Dongguan, Guangdong province, is providing strong support to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to help boost the local economy and employment by introducing industrial projects and organizing training to improve workers' skills.
From 2016 to 2020, Dongguan poured about 3.45 billion yuan ($529 million) into 251 projects in Tumxuk, a city in southern Xinjiang, to support its development.
Last year alone, the figure reached 801 million yuan, involving 61 projects. Of that amount, about 230 million yuan, or 28.7 percent, was used to promote local industrial development and employment.
"We have been making efforts to introduce projects in various sectors to enrich the industries in the city," said Chen Chang, deputy head of Dongguan's Xinjiang-supporting work team, adding the focus was on agricultural product processing, textiles and garments, electronics manufacturing, construction engineering, cultural tourism and medical services.
The Yuetong electronic industrial park in Tumxuk is one project being supported by Dongguan. The park, which began operation in December 2019, mainly produces mobile phone and computer accessories.
Chen Hongyang, chairman of Xinjiang Yuetong Industrial, which owns and operates the industrial park, said that despite the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the value of production last year was 50 million yuan.
"We aim to increase our annual output to 300 million yuan within the coming three years and provide 1,500 jobs," Chen said.
To help local workers improve their technical skills, the company has been carrying out training since May. By the end of November, more than 570 people had been trained.
"The technical training has greatly enhanced local workers' work abilities," Chen said. "Now, our production capacity can reach 60 percent of that of counterparts in Dongguan factories, whereas the figure was only 10 percent before the training."
Subinur Abula, a member of the Uygur ethnic group, is in charge of mobile phone data line testing at the factory.
The 18-year-old said she can test over 3,000 data lines a day, which could earn her more than 2,000 yuan a month.
In a factory in another corner of the city, workers were busy making socks for export.
Wei Zhanpeng, production manager at Xinjiang Tangjin Textile, said the factory employed more than 150 workers, 97 of them Uygurs.
The company is expanding production in the city and plans to build 21 production facilities in the next three years.
"Each production facility will have 480 machines," Wei said. "That means we will have over 10,000 machines in all and have the capacity to make 1.32 billion pairs of socks each year."
An 18-year-old Uygur intern at the factory who wanted to be anonymous said she could master 40 machines on her own and earn a monthly salary of 2,500 yuan.
"When I get more skillful in operating those machines, I will then be able to master a total of 60 machines and earn 3,800 yuan a month, which is very good compared with the overall local income level," she said.
To provide more jobs to local people, the enterprise has also sent machines to local families, enabling them to work from home.
"For local farmers, they have nothing to do after harvest seasons, and for many local women, they don't have jobs," Wei said. "By sending machines freely to the neighborhoods, we enable them to deal with seaming and shaping (two steps in the sock-making process) at home and earn money easily."
More than 10 families in Tumxuk have benefited from the move, and Wei said the company plans to send machines to 1,200 families in the next three years.