URUMQI, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- A media group from 16 countries praised the rural development, anti-terrorism and deradicalization efforts of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region after visiting the area.
The media executive seminar for countries along the "Silk Road" Economic Belt, hosted by China's State Council Information Office, was held from Aug. 17 to 23 in Xinjiang, involving 20 media representatives from 16 countries including Afghanistan, India, Japan, Russia and Turkey. Besides attending lectures and seminars, they also conducted in-depth interviews in Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Kashgar and Aksu prefectures.
RURAL AND ECOLOGICAL PROGRESS
More than three decades ago, Kekeya in Aksu Prefecture was a desert with sparse vegetation. It lies at the northwestern edge of the Taklimakan Desert.
In 1986, Aksu launched an afforestation project in Kekeya to help restore the local ecosystem. About 13.4 million trees were planted, and the forest coverage rate has risen to 6.8 percent. The local fruit production has greatly improved farmers' income.
The media executives were deeply impressed by the rural development and effective ecological preservation in Xinjiang.
Akram A. R. Abu Al Hannoud, director of the foreign affairs department of Al Bayan newspaper from the United Arab Emirates, said it was "very impressive" how the project turned the desert into an oasis.
"I have seen their great efforts and the efforts of the local government to increase their income. It's a very good example of how human development can be realized while the ecological environment is restored," Akram A. R. Abu Al Hannoud said.
"Thanks to the improved environment, farmers have increased their incomes. Aksu produces such good apples and there is a good chance that the region's apples will also be sold in winter markets in Kazakhstan," said Kazhyken Saltanat, deputy editor-in-chief of Tenge Observer, a newspaper in Kazakhstan.
China has been doing a good job in building a more eco-friendly economy and protecting its environment, according to Yokoshima Daisuke, director of Nippon Television Network's China bureau, from Japan.
The group also visited the Kashgar Ancient Town, a key tourist site with renovated houses and shops keeping their distinctive ethnic style, thanks to hefty government investment.
The supportive and protective measures taken by the Chinese government are of great importance to improving the living conditions of the local people, which include developing tourism and renovating rural residents' houses and protecting ethnic cultures, according to Mansoor Faizy, editor-in-chief of the Afghan Times.
"It really is a good initiative, because the rural people and poor people can develop their lifestyles and improve their lives," said H. M. Mostofa Kamal, executive editor-in-chief of the Daily Kaler Kantho from Bangladesh.
COUNTER-TERRORISM, DERADICALIZATION EFFORTS
The media staff said that the Chinese government's successful experience in maintaining Xinjiang's stability deserves applause.
The seminar organized for the journalists to visit the Exhibition on Cases of Major Terrorist Attacks and Violent Crimes in Xinjiang.
"The government and the public have worked together to reduce the occurrence of extremism and similar incidents, which has been very effective," said Naveed Aman Khan, a columnist from Pakistan.
The media group visited two vocational education and training centers. At the vocational training center in Wensu County, which is equipped with a movie theater, painting room, reading room, psychological consulting room and other places for recreational activities, the colorful extracurricular activities of the students attracted the attention of the media group.
"The students at the center can choose different curriculums on all kinds of vocational skills. Through these courses, I believe they will live better in the future," said Khan.
It is a positive step for the Chinese government to set up this kind of school to eradicate extremist thoughts, said Saeed Ahmad S. A. Al-Kuwari, news editor of Qatar State News Agency.
Dmitry Kosyrev, political commentator and China expert of Russia Today International News Agency, said that he decided to see the centers for himself after learning about the so-called "concentration camps" as claimed by some Western media.
"I've come and seen that this is just a school, a model for counter-terrorism," he said.
"Today, Russia is also combating terrorism, and we have something to learn from China. We need to cooperate with each other and face up to it together and fight against terrorism through deradicalization. This education model in China could also be an example for other countries to learn from in the future," Kosyrev added.
"After visiting Xinjiang, we have seen and discovered a lot of facts that we had not known before," Akram A. R. Abu Al Hannoud said.