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February 15, 2019

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Absurd accusations ignore basic facts on Xinjiang

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has recently joined some Western politicians and media to vilify China’s efforts to counter terrorism and extremism in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Such groundless accusations must be stopped.

As China has lodged stern representations with Turkey over its foreign ministry’s statement on anti-terrorism efforts of Xinjiang, it is necessary to expose the absurdness of those egregious remarks, distortions and baseless accusations by reviewing the basic facts on ground.

In its statement, Turkey’s foreign ministry voiced its so-called concern about what is going on in Xinjiang, claiming famous Uygur musician Abdurehim Heyit died a year after he was taken into custody. “In fact, he is alive and very healthy,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying responded on Monday, saying the statement was based on an absurd lie and such a move was “extremely wrong and irresponsible.”

It is rather ridiculous and egregious to make such false remarks and point fingers at the domestic affairs of other countries. Obviously, Turkey’s statement utterly disregards some basic facts about Xinjiang.

Xinjiang has made notable progress in its fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism. These three evil forces at home and abroad have plotted, organized and conducted thousands of violent terrorist attacks in Xinjiang since the 1990s, causing massive casualties among innocent people of various ethnic groups.

Drawing on international anti-terrorism experience and considering local circumstances, Xinjiang has exerted great efforts to counter terrorism and extremism through such measures as vocational education training centers. These moves have significantly improved people’s sense of security and happiness in the autonomous region.

If people take an unbiased and objective approach, it is not hard for them to see a real Xinjiang that is making progress in maintaining stability while protecting the rights of the people.

Vocational education and training centers were set up to help people affected by terrorism and extremism to learn languages, study laws and acquire skills so that they can rid themselves of the control of religious extremism and live a better life. This approach addresses both the symptoms and root causes.

A region that was victim to frequent violent terrorist attacks, Xinjiang is much safer now. There has not been a single terrorist attack there in more than two years. People of all ethnic groups have a greater sense of security.

Keeping terrorism away

Stable jobs and decent income are good shields to keep terrorism away.

Vocational education and training centers prepare trainees for modern-day jobs. Courses on clothing and footwear making, food processing, electronic product assembly, typesetting and printing, hairdressing and e-commerce were set up to suit the local job market, according to the regional government.

In addition, multi-skill training is provided to those who have the desire and capability to learn, so that they acquire one to two vocational skills upon course completion. Businesses in garment making, mobile phone assembly and ethnic cuisine catering are arranged to give trainees a chance to practice what they learn and get paid for it. The mechanism in place is for the trainees to “learn, practice and earn money.”

It is ridiculous to demonize such a good-intentioned and results-yielding program as a human rights violation.

People who made vicious accusations often portrayed these counter-terrorism and de-extremism efforts as actions specifically targeting certain ethnic or religious groups. But let it be clear that it is a consistent position of the Chinese government to oppose linking terrorism with any specific ethnic group or religion.

People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang enjoy full freedom of religious belief, the right to use their own spoken and written languages in accordance with the law and have their cultural rights guaranteed by law and fully respected.

Xinjiang has 24,400 mosques for its 13 million Muslims. That means 530 Muslims share one mosque on average, compared to 910 people for one mosque in Turkey, according to China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

Overall, Xinjiang has become richer and more open. Last year, the per capita disposable income of its residents rose by 7.6 percent to a record high of 21,500 yuan (about US$3,176). The region hosted 150 million tourists, up 40 percent from 2017.

The facts about Xinjiang’s anti-terrorism work and religious freedom have also been seen first-hand and recognized by diplomats from 12 countries and media representatives from six countries including Turkey during their visits to Xinjiang in the past two months.

In contrast to how the Turkish foreign ministry had described Xinjiang’s vocational education centers, those diplomats and journalists saw smiling faces of people in different localities in the region.

Terrorism is the common enemy of humanity. Turkey faces terrorism threats, too. And it has been cracking down on Islamic State terrorists. It is the shared responsibility of the international community to counter terrorism.


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