What Is Really Happening in Xinjiang
Published by Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan on Sri Lankan Newspaper
22 July 2019
Recently, I was surprised to notice that some politicians and media in the western countries continuously attacked China’s policy in Xinjiang, falsely claiming that a large number of “concentration camps” violating human rights have been established there. But what is the true story?
In Xinjiang have settled as many as 47 ethnic groups, including the Uygur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Tajik etc. Among the 24.4 million population of Xinjiang, nearly 13 million are Muslims. The Chinese government has attached great importance to maintaining the ethnic and religious harmony, as well as the economic and cultural development in Xinjiang. There are 24,400 mosques in Xinjiang by far, which means one mosque shared by every 530 Muslims, an even higher proportion than some Islamic countries. In Xinjiang, television programs are broadcast in multiple languages, and diverse ethnic groups are allowed to use their own languages in lawsuits and election. Chinese, Uygur and Kazak languages are equally available in The National College Entrance Examination. All the facts clearly prove the so-called “oppression of Muslims” a total fake news.
However, such stability and prosperity in Xinjiang is not what some external forces wish to see. Since the 1990s, under the combined infection of separatists, extremists and terrorists, both domestically and internationally, Xinjiang has seen thousands of violent and terrorist crimes, leading to huge casualties of innocent citizens and death of hundreds of policemen. Those terrorists such as “East Turkistan Islamic Movement” have already been identified by UN and many countries as international terrorist organization.
As a precaution measure to fight terrorism, the Chinese government has established vocational training centers in Xijiang, in accordance with the Constitution and the Counter-terrorism Law. These centers are in fact boarding schools, where lessons on national language, laws, vocational training and deradicalization are offered for free, so that trainees can master a skill and achieve self-reliance after the training. It is a common sense that any citizen, no matter in which country, should be able to use the national language; laws of all countries shall not be ignored or even overridden. Lack of access to necessary vocational skills will cause unemployment and poverty, which would become soil nurturing extremist ideas.
In Xinjiang, trainees sign agreements with the training centers, share free food and accommodation, and enjoy all fundamental rights. Trainees can have home visits on regular basis and can ask for leave for personal affairs. Families are also free to visit and to video chat with them.
What is most significant and important is that since the establishment of training centers, no violent or terrorist activity occurred in Xinjiang for more than 25 months, and the overall security has been largely improved there. In the year of 2018, tourists to Xinjiang, from inside and outside China, numbered over 150 million, with a 40 percent growth comparing to the year of 2017.
The international community will no longer easily believe the rumors of western media. On 12th July, 37 countries of diverse regions, nationalities, religions and social systems co-signed a letter to United Nations Human Rights Council, supporting China’s policy in Xinjiang and objecting “politicizing” human rights issue. They speak highly of China’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts in Xinjiang, including the establishment of training centers, which they believe will benefit the security and stability of China, the region and the world. It is worth mentioning that many among these 37 countries are actually Islamic countries.
Because many countries also suffer from terrorism, extremism and separatism, they fully understand that the real problem in Xinjiang is the threat of terrorism, and strongly support China’s anti-terrorism practice in Xinjiang.
About two weeks ago, on 7th July, I had an opportunity to visit Negombo, mourn in the St. Sebastian Church, and visit the children injured in the 21/4 terrorist attacks. I can strongly feel the pain of the Sri Lankan people from all ethnic communities. The attacks reminded us once again that terrorism and extremism are common threats for both China and Sri Lanka. We believe that people from all circles of Sri Lanka society can tell what is right from wrong, and can fully understand China’s efforts in fighting terrorism, extremism and separatism. Let us work together, enhance our cooperation on security and law enforcement, encourage more exchanges between different ethnic and religious groups of our two countries, and uphold peace and safety of our two peoples.