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The 3rd press conference by Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Xinjiang-related issues in Beijing

Photo taken on February 1, 2021 shows the 3rd Press Conference on Xinjiang-related Issues held in Beijing.Photo by Li Rui

SunZhen: This is the third press conference we held here in recent months. Today, we are very glad to have Deputy Director General of CPC Publicity Department of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Xu Guixiang,Spokesperson of Information Office of People’s Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Elijan Anayat to be with us. Besides, here are also representatives of Xinjiang textile industries and religious circles, and some former trainees of vocational education and training centers attending today’s conference. Before start, I’d like to invite Mr.Xu Guixiang to share his words.

Deputy Director General of CPC Publicity Department of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Xu Guixiang answers questions at the 3rd press conference on Xinjiang-related Issues in Beijing,February 1, 2021.Photo by Li Rui

Xu Guixiang:Good morning, friends from the press. I’m very happy meeting you here again. This is the third press conference on Xinjiang-related issues being held in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China. In the previous two conferences, we have conducted deep communication, many media have given objective reporting, making more people know real Xinjiang. Here, I’d like to extend my respect and gratitude!

I have some personal feeling after attending the previous two conferences, and I’d like to share it with you in this opportunity. First, respecting truths. Fact is the life of news, facts speak louder than words. Based on the questions you raised before, I feel that you wanted to know the real situation in Xinjiang; we also gave you answers with the aim of introducing the facts. On this point, we are interlinked. This is the staring point for both of us to communicate Xinjiang-related issues. Second, seeking common points while reserving differences. Though communications, we are glad to see that we have reached consensus on many issues with less and less doubts and misunderstandings. I can be said that we have gained valuable achievement. While, since people have different realization of Xinjiang and different angles of observing things, there may be different opinions to same topics. I hope that we could understand each other and continue our discussion. Third, communicating and exchanging. Issues like anti-terrorism and deradicalization is more than a problem that Xinjiang is facing with, it’s also a worldwide problem. In recently years, Xinjiang has taken great effort to realized the fact that there’s no terrorist attacks in four consecutive years in Xinjiang. It’s uneasy. It’s proved that many actions in Xinjiang are active and effective with referential values. I’d like to suggest to some media that, rather than picking thorns with color glasses, you can calm yourselves and think, how Xinjiang realized stable development and what effective actions have conducted. I hope the cameras of yours spreading Xinjiang’s experience to the whole world, as well as share that of the other countries’ to us. Thank you!

CNN: “forced labor” is one of the reasons why Mr. Pompeo, the former US Secretary of State, claimed that China committed “genocide” and “anti-humanity” crime. His successor, Mr. Blinken, has approved of his claim, and Mr. Biden, the new president of USA,also has expressed similar views. Foreign Ministry spokesman said last week that the officials of the new government of USA were welcome to visit Xinjiang for field investigations which would help them see clearly “the falsifications” of Pomeo and his likes. Will (or how will) Xinjiang government prepare to welcome US government officials of high rank to visit Xinjiang for field investigations free from any interference instead of a publicity tour, to change the identification with Xinjiang-related issues in USA that has transcended party politics? USA officially recognized that China committed “genocide” in Xinjiang and it is estimated that this will incur a larger scale of boycott of Beijing Winter Olympic Games. What is your response?

Xu Guixiang: Pompeo claimed that Xinjiang commited “genocide”and “anti-humanity” crime on the grounds “forced labor” in Xinjiang. This is sheer nonsense, a gross interference in China’s internal affairs and a serious violation of international law and the basic norms of international relations. His so-called recognition is just a piece of waste paper!

As a former US Secretary of State, Pompeo should have showed his concern to the image of a big power and showed his grace as a high-ranking official of a big power. However, it is shocking to see that he openly acknowledged “we lie, we cheat, we steal” as his life credo, of which he is rather ashamed than be proud. Guided by such evil belief, Pompeo fanned the flames, exerted pressure, and engaged in bullying, which brought too much trouble to the world. Pompeo pursued his own selfish interests, turned a blind eye to the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States, which ranks first in the world, turned a deaf ear to the American people’s angry cry of “I can't breathe”. He has brought too many disasters to the United States. Pompeio maliciously fabricated lies, falsely accusing Xinjiang of persecuting the Uygurs people”, “forced labor”, “persecuting Muslims”, “forced sterilization” and “genocide” etc., and has discredited Xinjiang excessively. People all over the world scoff at such a politician who doesn’t even understand the basic principles and common sense, and who is afraid that the world will not be in chaos. The American people hate him, and the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang also hate him. Recently, the indignant masses of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang severely condemned Pompeo and his likes. using the facts of development and prosperity, social stability, and people’s life and work in peace in Xinjiang, people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang effectively exposed Pompeo’s ill and ugly behavior. I believe you have seen it on the Internet. Pompeo is totally to blame for the end of such a street mouse that everyone shouts to kill.

As for Pompey's intention of staging the farce of “doomsday madness”, the whole world have watched it clearly. In my opinion, on the one hand, he did not want to see the good situation in Xinjiang, but he was unable to stop it, so he carried out hysterical attacks by all means. On the other hand, his purpose is to set obstacles for the new US government to adopt proper attitude towards China. According to the New York Times, the last thing Pompeo did before handing over power was to make the job of the next Secretary of State as difficult as possible. According to the Financial Times, Pompeo is trying to check Biden’s team through a “diplomatic blitz” to prevent Biden from taking practical action on foreign policy after he takes office. We believe that the international community can see through Pompeo’s sinister intention of his “magical manipulation”.

As a matter of fact, Xinjiang’s Uygur population has been increasing. According to data, during 2010-2018, Xinjiang’s permanent residents increased by 3.0518 million(13.99%) from 21.8158 million to 24.8676 million. Among that, ethnic minorities population increased by 2.8749 million (22.14%) from 12.9859 million to 15.8608 million; Uygur population was up 2.5469 million (25.04%)from 10.1715 million to 12.7184 million; Han population rose by 0.1769 million (2%) from 8.8299 million to 9.0068 million. Uygur’s population growth rate was not only higher than Xinjiang’s population growth rate, but also higher than that of ethnic minorities and even higher than Han’s. Is it also the results of “genocide”?

In a few days ago, I found a piece of hot video in Chinese Tik Tok, showing how a 91-year-old granny telling her opinions on “genocide” claimed by Pompeo. Let’s see it.

The recognition of “forced labor” in a country or region is not based on Pompeo’s subjective assumption. The term “forced labor” has long been clearly defined by the international community. The Forced Labor Convention adopted by the General Conference of the International Labor Organization in 1930 defines “forced or compulsory labour” as “all work or services which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”. However, workers of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang choose their occupations according to their own wishes. In accordance with The Labor Law of The People’s Republic of China and other laws and regulations, and on the principle of equality and voluntariness, they sign labor contracts with concerning and obtain corresponding remuneration. They also enjoy freedom in choosing employment places. The rights of workers of all ethnic groups, such as the right to remuneration, the right to rest and vacation, the right to labor safety and health protection, and the right to social insurance and welfare, are protected in accordance with the law. No matter in Xinjiang or other provinces, their rights and interests concerning religious belief, ethnic culture, and language etc. are also respected and protected in accordance with law. Where is the “forced labor” fabricated by Pompeo?

Next, I’d like to invite Akbar Abulat, an migrant worker from Aksu Prefecture, to share his opinions.

Akbar Abulat,a migrant worker from Aksu answers questions at the 3rd press conference on Xinjiang-related Issues in Beijing,February 1, 2021.Photo by Li Rui

Akbar Abulat:My name is Akbar Abulat. I’m 27 years old, I’m from Aksu, now working in a feed factory.

After graduated from junior college, I saw a recruitment information of feed factory online, the payment was decent, then I went to apply for the job. The company and me sign labor contract and I received 5000 yuan of salary each month. Annual fee of five insurances and pensions were paid, which was more than 4000 yuan. The conditions in our company is great, we have heaters in production workshops. In cold winter, the temperature keeps at 26 ℃ and higher. In our dorms, we have water heaters, TVs, separate toilets, it’s just like living in hotel. In our canteen, the meals are delicious, we have mutton, beef, vegetables and eggs. We work eight hours a day with break in weekend. After duty, I will be with my besties to hanging around and watching movies. When I first arrived the factory, I was a normal employee. But I worked very hard, I learned management knowledge in spare time by myself. Now I am the middle-level manager, in charge of daily works and logistics service, I’m kind of a white collar now. I’ve set a goal for myself, to purchase an apartment and buy some jewelries to propose to my girlfriend.

Recently, we’ve noticed that the US former Secretary of State Pompeo claimed that ethnic groups in Xinjiang is going through “forced labor”, this is nonsense. We go to work to earn money in order to make our life better, no one has forced us and we don’t need to be forced. Would you mind taking a message to Pompeo, all the Xinjiang locals dislike him very much, he should not keep on making lies.

Xu Guixiang:As to your question of inviting officials of the new US government to visit Xinjiang. I would like to say that Xinjiang is following the right path in the world. Everything it has done is open and honest. There is nothing that can not be open. We welcome US officials, including the officials of new US government, to take a walk and have a look in Xinjiang, so as to understand the real situation in Xinjiang in case that you would be blinded by Pompeo’s lies. But we also have the bottom line of our principle, and we will never accept any so-called “investigation” of presumption of guilt. We’ve been constantly working on the definited visits to Xinjiang of EU ambassadors to China, keeping close contacts with them and arranging considerately to show our greatest sincerity. We hope they will come to visit as possible.

Associated Press:Officials have said that the labor transfer program is voluntary, but on visits to one of the factories involved in the program - Nanchang O-Film in 2019, we discovered that the Uygur workers are restricted from praying or leaving the factory compound, which according to the International Labor Organization is a clear violation of labor rights and an indicator of forced labor. This is according to our first-hand eyewitness information and is not based on second-hand testimony. Can you please explain to us why these Uygur workers were not allowed to leave the factory grounds and why they are having their freedom of movement restricted in this way?

Spokesperson of Information Office of People’s Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Elijan Anayat answers questions at the 3rd press conference on Xinjiang-related Issues in Beijing,February 1, 2021.Photo by Li Rui

Elijan Anayat: In the implementation of the labor transfer program, Xinjiang government has always been complying with the principle of voluntariness, and has never imposed this program on anyone. In practical work, governments at all levels actively build employment information platforms, contact employers in the inland provinces, and collect and sort out job information, timely publishing it through human resource market, public employment service institutions, public employment service network platform, radio, television, village community bulletin boards and other channels, so as to provide information and other services for workers’ voluntary employment and free choice of employment. Workers of all ethnic groups can learn about recruitment information through the human resource market and basic labor security stations, including the climate of the construction site, the types of work, accommodation conditions and salaries of the employing enterprises. After understanding the information, they will sign up voluntarily according to their own situation, including where to go, which enterprise and position to choose. I can tell you responsibly, Xinjiang employees working in mainland enterprises, including Nanchang O-Film, their labor rights and interests are fully protected in accordance with the law, and their personal freedom has never been restricted. They have signed labor contracts with enterprises in accordance with the law, established labor relations protected by law, and enjoyed legal rights such as labor remuneration, rest and vacation, labor safety and health protection, and social insurance and welfare. At the same time, the Federation of Trade Unions of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has also established a two-way legal rights protection mechanism with the Federation of Trade Union of relevant inland provinces and cities to effectively protect the rights and interests of Xinjiang migrant workers in the inland regions, actively guide them to join local trade union organizations, and timely help solve difficult demands. Xinjiang employees work and live well in the inland, and the employment enterprises give them care in all aspects.

As far as this question is concerned, Yusupujiang Yasen who used to work in Nanchang O-Film will talk to us.

Yusupujiang Yasen who used to work in Nanchang O-Film answers questions at the 3rd press conference on Xinjiang-related Issues in Beijing,February 1, 2021.Photo by Li Rui

A migrant worker: Hello, everyone. My name is Yusupujiang Yasen. I come from Akto County, Kizilsu Prefecture. In October, 2017, through a friend’s introduction, I went to work in Nanchang O-Film, mainly doing mobile phone accessory assembly. We signed up labor contract with the company and all our rights and interests got legal protection. The company provided us with free accommodation, electronic appliances and house hold appliances, such as a fridge, an air-conditioner, a washing machine, a hot water heater, a bed of super quality, sofa etc.. The condition is much better than that at my home. The company also gave us free toilet articles, bed sheet and quilt cover. I lived with 3 guys from Kashgar. They happily commented “We are enjoying the accommodation of a Star Hotel”.

When I first arrived at the company, I took part in a 10-day pre-employment training. Through the training, I mastered the assembly skill of mobile phone accessories and learned some dos and don’ts for the job. At the same time, my coach taught me his work experience with demonstrations. At work, I asked others for help whenever I met something that I couldn't understand, and practiced over and over again what I was not skilled at. My coach and my colleagues were very enthusiastic to help me. In less than three months, I turned into a skillful worker. Later, I became a team leader, and my salary increased from 4500 RMB to 5500 RMB. In the company, we work 8 hours a day and we can ask for leave if we think it necessary. In October 2018, when a relative of mine visited Nanchang, I asked for a leave of two days to accompany them to visit Prince Teng Pavilion and other scenic spots. After work, I chatted with my family through weichat video, showing them new clothes and shoes I bought and listening to my parents talking about the household affairs. At weekends, I often asked my colleagues to go shopping and watching movies together. We enjoyed a home leave every year. We took advantage of the home leave to travel, or go back home to accompany our family, and the company covered the travel expenses. The company respected our dieting habits very much. There was a halal canteen in the company and two chefs from Urumqi were hired to cook for us. The company respected our religious beliefs very much. We all know that there is a mosque in Nanchang. After work or during weekends, Muslim colleagues usually went to the mosque to pray and no one has ever interfered.

In August, 2019, I left the company with reluctance and returned home to take care of my parents. In my home town, with the capital of over 90,000 RMB I earned in Nanchang, my father and I started our decoration and renovation business.

XinHua News Agency: Recently, German scholar Adrian Zenz issued an article: “the forced labor in Xinjiang: transferring labors and mobilizing minorities to pick cotton”. The article claimed that “hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority laborers in Xinjiang are being forced to pick cotton by hand through a coercive state-mandated labor transfer and “poverty alleviation” scheme”; “government implemented a massive scheme to meet ongoing manual labor needs by replacing Han migrant cotton pickers with local ethnic minority pickers”; “labor transfers involve coercive mobilization through local work teams, transfers of pickers in tightly supervised groups, and intrusive on-site surveillance by government officials and (in at least some cases) police officers”; “while cotton picking is paid work, it is grueling labor from dawn to dusk and requires full relocation for the harvesting months, and average earnings can be below Xinjiang’s minimum wage level and below publicly stated wages for lowskilled factory work”; “trainings were to adopt a strictly disciplinary management style with an even stronger focus on intrusive political indoctrination and thought education efforts. A key aspect is transforming the minorities’ “backwards” work attitude from ‘I am wanted to work’ to ‘I want to work’”. Are these true? Adrian Zenz also claimed that “coercive labor related to all cotton produced in Xinjiang”, and “the U.S. government should put a Withhold Release Order on any product that contains cotton from any part of Xinjiang, not just cotton produced in XPCC regions”. what’s your opinion on this?

Xu Guixiang: As we all know, although Adrian Zenz is touted by some western media as an "authoritative expert" on the Xinjiang issue, his real identity is an anti-China backbone supported by US intelligence agencies. We have exposed his background many times, and the independent news website "gray zone" and other media have also disclosed that his Xinjiang related reports and lies and fallacies have been repeatedly "beaten in the face" by the facts and the truth. The issue of "Xinjiang's forced labor: transfer of labor and mobilization of ethnic minorities to pick cotton" is not true!

It is not only the basic right of the masses of all ethnic groups, but also the good wish of the masses of all ethnic groups to become rich through labor. There is no such thing as “forced mobilization”. A few years ago, every autumn when cotton was ripe, many Han migrant workers in Henan, Sichuan and other places arrived by train to Xinjiang. They are known as the "cotton picking army", and migrant workers of all ethnic groups will spontaneously go to cotton producing areas to help pick cotton. They worked together, cared for each other and forged a profound friendship. On the basis of equality, voluntariness and consensus, these cotton pickers signed labor contracts with cotton growers and received corresponding remuneration. In the nearly 50-day cotton picking season, the average picker can earn tens of thousands of yuan per person. Why not? It needs to be emphasized that the government has never implemented "cotton pickers". There's no need at all for the inoculation to the attitude from "ask me to work" to "I want to work".

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