|Uyghur refugee Ershidin Israel|
Friday, 6 January 2012
Thursday, 5 January 2012
While offices in the United States were grinding to a halt for the Holidays, a regional economic work conference attended by the senior leadership was in full swing in Xinjiang. While the meeting was a back slap for the past year of 'leaps and bounds' in the Xinjiang economy and a forum to take in the latest central directives, it also provided an opportunity to set the agenda for 2012.
As ever, measurable details are hard to find; however, calls for creating an environment of stability were bandied about as if it needed to be said enough times for it to come into fruition. Calls for stability are nothing new in the region and often take the form of further squeezes on the Uyghur population. The news that another violent incident had occurred in the region as the year drew to a close should have had those attendees at the economic work conference wondering if they had not repeated the stability mantra enough.
The plan for 2012 the delegates arrived at was 'more of the same'. While unimaginative, we have to consider that we are analyzing regional officials whose incentives are bound in lack of innovation. More demolitions, more outside 'experts' and more bilingual education seem to be in the crystal ball for the new year. While there are nods to environmental protection and agricultural sector support that hint at a more dispersed investment pattern, at the top of the list are still large scale infrastructure projects and the necessity of accelerating natural resources extraction. That's a shame as it misses a key opportunity. For 2012, including Uyghurs into the mainstream regional economy could have been accelerated, but maybe bringing Uyghurs into the Chinese fold in this way is far too empowering.