An Insider’s Perspective

The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) is an important vehicle of governing multi-ethnic Xinjiang in north-western China. Since its establishment in 1954, XPCC’s key role has been to settle and safeguard the frontier area mainly through the development of agriculture and industry. Organised with a military structure, but also a hybrid of enterprise and bureaucracy, XPCC was a model for Chinese development in the 1950s and 60s. However, the contemporary XPCC faces difficulties adapting to the market economy and is now highly dependent on central government for financial and political support.

In this paper, Yajun Bao draws on his personal experience to identify the reasons for XPCC’s difficulties and to make recommendations for its future. Currently, XPCC is committed to developing more of its own cities in order to facilitate industrial development. But relationships with both the government of Xinjiang and the local population are strained. To win a truly sustainable future, this paper suggests that XPCC should cooperate with local government to build and run cities on a joint basis, based on the successful example of Tianbei New District. XPCC should also provide social services to establish closer ties with the local population. Thus, this organisation could become powerfully embedded in Xinjiang rather than remaining an ‘island.’ 

About the author

Yajun Bao is a Research Fellow at the Development Research Center of the State Council in Beijing, China, and was a DRC Visiting Researcher 2017-2018 at the Blavatnik School of Government.