URUMQI, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region lifted 537,000 people out of poverty last year, said regional authorities at the ongoing session of the People's Congress of the region Monday.
A total of 513 villages and three counties in Xinjiang shook off poverty last year, and the region's poverty headcount ratio dropped from 11.57 percent in 2017 to 6.51 percent, said Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, in his government work report.
The work report said absolute poverty was basically eliminated in Xinjiang except in four prefectures in southern Xinjiang -- Hotan, Kashgar, Aksu and Kizilsu Kirgiz.
The region invested over 33.4 billion yuan (4.9 billion U.S. dollars) in poverty relief last year, 92.3 percent of which went to the four prefectures, which sit on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert, the largest desert in China and the second-largest shifting sand desert in the world.
Residents in these prefectures have long been plagued by erratic weather and poverty.
The region also built new houses for 68,900 households in 22 impoverished counties in southern Xinjiang last year.
In a bid to eliminate absolute poverty by 2020, Xinjiang will continue to use relocation as a means of poverty reduction and speed up infrastructure construction in poverty-stricken villages, said Shohrat Zakir.