The education and training efforts in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are a righteous and innovative measure taken by authorities to eradicate the root causes of terrorism and religious extremism and stop violent terrorist activities from happening. However, such good efforts are demonised and attacked by the United States. The US House of Representatives has passed so-called the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. This bill deliberately smears the human rights condition in Xinjiang, slanders China’s efforts in de-radicalisation and counter-terrorism and viciously attacks the Chinese government’s Xinjiang policy. It seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations, and grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs.
Do the efforts of Xinjiang violate the human rights of the Vyghur people in Xinjiang? Definitely no!
For quite some time, terrorism and religious extremism plagued swaths of Xinjiang, victimising innocent civilians and police and endangering social stability and ethnic unity. Drawing experience from other countries, implementing the United Nations’ 2015 “Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism” calling on countries worldwide to broaden their responses, engage earlier and address the drivers of violent extremism such as poverty, lack of socio-economic opportunities, as well as distortion and misuse of beliefs, and taking into consideration the local conditions, the Government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region set up vocational education and training centers to help people who are deceived by or have even joined terrorist forces and committed minor offenses to get rid of extremist ideologies, through courses including national language, law, vocational skills and de-radicalisation.
Such efforts of Xinjiang are fully in line with the basic principles clearly defined in the international conventions and initiatives, and have contributed to the global actions against terrorism and extremism, demonstrating China’s firm commitment in this regard. Preventative in nature, the measure has also been practised in line with the spirit and requirements of the rule of law in China. It tackles both the symptoms and root causes of terrorism and extremism while fully respecting and protecting human rights in line with law and international practice. Far from being what some US politicians or media outlets called “concentration camps,” the training and education centers serve as a fresh starting point for trainees to emancipate their minds, acquire professional skills and improve their future prospects.
Vocational education and training has proved an effective tool in fighting terrorism and extremism. No terrorist incidents have occurred in Xinjiang for three years. Local people have gained a stronger sense of security and happiness. And the region has attracted a soaring number of tourists, with nearly 200 million in the first 10 months of 2019, up by 43 percent year-on-year.
As for the human rights situation in Xinjiang, facts speak louder than words. The Central Government of China has always attached great importance to boosting the region’s stability and development, and improving the well-being of the 25 million people living there. Over the past 64 years since the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was established, its economy has been developing by leaps and bounds, and millions of local people have been lifted out of poverty. Despite the US relentless smear campaign, Xinjiang’s human rights record has won growing global recognition. Since the end of last year, dozens of groups of foreign envoys, UN officials and representatives of international organizations, media outlets and religious groups have visited Xinjiang, and the comprehensive measures taken by the regional government of Xinjiang and the tangible results in combating terrorism and extremism have gained extensive appreciation and support.
The above-mentioned efforts are also in line with the spirit of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The session adopted a very important document named the CPC Central Committee’s Decision on Some Major Issues Concerning How to Uphold and Improve the System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Advance the Modernization of China’s System and Capacity for Governance.
The US vicious attack on China will not prevent China from making progress and will be doomed to failure. We, the Chinese people with the people of different ethnic groups in Xinjiang included will resolutely carry out the spirit of the session and make Xinjiang a safer, more prosperous and more beautiful place.
Chu Maoming, is China’s Consul General in Lagos, Nigeria