Xinjiang and the Production and Construction Corps: A Han Organisation in a Non-Han Region

Donald H. McMillen, “Xinjiang and the Production and Construction Corps: A Han Organisation in a Non-Han Region,” The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 6 (1981): 65-96


McMillen argues that, since its establishment in 1954, bingtuan (or the Xinjiang PCC) was instrumental in consolidating Han rule and modernizing the region, and that its status as a largely Han organization operating in a non-Han region was a significant factor in the region’s development.


An important symbol and vehicle of Communist Party of China (CPC) efforts to control and integrate the strategic and traditionally non-Han borderlands of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since liberation in 1949 has been an organisation called the Production and Construction Corps (PCC). By the early 1970s, this hybrid military-civilian organisation could be found in most provinces and regions of China. As a collectivised organisation, the PCC came to reflect a fascinating blend of revolutionary Maoist ideals, such as self-reliance, self-sufficiency and human struggle and self-sacrifice under arduous conditions, and more moderate, pragmatic notions, such as technological expertise and scientific management and development. The first PCC was officially established in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in 1954. To analyse recent organisational changes in the Xinjiang PCC in the context of the post-Mao Zedong policy line under the ‘four modernisations’, it is necessary first to consider the setting and historical conditions of this far western region of China.

Keywords: Bingtuan, Ethnicity, Development