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Job Bias Worsens Uighur Muslim Life

Published: 26/11/2012 05:18:15 PM GMT
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CAIRO - While employers are favoring the dominant ethnic Hans, China's Uighur Muslims are facing discrimination in the job market, allowed only in low-status and low-paying jobs, a new study has found.“There is a clear ten (more)

CAIRO - While employers are favoring the dominant ethnic Hans, China's Uighur Muslims are facing discrimination in the job market, allowed only in low-status and low-paying jobs, a new study has found.

“There is a clear tendency for Uighurs to hold low-status and low-paying positions,” Dr Reza Hasmath from Melbourne University's Faculty of Arts said in a study on its website.“So they are generally enduring lower employment rates and wages than their Han counterparts.”

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The study, published by the University of Melbourne, found a combination of a jobs market that favors the dominant Han ethnic group.

“Where Han Chinese are over-represented in high status and high paying jobs such as in education, health and public management, Uighur are over-represented in agriculture, where over 80 percent of the group's working population is present,” Hasmath said.

China's changing economic landscape made the situation worse.

While workers now have greater freedom to join their employer of choice, it has increased migration to urban areas.

“Migrants rely upon their hometown connections to gain an entry into urban life and given the job discrimination seemingly in place, this migration negatively reinforces the problem,” said Dr Hasmath.

Uighurs, a Turkic minority of eight million, have long complained of discrimination in the job market in favor of ethnic Hans.

Though they are a small minority of Xinjiang population, Hans control the employment market in the area.

Han migrants often get free transportation, insurance, housing and help in finding jobs or starting businesses.

Estimates say that there are 1.5 million Uighur workers -- the equivalent of half the adult males in Xinjiang -- are unemployed.

The rife discrimination has sent thousands of Uighurs into the streets to protest the government policies in their region.

In 2009, at least 184 people were killed when Chinese police launched a massive crackdown to quell Uighur protests.

The deadly crackdown drew worldwide condemnation, with Turkey voicing the most alarm by labeling the plight of the Uighurs as "a kind of genocide".

Government Problem

The study blamed the Chinese government for failing to deal with the increasing discrimination against Uighur Muslims in the job market.

“From the government's perspective, a heightened conflict in Xinjiang is not something they want to deal with, as it is to one of the nation's largest and most important natural gas and oil reserves, and occupying one-sixth of China's total land mass,” Dr Hasmath said.

Though economic incentives provided by Chinese authorities to Uighur Muslims have been helpful, they do not solve the problem, the study says.

“Muslim Uighurs continue to watch the better-paying jobs go to Han Chinese, while the more labor-intensive, poorer-paying positions are assigned to them,” Hasmath said.

“Until this situation has been corrected, the current divisions will remain and the Muslim Uighur-Han Chinese conflict will continue to play a significant role in the history of Xinjiang.”

Xinjiang has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of massive security crackdowns by Chinese authorities.

Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang in the name of counter terrorism.

Muslims accuses the government of settling millions of ethnic Han in their territory with the ultimate goal of obliterating its identity and culture.And analysts say the policy of transferring Han Chinese to Xinjiang to consolidate Beijing's authority has increased the proportion of Han in the region from five percent in the 1940s to more than 40 percent now.

Reproduced with permission from