion fund to support the textile and clothing industry. If all goes according to plan, the cabinet projects the region will employ one million people and yield 212.5 billion Chinese yuan (about $34 billion) in 2023.