By Jierla Yishamuding, Vice Governor of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
A few days ago, the so-called Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019 was passed by the U.S. Congress, which did its best to slander the human rights condition in Xinjiang, and smear Xinjiang’s counterterrorism and deradicalization efforts. As a Chinese who has been working and living in Xinjiang, I am shocked by the despicable act of disregarding facts and confounding black and white on the part of these American politicians, and even more outraged by their brazen interference in China’s domestic affairs.
Is lawful fight against terrorism and religious extremism a violation or protection of human rights?
As everyone knows, terrorism is a cancer in human society. Terrorists launch frenzied and heartless killings of innocent people regardless of their ethnic background or age through extremely brutal means against humanity. Terrorism is anti-human, anti-society and anti-civilization in nature, and thus a common enemy of all mankind. It has been a consensus of the international community and a shared responsibility of all countries to prevent and combat violent terrorism and religious extremism. For a long term in the past, the three evil forces (namely terrorists, extremists and separatists forces), have launched thousands of violent terrorist attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere, causing heavy innocent casualties and tremendous property damage. All these have done great harm to the people of all ethnic groups in the region. When the innocent people were killed by terrorists, I had never heard a word of concern about human rights in Xinjiang from these American politicians. However, now when the people of all ethnic groups are much better off with continuously enhanced sense of fulfillment, happiness and security, they start to “care about” the human rights condition in Xinjiang. What is their motivation behind this after all?
Xinjiang is a major battlefield in China’s counterterrorism and deradicalization endeavors. It has always upheld the rule of law, resolutely safeguarded constitutional and legal authority, and applied legal thinking and method in addressing problems. We have strictly followed the UN General Assembly’s resolution on Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (60/288）and the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism（70/674）and international anti-terrorism conventions. We also have established a complete counterterrorism legal system at national level. Xinjiang has given full play to the advantage of the system of ethnic regional autonomy and passed series of relevant local regulations based on its own realities, hence ensuring that its counterterrorism and deradicalization efforts have followed the track of the rule of law all along. Thanks to effective measures, Xinjiang has seen no violent terrorist attacks for three consecutive years, with the overall society being stable and harmonious. From January to October this year, Xinjiang has attracted 200 million tourists from home and abroad, up by 42.62 percent year on year. The Chinese and foreign tourists have voted with their feet, demonstrating the opposite of what the American politicians alleged and speaking volumes about Xinjiang’s achievements in countering terrorism and religious extremism.
Is slander on vocational education and training program upholding or sabotaging justice?
With vocational education and training program launched in accordance with law, Xinjiang is doing its utmost to save those who were affected by terrorism and religious extremism, eradicate the soil and conditions that breed terrorism and religious extremism, and protect the citizens’ fundamental human rights from the harm of terrorism and religious extremism. Government at all levels in Xinjiang has never given up those who were affected by religious extremism or committed minor crimes or offenses, but instead, given them an opportunity to receive systematic and free vocational education and training focusing on the country’s common language, legal knowledge, vocational skills and deradicalization. At the education and training centers, the trainees’ personal freedom, living habits, freedom of religious belief, and their basic rights to using their mother tongue and writing system, receiving medical services are fully ensured. Government at all levels have also provided equally preferential policies to the trainees’ families in social security, education, medical service, poverty alleviation, among others, and helped their families solve practical difficulties, so that trainees have less family concern and can focus more on training. At present most of the graduates have found jobs or have started their own businesses with the skills they’ve learned at the centers. When I talked with some of the graduates in my investigation, they told me that they had acquired skills to make a living at the centers and were back on track with normal lives.
Xinjiang’s preventive measures in countering terrorism and extremism are aimed at addressing root causes. They are not different in nature from the counter-terrorist efforts by other countries and regions with the goal of improving human rights. China has always hold an open and transparent stance towards human rights. Since 2019, over 1000 representatives from many countries, the U.S. included, have visited Xinjiang. Among them are diplomats, reporter, scholars and religious leaders. Representatives of over 50 countries, including Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to the UN Office at Geneva co-signed a letter to the president of the UN Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights applauding China’s respect for and protection of human rights in its counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts They have seen that Xinjiang now enjoys sound economic development and social stability. However, some countries, while clamoring for more UN officials to visit Xinjiang, exerted pressure on and interfere with the UN officials who visited Xinjiang. These self-defeating behavior betrayed their political motivations. A few countries, in disregard of the close correlation between counter-terrorism and human rights improvement, tried to interfere in China’s domestic affairs with the so-called Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which is in violation of the basic norms of international law. They claimed the pretension of protecting human rights for Uygur people, but they are actually depriving those affected by religious extremism of their rights to learn legal knowledge, China’s common language and vocational skills, and their rights to life and development. It actually linked Uygur people with terrorism, and left them outside the great Chinese family with ill intentions. Xinjiang people have better say than anyone else about Xinjiang. Any attempt to slander the achievements in Xinjiang and to interfere China’s internal affairs will only end hurting themselves.
What is the motivation behind linking human rights of Uygur people with religious extremism?
Xinjiang is inhabited by multiple ethnic groups composed of believers in multiple religions. The citizens’ freedom of religious belief is protected and guaranteed by China’s Constitution. In line with the Regulations on Religious Affairs issued by the State Council, we have published the Regulations of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Religious Affairs. Every citizen enjoys the freedom to choose to be religious or not, and which religion they believe in. No citizen has been subject to discrimination or unfair treatment due to his religious belief in Xinjiang. The state protects normal religious activities. In recent years, in particularly, mosques in Xinjiang have been equipped with running water, electricity, natural gas, radio and television facilities and libraries. Roads leading to mosques have been paved to make access easier. Bathing equipment and flushing toilets have been installed in Juma mosques. Other facilities newly installed or added to mosques include medical supplies, LED screens, computers, electric fans or air conditioners, fire-fighting equipment, drinking water facilities, shoe coverings or automatic dispenser of shoe coverings, and lockers. All this has greatly improved the conditions of venues for religious activities and better satisfy the reasonable religious demands of believers. What is the true motive of some of the Western politician to turn a blind eye to all the situations mentioned above? I used to be in charge of ethnic and religious works and upheld the principle of “protecting the lawful, prohibiting the unlawful, curbing extremism, resisting infiltration and combating crimes”. We never equate a handful of criminals with any religions or ethnicity.
The religious extremism raises the banner of Islamism, however, it goes against the Islamic doctrines. It is no Islamism at all. For a long time, extremists were selling religion bundled with to the masses of religious believers, and touted heresies like “jihad and martyrdom as the way to Heaven”. As a result, some people are turned into extremist and terrorist by spiritual manipulation, or even monsters who kill without blinking. Currently, some U.S. Congress members and politicians take “human rights” and “regions” as pretext for finger pointing, which will only embolden the “three evil forces”. They can never stop creating chaos in Xinjiang. All of these expose their shameless and selfish practice of double standards as well as hypocritical hegemonic logic.
Is the improvement of people’s well-being and social harmony violation or protection of human rights?
Faced with severe and complex problems, Xinjiang has upheld socialism with the rule of law as well as the principle of counter terrorism and de-radicalization of international communities. Through unremitting efforts, we have regained overall social harmony and stability, steady economic development, continuing improvement of people’s living standards, harmonious relationships among all ethnic groups and comprehensive progress of all undertakings. Seizing the opportunity of harvesting continuous dividends of stability, Xinjiang implement people-centered development idea. In the light of specific conditions, we focus on industries with comparative advantage, promote the rural revitalization and unswervingly ensure and improve people’s well-being. For a long term, more than 70% of financial expenditure is spent on people’s livelihood to promote employment, education, health care and so on. There are 3-year employment program in southern Xinjiang covering 100,000 people. The labor force of poverty-stricken families has been relocated for employment, benefiting up to 7,500 people. From 2016 to 2018, over 1.4 million urban jobs were created in urban area ; more than 8.3 million jobs have been created for rural surplus labor force relocated for employment; rural preschool 3-year free education and 15-year free education in southern Xinjiang was implemented; Free physical examinations were offered along with universal coverage of personal accident insurance and critical illness insurance; the social security system continuously improved; subsistence allowance of urban and rural residents with financial difficulties continuously improved. People’s living standard improves consistently. People of all ethnic groups have a much stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security with more solid mass foundation for the work of counter terrorism and maintaining stability. The livelihood improvements, development efforts, civilization progress and governance effectiveness are obvious to all. Wearing “tainted glasses” or adopting “double standards” is to cover up the truth for some ulterior purposes It constitutes partiality and indulgence which supports terrorism and extremism. All of there go against the international morality and human conscience. The unjust action that finds little support is doomed to fail.
On an earth ridden with regional conflicts and all kinds of violence, the peace and stability in Xinjiang are not easily won. People’s happiness is the supreme human right. Some countries shall stop wasting time on interfering with China’s domestic affairs, which shall only be minded by the Chinese people. We cherish the our happy life and we’d like the whole wold to feel the delightful changes in Xinjiang with stability and development. 1.4 billion Chinese people, including people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, would like to build the human community with a common future and share happiness together with the whole world.