The Chinese government will spend 1.875 billion yuan (USD 298.92 million) to improve irrigation systems in the heavily ethnic Uighur southern part of the violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday.
The government has increasingly turned its focus to development in southern Xinjiang in recent years, in an implicit recognition of the economic causes of some of the unrest there.
Xinjiang, a huge region bordering Central Asia, has long been a security worry for Beijing, which has led a massive clampdown after deadly bouts of ethnic violence it blames on Islamist and separatist extremists amongst the Uighur population.
Xinhua said the funds will be used to upgrade irrigation facilities and promote water-saving technology to boost farm output in southern Xinjiang, where it said most the region's poorest people live.
Southern Xinjiang is a major producer of cotton and fruit.
"However, a lack of water and outdated irrigation systems have long hampered agricultural development in the region," Xinhua said. It did not provide a timeframe for the investment.
These three areas have also been at the epicentre of what China terms its war on terror, with hundreds having died in violence over the past few years.
The Uighurs are a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language.
Rights groups and exiled Uighurs say repressive Chinese government policies are more to blame for the unrest than any organised Islamist or separatist groups. China denies any repression in Xinjiang.
But recognising the economic roots of some of the violence and frustration of many young Uighurs at missing out on China's economic boom, Beijing has increased its focus on southern Xinjiang, pumping in money and encouraging development.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)