Social stability and solidarity are key to the achievements of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and will still be vital for its development in the future, said a Chinese expert in a recent interview.

In an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN), Huo Zhengxin, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, discussed Xinjiang’s achievements over the past five years and examined the role of Chinese central government policies in the development of the region.

This follows Xinjiang’s strong economic growth from 2014 to 2019, which saw its economy growing by an average of 7.2 percent each year to nearly 1.36 trillion yuan (about 200 billion U.S. dollars). This exponential growth and development have led to infrastructure upgrades, including highways linking all the cities and prefectures in the region.

Furthermore, living standards have continued to improve, with per-capita disposable income of Xinjiang residents growing by 9.1 percent year-on-year, while more and more residents now have basic medical insurance.

“During the past five years, Xinjiang has been a place of stability and prosperity. The economy developed very fast. And in my opinion, social stability and ethnic solidarity are the most important basis to support these achievements. Or in other words, achievements that have been made in the past five years suggest that the policy of the Chinese central government towards Xinjiang is right and efficient,” said the professor.

Huo also noted that China’s fight against terrorism and extremism in Xinjiang has ushered in social stability, which will play an important role in economic growth and poverty alleviation.

“And the fight against terrorism and extremism there has achieved decisive success. Xinjiang has many distinct regional advantages, for example, Xinjiang is extremely rich in culture and natural resources. And it is located in the region that connects the Chinese market towards the mid-Asian countries, and even to Europe”.

“It is very important to the Belt & Road Initiative. So in my eyes, as long as social stability can be maintained, Xinjiang, I think, is an attractive and charming place to the whole world. So I think the eradication of poverty is not a problem as long as stability and solidarity are maintained. And I think once the economy develops, it will on the other hand strengthen the social stability. That’s the bright future that we can expect in Xinjiang in the future,” said Huo.

Poverty eradication made strong progress in Xinjiang. From 2014 to 2019, nearly three million people were lifted out of poverty, leaving just 2.2 percent of people under the poverty line.