Report rebukes claims on Xinjiang

People from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region who choose to work outside the region are mainly influenced by high-paying job opportunities, their families and friends, and the social environment, according to a new research report.

Also, unlike the claims made by certain Western think tanks, they are entirely able to decide on the place and period of their work by their own free will, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Institute for Communication and Borderland Governance of Jinan University in Guangdong province.

The allegations that minorities in Xinjiang are subject to "forced labor" and the workers are "closely monitored, live in guarded dormitories and have their freedom of movement restricted" prompted the investigative research, in which 70 people from the Uygur, Kazak, Kyrgyz and Tajik ethnic groups who have been working for five companies in Guangdong province were interviewed.

The report said 36 percent of the interviewees were attracted by higher incomes while 24 percent were introduced to the jobs by family and friends. In addition, 13 percent of them chose to work outside Xinjiang so their children would have better educational resources, the report said.

The after-tax monthly income of 474 workers from Xinjiang in the five companies ranged from 4,500 yuan to 5,500 yuan ($691-$845).Their average annual income was about 60,120 yuan in 2020, while the average annual disposable income of Xinjiang's urban residents in 2020 was 34,838 yuan, and that of rural residents was 14,056 yuan. So it's not difficult to see that the annual income of the Xinjiang workers in Guangdong was much higher than people in their hometowns, the report said.

Also, Xinjiang workers are free to leave their workplaces after work to meet with friends and go shopping and traveling. Their employers have no connection with "restriction of movement" or "surveillance" in any form. The workers also said they were able to change their employer according to their own needs and preferences, the report added.

During the interviews, the workers from Xinjiang also talked about their plans for the future. Though there were differences in their plans, the decisions of all were significantly influenced by their experiences of working away from Xinjiang.

The report said 45 percent of the workers hoped to continue working for their current employers in order to earn more money, while 31 percent planned to use their savings to start a business in their hometown in Xinjiang, and about 23 percent planned to permanently live in Guangdong, the report said.

Unfortunately, in the name of protecting human rights, the "forced labor" accusations and sanctions imposed on companies that employ Xinjiang workers have threatened the labor rights of Xinjiang people, the report added.