Xinjiang: Gateway of BRI & CPEC | Muhammad Ehsan

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CHINA Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) being one of the important parts of the Belt & Road Initiative has faced a lot of challenges since its announcement.

The multi-billion project preceded China’s Belt and Road Initiative first announced in the summer of 2013.

The focus was on connecting China with the Chinese-invested Pakistani port of Gwadar through highway, rail and pipeline infrastructure.

“China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” which was only officially launched in April 2015 while China’s President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan. Emphasis shifted towards power generation in Pakistan, and estimated costs ballooned to 46 billion USD.

The two governments then drew up a “Long Term Plan,” starting in 2017 and drastically expanding the projected timeline for implementation up to 2030.

Projected costs moved up to 62 billion USD, and Pakistani officials have since mentioned even higher numbers.

Xinjiang, being the biggest province of China by area, is the province sharing its border with Pakistan is the gateway of CPEC and Belt & Road land route.

Its peace and development is pivotal for the BRI & CPEC itself. Chinese government is making hectic efforts to lift people out of poverty.

A whopping 70 billion dollars has been allocated for the Xinjiang province in the Belt and Road Initiative projects.

This is likely to transform the region completely benefiting the Uighur Muslims immensely.

Chinese leadership is genuinely mindful of the people’s needs and President Xi’s visit to the region indicates that Xinxiang’s development is one of the top priorities of the Chinese leadership.

Such a huge investment will help businesses to flourish, providing excellent opportunities to the Muslims of the region to excel in education, vocational training and trade.

China has lifted more than 780 million people out of poverty. It has made tremendous strides in science, technology, business and trade during the last seven decades.

In several Western countries top universities do not allow Muslim students to opt certain important science subjects but that is not the case in China where Uyghurs are the equal citizens of the state.

Its 5G technology and its handling of Covid-19 recently has stunned the world. It is no more an assembling centre but a hub of learning and a place of research and innovation.

Being the citizens of China, the Uighur Muslims can as much benefit from these innovative technologies as other Chinese people.

The Uyghurs are sons of the soil and they must play their part in the development of Chinese society.

Contrary to Western sponsored-propaganda, the Uyghur population grew from 10.17 million to 12.71 million, an increase of between 2010 and 2018, much higher than 2% growth of Han population and 22% growth of other minority population, which is a reflection of full respect of all rights for Uyghurs.

Economy of the region has developed steadily as is evident from the key economic indicators from 2014 to 2019, average annual GDP growth rate of 7.2%, annual 9.1% growth in residential per capita disposable income, increase of general public budget revenue from 128.33 billion Yuan to 157.76 billion Yuan and remarkable improvement in Xinxiang’s infrastructure.

The living standard of the people has also increased significantly as more than ten million people have moved to new homes, achievement of full coverage of compulsory education and medical insurance coverage for over 99% population.

Xinjiang has made decisive achievements in poverty alleviation with 3.09 million people lifted out of poverty, and all the 32 impoverished counties achieving the goal of poverty alleviation.

It is because of a secure environment that the number of Chinese and foreign tourists to Xinjiang hit a record of 150 million visits in 2018, marking a 40% year-on-year increase and 213 million visits in 2019, marking a 42% year-on-year increase.

Rights and interests of all ethnic groups are fully protected and they are free to receive education, use ethnic languages and inherit their own traditional culture.

This is also borne out from the fact that Xinjiang has more than 24,000 mosques which means a mosque for every 530 Muslims in the region.

This is in sharp contrast to a number of other countries that do not allow Muslims to build mosques and maintain their religious identity.

With a 21.81 million population, Xinjiang has 12 universities and high educational institutes.

This clearly indicates the desire of the Chinese leadership to educate Uighur and other minorities in Xinjiang. Such efforts are also acknowledged by global bodies.

According to a report of the World Bank, “At present, there are 56,708 students in five project schools, with 24,670 being ethnic minorities, accounting for 44% of the total students in these schools.

Since 2010, the number of minority students in project schools has doubled or tripled and the proportion of monitory students has also increased rapidly.

From the above, it is quite clear that the Chinese government has a dogged determination to impart skills to the students of Uighur and other ethnic communities, many of them are Muslims.

After acquiring skills, Uighur and other Muslims of Xinjiang would have an excellent opportunity to carve out a better place in the job market of China.

Such skills would not only open the doors of jobs inside Xinjiang but possibly in other parts of the country.

Therefore, it is important for the Uighur and other Muslims of Xinjiang to stay positive, having trust in their leadership and make their presence felt in the country by taking part in the development of China.

The giant Asian country is likely to overtake the US as the biggest economic power in the coming years. Possibly, the socialist country would become a global power.

Uighur Muslims will have a sense of triumph if they played their role in China’s rise in a positive way.

This will benefit them, their families, their communities and their great country and will lead to peaceful development of CPEC & BRI.

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