White paper hails "great progress" of human right protection in Xinjiang
June 02,2017   By:Xinhua
BEIJING, June 2, 2017 -- A white paper issued by China's State Council Information Office on Thursday lauded "great progress" in the protection of human rights of people of various ethnic groups in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
According to the white paper, titled "Human Rights in Xinjiang - Development and Progress," Xinjiang's economic and social development has entered a new historical phase since China launched its epoch-making reform and opening-up drive in 1978.
The white paper expounded on the development and progress in the region in eight parts -- political rights, civil rights, economic rights, social rights, cultural rights, environmental rights, right to freedom of religious belief and rights of women, children, the elderly and disabled.
It said that before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, ethnic groups of Xinjiang were at the bottom of the social ladder and deprived of basic human rights.
Over the years, the Chinese central government has taken effective measures to develop the economy, improve people's living standards, enhance the well-being of the public, promote ethnic unity and progress, and safeguard the basic rights of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang has made efforts to protect the public's right to freedom of expression in the region, it read.
The region has created a wide range of Internet infrastructure and websites, while continuing to promote traditional media, such as radio, television, newspapers and magazines, it said.
"As a result, the citizens' right to information, right to participation, and right of scrutiny are guaranteed," the white paper said.
It said the number of netizens in Xinjiang rose from 448,000 in 2002 to 12,960,000 by the end of 2016. This growth rate ranked third in China, with a rate of penetration of 54.9 percent, which ranked first in the western region.
According to the white paper, over 40 percent of the civil servants in Xinjiang are of ethnic minority origins in 2016.
There were 91,076 ethnic minority civil servants in Xinjiang in 2016. More than 66 percent of them were women, it said.
The figure represented a huge increase from just about 3,000 in 1950, it said. In 1955, some 46,000 civil service officials were of ethnic minority origins.
China has fully implemented the policy of freedom of religious belief, protecting normal religious activities and ensuring the public's freedom of religion in Xinjiang.
To satisfy normal religious needs of local people, Xinjiang has published translations of the religious classics of Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity in multiple languages, the white paper said, adding 1.76 million copies of the Quran and Selections from Al-Sahih Muhammad Ibn-Ismail al-Bukhari have been printed and distributed.
Religious organizations have organized training courses on religious knowledge and etiquette for citizens with religious beliefs.
Xinjiang has 112 religious organizations, which receive help from the government to improve their conditions and allow them to play a broader role, it said.
"Legitimate rights of religious organizations have been effectively safeguarded," the white paper read.
The incidence of poverty had dropped to 10 percent or less by the end of 2016, said the white paper.
It said that the region has implemented targeted and effective measures in poverty alleviation, and further improvement has been made in the quality of life and daily living conditions of the impoverished.
Since the launch of China's reform and opening-up drive in 1978, Xinjiang's GDP has soared from 3.9 billion yuan (about 570 million U.S. dollars) to 961.7 billion yuan in 2016.
In the same period, the per-capita disposable income of urban residents rose from 319 yuan to 28,463 yuan and that of rural residents from 119 yuan to 10,183 yuan.
The white paper said the autonomous region has directed a considerable effort to infrastructure construction in tap water, power and gas.
It added that Xinjiang has also given priority to promoting equal employment opportunities, and encouraged different sectors to create more jobs.
According to the white paper, the average life expectancy has increased from 30 years in 1949 to 72.35 years in 2016 while the mortality rate dropped from 20.82 in 1949 to 4.26 per thousand in 2016 in Xinjiang.
"There is marked improvement in ensuring access to healthcare," it said.
The white paper said Xinjiang's medical services were in a poor state before 1949; there was a shortage of doctors and medicines, and epidemics of diseases, such as the plague, smallpox, and cholera, were commonplace.
After more than 60 years of development, a basic medical care system has been established, with medical institutions covering urban and rural areas.
By the end of 2016, there were 15,721 medical institutions of various kinds, including 707 hospitals with 144,500 beds, and 51,000 doctors, and 56,000 nurses, the white paper said, adding Xinjiang is now above the national average in terms of medical service capacity.
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