|Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps|
|Active||1954 – present|
|Allegiance||Chinese Communist Party|
|Headquarters and area served||Ürümqi & Xinjiang|
|Nickname(s)||Bingtuan ("The Corps")|
|Political Commissar||Chen Quanguo|
|Party Secretary||Sun Jinlong|
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, known as XPCC or Bingtuan ("The Corps") for short, is a unique state-owned economic and paramilitary organization in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China. The XPCC has administrative authority over several medium-sized cities as well as settlements and farms in Xinjiang. It has its own administrative structure, fulfilling governmental functions such as healthcare, policing, and education for areas under its jurisdiction. Nominally subject to the XUAR, its internal affairs, including the administration of its cities and reclaimed land, is separate from that of the Autonomous Region and under direct control of the central government. The XPCC then essentially operates as a State within a State,  and has sometimes been compared to the British East India Company.
The XPCC was founded by Wang Zhen in 1954 on orders from Mao Zedong, and Tao Zhiyue (a former Nationalist general who defected to the Communists in 1949) became its first commander, a post he held until 1968. The stated goals of the XPCC are to develop frontier regions, promote economic development, ensure social stability and ethnic harmony, and consolidate border defense. In its 50-year history, the XPCC has built farms, towns, and cities, provided land and work for disbanded military units, and re-settled Han migrants from other parts of China into Xinjiang as part of a campaign of sinicization. The XPCC also participates in economic activities, and is known as the China Xinjian Group (). It has a number of publicly traded subsidiaries.
In July 2020, the United States announced Global Magnitsky Act sanctions on XPCC in connection with human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. The XPCC is noted to be running many of the Xinjiang re-education camps, as well as following the Chinese Communist Party's efforts to settle ethnic Han Chinese in Xinjiang.
The XPCC draws from the traditional Chinese tuntian system, a policy of settling military units in frontier areas so that they become self-sufficient in food, and similar policies in the Tang and Qing dynasties. Construction corps were set up for several sparsely populated frontier regions, including Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Xinjiang. The newly founded People's Republic of China also had the problem of what to do with many former non-Communist soldiers who had been removed from economic production for many years. Ideas about settling such soldiers on the land had been common in China for many years. The Chinese government formed the XPCC from soldiers from the (Communist) First Field Army, former Kuomintang soldiers and soldiers from the local Ili National Army. The XPCC itself was founded in October 1954 by Wang Zhen in 1954 under the orders of Mao Zedong, comprising 175,000 military personnel based in Xinjiang, led by Tao Zhiyue as its first commander-in-chief.
The XPCC was initially focused on settling, cultivating, and developing sparsely populated areas, such as the fringes of the Taklimakan Desert and Gurbantunggut Desert, under the principle of "not competing for benefits with the local people". It also served as a reserve force for the military in Xinjiang, although they were not called upon, since relations with the Soviet Union were good in the early years of the People's Republic. The ranks of the XPCC were also joined by many youth, both male and female, from other parts of China, to balance out its sex ratio and include members with better education. In 1962, after the Sino-Soviet split, rioting occurred in Yining and 60,000 ethnic minorities living near the border fled to the Soviet Union. The Chinese government feared that the Soviet Union was trying to destabilize China and start a war. The XPCC was ordered to cultivate the farms of those who fled. By 1966 the XPCC had a population of 1.48 million.
The XPCC, together with many other governmental and party organizations, was severely damaged by the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. In 1975 it was abolished completely, with all of its powers transferred to the government of Xinjiang and regional authorities. After the Soviet Union invaded neighbouring Afghanistan in 1979, and the Islamic mujahid movement gained force, fears of Soviet encirclement and Islamic fundamentalism lead to the re-establishment of the XPCC in 1981 as well as the cultivation of frontier lands and economic development. After 2008, as a result of improvements in farm mechanization, students were no longer called upon to pick the cotton crop.
The XPCC is administered by both the central government of the China as well as the government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Its internal affairs, including the administration of its cities and reclaimed land, is separate from that of the Autonomous Region and under direct control of the central government. It has sub-provincial powers on par with sub-provincial cities. The Party Secretary of Xinjiang serves as the "executive political commissar" of the XPCC, while the XPCC's own party chief usually concurrently serves as the political commissar of the XPCC and acts as its highest day-to-day authority. The party chief of the XPCC also has power in Xinjiang second only to the party chief of the region. The area and population of the XPCC are generally given as part of Xinjiang's total figures, but the GDP of the XPCC is generally listed separately.
The XPCC is subdivided into divisions, then regiments. It is headquartered at Urumqi. Each XPCC division corresponds to a prefecture-level administrative division of Xinjiang, and are in themselves sub-prefectural in rank. In addition to regiments, the XPCC also administers regiment-level farms and ranches.
The XPCC itself, as well as each individual division, is headed by three leaders: a first political commissar, a political commissar, and a commander. The Communist Party Committee Secretary of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region is the first political commissar of XPCC ex officio and the first political commissars of each XPCC division are likewise the committee secretaries in each of the corresponding prefecture-level divisions.
At the end of the 20th century, the military role of the XPCC was diluted, being given instead to the Xinjiang Military District, a part of the current Western Theater Command that includes all of western China. At present, the military personnel of the XPCC are mostly reservists or militia.
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Commissioner Nury Turkel, describing the XPCC's role in the Xinjiang re-education camps views the organization as operating parallel to the regional government:
The XPCC is essentially a parallel government in Xinjiang and has been directly involved in implementing the surveillance, mass detention, and forced labor of Uyghurs.
The XPCC consists of 14 divisions which are then subdivided into 185 regiment-level entities (including regiments, farms, and ranches), scattered throughout Xinjiang, mostly in previously unpopulated or sparsely populated areas.
The divisions are:
|1st Division||1953||Aksu Prefecture||Aral|
|2nd Division||1953||Bayingolin Autonomous Prefecture||Tiemenguan|
|3rd Division||1966||Kashgar Prefecture||Tumxuk|
|4th Division||1953||Ili Autonomous Prefectur
(southern, directly administered portion)
|5th Division||1953||Bortala Autonomous Prefecture||Shuanghe|
|6th Division||1953||Changji Autonomous Prefecture||Wujiaqu|
|7th Division||1953||Ili Autonomous Prefecture
|8th Division||1953||area east of Karamay||Shihezi|
|9th Division||1962||Tacheng Prefecture||Emin County|
|10th Division||1959||Altay Prefecture||Beitun|
the former Construction Division
|14th Division||1982||Hotan Prefecture||Kunyu|
In May 1953, the PLA's 25th, 26th and 27th Divisions from the 9th Corps were reorganized as 7th, 8th and 9th Agriculture Construction Division of the XPCC, respectively.
The XPCC has settled Han Chinese in Xinjiang and has built eleven medium-sized cities during its history, and now controls ten of them. The governments of these cities are combined entirely with the division that controls them. For example, the division headquarters is the same entity as the city government, the division political commissar the same person as the city committee secretary, the division commander the same person as the city's mayor, and so forth. Ten XPCC-administered cities are nominally listed as "sub-prefectural-level cities" of Xinjiang Uyghur Administrative Region, but the government of Xinjiang is usually not involved in the administration of these cities.
|Name||Dates of official
designation as a "city"
|?||Tianbei New Area||?||-||2002-2019|
37 ethnic groups are represented in the XPCC, the largest of which are the Han. Muslims, numbered at 250,000, are the largest religious group represented, while there exist smaller populations of Buddhists, Protestants, and Catholics. While the Han have been the largest group of XPCC workers, their relative numbers have seen a decline: from 1980 to 1993 the overall membership of the XPCC remained constant, while Han membership declined from 90% to 88%. As of 2014, about 12% of the population of Xinjiang was connected to the XPCC.
|Ethnic groups in XPCC, 2002 estimate|
The Eighth Division is the most populous division, with a population of 579,300 (2002).
The XPCC is currently focused on economic development as its stated primary goal. With the continued opening up of the economy, the XPCC has created many publicly traded subsidiary companies involved in the production and sale of a variety of products. When involved in such economic activities, the XPCC uses the name "China Xinjian Group". XPCC made up 17% of Xinjiang's GDP in 2013.
The primary economic activity of the XPCC remains agriculture, including cotton, fruit, vegetables, food crops, vegetable oils, sugar beets, and so forth. Important products are cotton, tomatoes, ketchup, Korla pears, Turpan grapes, wine, and so forth. The XPCC has a mix of factory farming and smaller farms. The XPCC has mostly dominated Xinjiang's agriculture and controls large amounts of lands. During its history, XPCC established a large amount of mining and mining-related industries, most of which have subsequently been handed over to the Xinjiang government. The XPCC is also involved in a variety of tertiary industries, including trade, distribution, real estate, tourism, construction and even insurance.
The XPCC operates its own educational system covering primary, secondary and tertiary education (including two universities, Shihezi University () and Tarim University ()); its own daily newspaper, the Bingtuan Daily; and its own TV stations at both the XPCC and division levels.
The XPCC was sanctioned by the United States in 2020, citing alleged human rights abuses. USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel remarked "Now, no business can claim ignorance of China's oppression[sic] of the Uyghur people. We hope the sanctions signal to other Chinese officials that there are costs associated with taking part in the Communist Party's repression of religion. The world is watching and we know which officials and entities are responsible for the abuses against the Uyghur people." In December 2020, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that cotton and cotton products from the XPCC would be prohibited from import into the U.S. due to forced labor concerns.