Program brings greenhouses and jobs to Xinjiang

Paired assistance program matches wealthier eastern provinces with impoverished counties in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in China's far west with the aim of providing assistance in terms of economic development, education, healthcare, and more. It has long served as a way to advance unity and common prosperity.

One such program, Jinnan New Village, nestles amidst the rolling Gobi Desert in Qira county, Hotan.

In 2014, the village was still vast swathes of wasteland on the southern verge of the Taklimakan Desert.

Then a team of officials from the village's namesake district in the port city of Tianjin came from more than 2,000 kilometers away.

They poured tens of millions of yuan into the poverty relief fund for the area and, in just four years, built from scratch a vegetable-growing village with more than 400 greenhouses.

Since 2018, about 370 ethnic Uygur families, mostly herders roaming pastures on the slope of Kunlun Mountains, moved here into free homes complete with tap water and flush toilets. The village is equipped with a kindergarten, and just two kilometers away, an industrial park built by Tianjin stands ready to offer jobs to the herders-turned-workers.

With aid from mostly ethnic Han technicians sent from Tianjin, villagers learned how to plant tomatoes, trim fig trees, and grow cucumbers. Now each greenhouse helps rake in an average revenue of 20,000 yuan ($2,842) annually.

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