Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps

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Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps
Active1954 – present
Country People's Republic of China
Allegiance Chinese Communist Party
TypeState-owned enterprise
Paramilitary organisation
Size2.6 million
Headquarters and area servedÜrümqi & Xinjiang
Nickname(s)Bingtuan ("The Corps")
Divisions14
Websitewww.xjbt.gov.cn
Commanders
Commander-in-ChiefPeng Jiarui
Political CommissarChen Quanguo
Party SecretarySun Jinlong
Notable
commanders
Tao Zhiyue[1]
Part of a series on the
History of Xinjiang
Museum für Indische Kunst Dahlem Berlin Mai 2006 063.jpg

The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, known as XPCC or Bingtuan ("The Corps") for short, is a unique state-owned economic and paramilitary organization in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China. The XPCC has administrative authority over several medium-sized cities as well as settlements and farms in Xinjiang. It has its own administrative structure, fulfilling governmental functions such as healthcare, policing, and education for areas under its jurisdiction. Nominally subject to the XUAR, its internal affairs, including the administration of its cities and reclaimed land, is separate from that of the Autonomous Region and under direct control of the central government. The XPCC then essentially operates as a State within a State, [2][3] and has sometimes been compared to the British East India Company.

The XPCC was founded by Wang Zhen in 1954 on orders from Mao Zedong, and Tao Zhiyue (a former Nationalist general who defected to the Communists in 1949) became its first commander, a post he held until 1968.[1][4] The stated goals of the XPCC are to develop frontier regions, promote economic development, ensure social stability and ethnic harmony, and consolidate border defense. In its 50-year history, the XPCC has built farms, towns, and cities, provided land and work for disbanded military units, and re-settled Han migrants from other parts of China into Xinjiang as part of a campaign of sinicization. The XPCC also participates in economic activities, and is known as the China Xinjian Group (中国新建集团). It has a number of publicly traded subsidiaries.

In July 2020, the United States announced Global Magnitsky Act sanctions on XPCC in connection with human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.[5][6][7] The XPCC is noted to be running many of the Xinjiang re-education camps,[8] as well as following the Chinese Communist Party's efforts to settle ethnic Han Chinese in Xinjiang.[9][10][11]

History[edit]

The XPCC draws from the traditional Chinese tuntian system, a policy of settling military units in frontier areas so that they become self-sufficient in food, and similar policies in the Tang and Qing dynasties.[12] Construction corps were set up for several sparsely populated frontier regions, including Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang. The newly founded People's Republic of China also had the problem of what to do with many former non-Communist soldiers who had been removed from economic production for many years. Ideas about settling such soldiers on the land had been common in China for many years. The Chinese government formed the XPCC from soldiers from the (Communist) First Field Army, former Kuomintang soldiers[12] and soldiers from the local Ili National Army.[13] The XPCC itself was founded in October 1954 by Wang Zhen in 1954 under the orders of Mao Zedong, comprising 175,000 military personnel based in Xinjiang, led by Tao Zhiyue as its first commander-in-chief.[13]

The XPCC was initially focused on settling, cultivating, and developing sparsely populated areas, such as the fringes of the Taklimakan Desert and Gurbantunggut Desert, under the principle of "not competing for benefits with the local people".[14] It also served as a reserve force for the military in Xinjiang, although they were not called upon, since relations with the Soviet Union were good in the early years of the People's Republic.[13][12] The ranks of the XPCC were also joined by many youth, both male and female, from other parts of China, to balance out its sex ratio and include members with better education. In 1962, after the Sino-Soviet split, rioting occurred in Yining and 60,000 ethnic minorities living near the border fled to the Soviet Union. The Chinese government feared that the Soviet Union was trying to destabilize China[12] and start a war.[13] The XPCC was ordered to cultivate the farms of those who fled.[13] By 1966 the XPCC had a population of 1.48 million.

The XPCC, together with many other governmental and party organizations, was severely damaged by the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. In 1975 it was abolished completely, with all of its powers transferred to the government of Xinjiang and regional authorities.[14] After the Soviet Union invaded neighbouring Afghanistan in 1979, and the Islamic mujahid movement gained force, fears of Soviet encirclement and Islamic fundamentalism lead to the re-establishment of the XPCC in 1981[14] as well as the cultivation of frontier lands and economic development.[14] After 2008, as a result of improvements in farm mechanization, students were no longer called upon to pick the cotton crop.[15]

Organization[edit]

The XPCC is administered by both the central government of the China as well as the government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Its internal affairs, including the administration of its cities and reclaimed land, is separate from that of the Autonomous Region and under direct control of the central government.[16] It has sub-provincial powers on par with sub-provincial cities. The Party Secretary of Xinjiang serves as the "executive political commissar" of the XPCC, while the XPCC's own party chief usually concurrently serves as the political commissar of the XPCC and acts as its highest day-to-day authority. The party chief of the XPCC also has power in Xinjiang second only to the party chief of the region.[17] The area and population of the XPCC are generally given as part of Xinjiang's total figures, but the GDP of the XPCC is generally listed separately.

The XPCC is subdivided into divisions, then regiments. It is headquartered at Urumqi. Each XPCC division corresponds to a prefecture-level administrative division of Xinjiang, and are in themselves sub-prefectural in rank. In addition to regiments, the XPCC also administers regiment-level farms and ranches.

The XPCC itself, as well as each individual division, is headed by three leaders: a first political commissar, a political commissar, and a commander. The Communist Party Committee Secretary of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region is the first political commissar of XPCC ex officio and the first political commissars of each XPCC division are likewise the committee secretaries in each of the corresponding prefecture-level divisions.

At the end of the 20th century, the military role of the XPCC was diluted, being given instead to the Xinjiang Military District, a part of the current Western Theater Command that includes all of western China. At present, the military personnel of the XPCC are mostly reservists or militia.

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Commissioner Nury Turkel, describing the XPCC's role in the Xinjiang re-education camps views the organization as operating parallel to the regional government:

The XPCC is essentially a parallel government in Xinjiang and has been directly involved in implementing the surveillance, mass detention, and forced labor of Uyghurs.[6]

Administrative structure[edit]

The XPCC consists of 14 divisions which are then subdivided into 185 regiment-level entities (including regiments, farms, and ranches), scattered throughout Xinjiang, mostly in previously unpopulated or sparsely populated areas.

The divisions are:

Name Founded Location (approximate) Headquarters
1st Division 1953 Aksu Prefecture Aral
2nd Division 1953 Bayingolin Autonomous Prefecture Tiemenguan
3rd Division 1966 Kashgar Prefecture Tumxuk
4th Division 1953 Ili Autonomous Prefectur
(southern, directly administered portion)
Kokdala
5th Division 1953 Bortala Autonomous Prefecture Shuanghe
6th Division 1953 Changji Autonomous Prefecture Wujiaqu
7th Division 1953 Ili Autonomous Prefecture
and Karamay
Huyanghe
8th Division 1953 area east of Karamay Shihezi
9th Division 1962 Tacheng Prefecture Emin County
10th Division 1959 Altay Prefecture Beitun
11th Division
the former Construction Division
1953 Ürümqi Xinshi, Ürümqi
12th Division 1982 Ürümqi Ürümqi
13th Division 1982 Hami Hami
14th Division 1982 Hotan Prefecture Kunyu

In May 1953, the PLA's 25th, 26th and 27th Divisions from the 9th Corps were reorganized as 7th, 8th and 9th Agriculture Construction Division of the XPCC, respectively.[citation needed]

Settlements[edit]

The XPCC has settled Han Chinese in Xinjiang[18] and has built eleven medium-sized cities during its history, and now controls ten of them.[19] The governments of these cities are combined entirely with the division that controls them. For example, the division headquarters is the same entity as the city government, the division political commissar the same person as the city committee secretary, the division commander the same person as the city's mayor, and so forth. Ten XPCC-administered cities are nominally listed as "sub-prefectural-level cities" of Xinjiang Uyghur Administrative Region, but the government of Xinjiang is usually not involved in the administration of these cities.

Name Dates of official
designation as a "city"
Governing period Division
Kuytun[13] 奎屯市 1975-08-29 1953–1975 7th
Tianbei New Area 天北新区 - 2002–2019
Shihezi[14] 石河子市 1976-01-02 1953–1975, 1980–present 8th
Aral 阿拉尔市 2004-01-19 1953–1975, 1980–present 1st
Wujiaqu[14] 五家渠市 2004-01-19 1953–1975, 1980–present 6th
Tumxuk 图木舒克市 2004-01-19 1966–1975, 1980–present 3rd
Beitun 北屯市 2011-11-28 2002–present 10th
Tiemenguan 铁门关市 2012-12-30 2002–present 2nd
Shuanghe 双河市 2014-02-26 2002–present 5th
Kokdala 可克达拉市 2015-03-18 2003–present 4th
Kunyu 昆玉市 2016-01-20 2003–present 14th
Huyanghe 胡杨河市 2019-12-06 2010–present 7th
Xiaobaiyang 小白杨市 TBD 2010–present 9th
Beiting 北亭市 TBD 2010–present 12th
Hongxing 红星市 TBD 2010–present 13th

Demographics[edit]

37 ethnic groups are represented in the XPCC, the largest of which are the Han. Muslims, numbered at 250,000, are the largest religious group represented, while there exist smaller populations of Buddhists, Protestants, and Catholics.[14] While the Han have been the largest group of XPCC workers, their relative numbers have seen a decline: from 1980 to 1993 the overall membership of the XPCC remained constant, while Han membership declined from 90% to 88%.[12] As of 2014, about 12% of the population of Xinjiang was connected to the XPCC.[20]

Ethnic groups in XPCC, 2002 estimate[21]
Nationality Population Percentage
Han 2,204,500 88.1
Uyghur 165,000 6.6
Hui 64,700 2.6
Kazakh 42,700 1.7
Mongol 6,200 0.3
others 18,100 0.7

The Eighth Division is the most populous division, with a population of 579,300 (2002).

Economy[edit]

The XPCC is currently focused on economic development as its stated primary goal. With the continued opening up of the economy, the XPCC has created many publicly traded subsidiary companies involved in the production and sale of a variety of products.[22] When involved in such economic activities, the XPCC uses the name "China Xinjian Group".[14] XPCC made up 17% of Xinjiang's GDP in 2013.[20]

The primary economic activity of the XPCC remains agriculture, including cotton, fruit, vegetables, food crops, vegetable oils, sugar beets, and so forth. Important products are cotton, tomatoes, ketchup, Korla pears, Turpan grapes, wine, and so forth. The XPCC has a mix of factory farming and smaller farms. The XPCC has mostly dominated Xinjiang's agriculture and controls large amounts of lands.[19] During its history, XPCC established a large amount of mining and mining-related industries, most of which have subsequently been handed over to the Xinjiang government. The XPCC is also involved in a variety of tertiary industries, including trade, distribution, real estate, tourism, construction and even insurance.[19]

Currently the XPCC has eleven publicly traded subsidiaries. They are:

Sanctions[edit]

The XPCC was sanctioned by the United States in 2020, citing alleged human rights abuses. USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel remarked "Now, no business can claim ignorance of China's oppression[sic] of the Uyghur people. We hope the sanctions signal to other Chinese officials that there are costs associated with taking part in the Communist Party’s repression of religion. The world is watching and we know which officials and entities are responsible for the abuses against the Uyghur people.”[23]

Culture[edit]

The XPCC operates its own educational system covering primary, secondary and tertiary education (including two universities, Shihezi University (石河子大学) and Tarim University (塔里木大学)); its own daily newspaper, the Bingtuan Daily; and its own TV stations at both the XPCC and division levels.[citation needed]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Tao Zhiyue 1892 - 1988)" in James Z. Gao: Historical Dictionary of Modern China (1800–1949), p. 358, 2009, Scarecrow Press
  2. ^ "The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps: an Insider's Perspective". www.bsg.ox.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 16 June 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  3. ^ Washington, AFP in (31 July 2020). "US imposes sanctions on Chinese 'state-within-a-state' linked to Xinjiang abuses". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 August 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  4. ^ Xinjiang Production & Construction Corps: Key Policy Tool from Mao to Xi Andrew Erickson, 16 November 2019
  5. ^ Allen-Ebrahimian, Bethany (31 July 2020). "U.S. sanctions China's paramilitary in Xinjiang". Axios. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b Lipes, Joshua (31 July 2020). "US Sanctions Key Paramilitary Group, Officials Over Abuses in China's Xinjiang Region". Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on 31 July 2020. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Treasury Sanctions Chinese Entity and Officials Pursuant to Global Magnitsky Human Rights Executive Order". U.S. Department of the Treasury. 31 July 2020. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  8. ^ "On Sanctioning Human Rights Abusers in Xinjiang, China". United States Department of State. Archived from the original on 4 August 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Treasury Sanctions Chinese Entity and Officials Pursuant to Global Magnitsky Human Rights Executive Order | U.S. Department of the Treasury". home.treasury.gov. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  10. ^ "U.S. imposes sanctions on Chinese company over abuse of Uighurs". Reuters. 31 July 2020. Archived from the original on 3 August 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  11. ^ Allen-Ebrahimian, Bethany. "U.S. sanctions China's paramilitary in Xinjiang". Axios. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e Rossabi, Morris (2005). Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers. University of Washington Press. pp. 157–158.
  13. ^ a b c d e f O'Neill, Mark (13 April 2008). "The Conqueror of China's Wild West". Asia Sentinel. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h "IX. Establishment, Development and Role of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps". History and Development of Xinjiang. State Council of the People's Republic of China. May 2003. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  15. ^ Douclose, Eva (22 August 2020). "Sanctions on China's top cotton supplier weave a tangled web for fashion brands". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 22 August 2020. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  16. ^ Bao, Yajun. "The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps" (PDF). Oxford University BSG. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 May 2020. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Dismantling China's Muslim gulag in Xinjiang is not enough, Dismantling China's Muslim gulag in Xinjiang is not enough". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 19 January 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  18. ^ Ramzy, Austin; Buckley, Chris (16 November 2019). "'Absolutely No Mercy': Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 22 December 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  19. ^ a b c "Many Han Chinese don't mind the gulag for their Uighur neighbours". The Economist. 9 January 2020. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 12 January 2020. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  20. ^ a b Olesen, Alexa. "China's Vast, Strange, and Powerful Farming Militia Turns 60". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  21. ^ "Source". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2005.
  22. ^ Feng, Emily (23 May 2018). "China tightens grip on restive western region". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 20 September 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  23. ^ Linda Lew (24 August 2020). "Xinjiang's sprawling conglomerate may be biggest ever to face US sanctions". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 24 August 2020.

Sources[edit]

  • Originally translated from the Chinese Wikipedia article
  • Becquelin, Nicolas. "Xinjiang in the Nineties." The China Journal, no. 44 (2000): 65–90.
  • Desai, Sohum, Study of the Infrastructure of Xinjiang, Security Research Review.
  • McMillen, Donald H. "Xinjiang and the Production and Construction Corps: A Han Organisation in a Non-Han Region." The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, no. 6 (1981): 65–96.
  • O'Neill, Mark, "The Conqueror of China’s Wild West" Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Asia Sentinel, 13 April 2008.
  • For additional information, see James D. Seymour, "Xinjiang’s Production and Construction Corps, and the Sinification of Eastern Turkestan", Inner Asia, 2, 2000, pp. 171–193.

External links[edit]