December 25, 2015 / 7:24 AM / 2 years ago

Chinese bank to offer $7.7 bln in finance in unruly Xinjiang

BEIJING, Dec 25 (Reuters) - Minsheng Banking Corp , China's largest private bank, will provide 50 billion yuan ($7.73 billion) in financial support to China's violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang over the next five years, state media said on Friday.

Hundreds of people have been killed over the past few years in resource-rich Xinjiang, strategically located on the borders of central Asia, in violence between the Muslim Uighur people who call the region home and ethnic majority Han Chinese.

The government has also blamed attacks elsewhere in China, including Beijing, on Islamist militants from Xinjiang.

Authorities have employed a carrot and stick approach to bring Xinjiang under control, massively ramping up security but also pumping in money, in a recognition of the economic roots of the unrest, especially in the poorer southern portion.

Minsheng President Hong Qi said the bank will make Xinjiang one of its strategic development areas, especially due to Xinjiang's location as a hub for China's New Silk Road initiative, the official Xinjiang Daily reported.

The newspaper did not say what specific projects the money may go towards.

Calls to the bank seeking comment went unanswered.

Xinjiang's Communist Party boss, Zhang Chunxian, said he hoped Minsheng could help to lower financing costs for firms in Xinjiang and in the region's overall development, the newspaper added.

Many Uighurs complain that only the Han Chinese benefit from Xinjiang's economic growth, as a result of discrimination and the poor educational levels of Uighurs, including lack of fluency in Mandarin, the national tongue.

Xinjiang is crucial to China's growing energy needs but foreign academics and rights groups say the bulk of the proceeds from sales of its resources has gone to majority Han Chinese, stoking resentment among Uighurs. ($1 = 6.4712 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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