How human rights in China progressed in recent years
Local residents walk in a street at a scenic spot in the ancient city of Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, May 16, 2020. /Xinhua

Local residents walk in a street at a scenic spot in the ancient city of Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, May 16, 2020. /Xinhua

When Zileyhan Eysa first heard about the job at a clothing factory from a village official, she didn't hesitate to take the opportunity. After 32 hours of train ride, she finally arrived in the city of Bole, also her destination.

Before taking on this adventure, Zileyhan had never left her home village in Kuqa County, Aksu Prefecture, which is located in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Her mother Tursungul Rejep, who fell gravely ill at the time, couldn't afford treatment but was still anxious about her daughter's leap of faith.

Yet Zileyhan's factory job, which paid 5,000 yuan (roughly $600) per month, was more than enough to turn things around. It not only helped cure her mother's illness but also paid for the family's first automobile vehicle.

"Her biggest change is she's grown up and is as pretty as a city girl,” said Tursungul. "I've changed my mind, she's focused on work, I'm so glad.” 

Last year, Xinjiang registered a seven percent growth in GDP, reaching nearly 1.6 trillion yuan (roughly $251 billion), according to local authorities. Meanwhile, the per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents in Xinjiang hit 37,642 yuan - an increase of eight percent, higher than the growth rate of GDP.

The combined population of all Chinese ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang stood at nearly 15 million as of October 2020, an increase of over 1.9 million, or nearly 14.3 percent, in 10 years, according to data from the 2021 Xinjiang census.

Of these 15 million, over 11.6 million are Uygurs, the largest ethnic group in the region, making up roughly 45 percent of Xinjiang's total population, the data showed. Meanwhile, the population of the Han people in Xinjiang increased by nearly 2.2 million to reach 10.9 million, accounting for roughly 42 percent of the region's total.

Throughout the region, the education level has also risen significantly. The years of education for people 15 years and older have risen to nearly 10 years in 2020. This figure is higher than the national average of 9.9 years.

Looking at age, over 5.8 million children are under the age of 14, accounting for roughly 22.5 percent of the total population. Over the past decade, the population of children under 14 has increased by more than 1.2 million. The working age population represents roughly 66 percent of the total population. The elderly population aged above 60 accounts for roughly 11.3 percent.

As the poverty alleviation campaign continues to be carried out in Xinjiang, especially in the south, people's living conditions have improved, as has the pace of urbanization.

According to data from the latest census released by the Xinjiang government, the percentage of the permanent urban population is roughly 56 percent, compared with 43 percent for the rural population. Urban population has increased nearly 14 percent in the past decade.

Last year, China's State Council released a white paper documenting the country's progress in advancing human rights. The paper, titled “Moderate Prosperity in All Respects: Another Milestone Achieved in China's Human Rights,” says the Chinese government pursues “a people-centered development philosophy” and that “the realization of all-round moderate prosperity ushers in a new era for the protection of human rights in all respects.”

"The route to all-round moderate prosperity coincides with comprehensive progress in human rights in China, which involves all the steps necessary to liberate, protect and develop the individual," the white paper said.

"A moderately prosperous society takes it as the primary goal to secure adequate food and clothing and protect the right to subsistence and takes further steps to meet the growing material and cultural needs of the people," it said, underscoring China's "visible progress in securing basic needs and remarkable improvements in living standards" over the past decades.

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