Xinjiang employees speak out against alleged 'forced labor'
Zhou Jiaxin

Uygur Jumiranmu Macmutti wasn't able to support her family until three years ago. Though her husband, a train driver, makes a stable income, their life​ with two daughters demanded a tight budget.

In 2018, the village cadre went to learn about her family in Kuche City, China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. When they told her family not to worry and said they would figure something out for her, Macmutti didn't take their words seriously. But their arrival became the turning point of her life. 

Two months later, she got a stitching job at a garment plant in the local entrepreneurship park.

Within two years, the once nervous apprentice has grown into a master trainer. What she now passes on is not simply her skills, Macmutti said, but the​ emotional bonds ​formed through her growth.

"It is a job full of human feelings, incentives for mutual help, inspiration and progress," she said at a press conference held in Urumqi on Sunday. "So, I found it ridiculous when I learned some anti-China forces alleging the 'forced labor' in Xinjiang."

"We earn our own living and support our families at home," Macmutti said. "How come it is forced?"

A woman works at a factory in Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. /Xinhua

A woman works at a factory in Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. /Xinhua

Entrepreneurship support

Macmutti is among some 800,000 employees benefiting from the Xinjiang government's entrepreneurship initiative. From 2016 to 2020, the autonomous region funded more than 380,000 entrepreneurs.

"Xinjiang has for a long time regarded entrepreneurship as an important way to boost employment. It has provided training subsidies, guaranteed loans, tax breaks and social insurance subsidies," said Zhang Rong, director of the Xinjiang Public Employment Service Center.

According to Zhang, college graduates, rural migrant workers and those with difficulties finding jobs have easier access to the guaranteed one-off loans that could be more than $30,000. 

"The regional government also encourages entrepreneurship competition, startup services and training to multiply job opportunities," Zhang said.

The policy granted Nurrela Wusman almost $30,000 when she started her household service business in April 2020. The financial relief allowed her to hire more workers and enhance professional training.

"Our business scope has expanded and employed more local rural labor," said the general manager of a housekeeping service company in Artush City in Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture. "That means more income and higher living standards."

She also rebuked anti-China forces for their slandering​ of Xinjiang's ​human rights record. "It is to mess around with our Xinjiang," Wusman said at the same press conference. "Such evil attempts won't triumph, and people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang will live better."

Officials, who also attended the press conference, said they will continue to create job opportunities in rural areas, particularly for those newly free from poverty.

(Cover image: Jumiranmu Macmutti helps her colleagues with stitching skills in a local garment factory in Kuche City, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. /CGTN)

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