|Press Conference on Xinjiang_Regional autonomy for ethnic minorities in Xinjiang_2020.04.29|
Regional autonomy for ethnic minorities
Q 1. Ethnic unity is the lifeblood of all ethnicities. What Xinjiang has done to promote ethnic unity and what results have been achieved?
A: Xinjiang fully implements the ethnic policies of China and upholds ethnic equality. United and working together for common development and prosperity, all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are committed to the Family of Ethnic Unity program and ethnic solidarity strengthening deeds and activities, earnestly promoting harmonious coexistence, development and mutual help among all ethnicities.
First, uphold ethnic equality and share the benefits of reform and opening up. Throughout Xinjiang, all ethnic groups, regardless of their population, development and religious belief, are equal and entitled to all legal rights, including participating in management of national affairs, the freedom of religious belief, receiving education, using their ethnic spoken and written languages, carrying on their traditional ethnic cultures. We insist all ethnic groups equally enjoy the economic and social development achievements, earmarking 70% of the general annual fiscal revenue for guaranteeing and improving the people's livelihood through an array of benefiting-people projects in employment, culture, education and medical care. On employment front, a dynamic mechanism has been put in place to ensure at least one member of zero-employment families employed. On education front, we are pushing for integrative development of rural-urban education and the enrollment rate of schooling children in compulsory education hovers at 99.9%. On top of the universal nine-year compulsory education regionwide, all students in southern Xinjiang enjoy extended free education: the three-year preschool education plus 12-year elementary education. On health and medical care, yearly free physical examination has been universal to all residents in Xinjiang, and the participation rates of basic medical insurance, old-age pension and major illness insurance for impoverished people have all reached full coverages. From 2014 to end of 2019, Xinjiang lifted a total of 2.9232 million people in 737,000 households out of poverty, and the poverty headcount ratio dropped from 19.4% in 2014 to 1.24%. By 2020, all the poverty-stricken rural population will be lifted out of poverty by current standards so as to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
Second, continuous efforts have been made to deepen programs for ethnic unity and solidarity. Since 2016, people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have carried out extensive activities to promote solidarity among various ethnic groups such as the campaign of "Family of Ethnic Unity", in which more than 1.1 million officials have paired up with over 1.6 million families of people of different ethnic groups as friends and "relatives" to actively guide the people to change outdated ideas, broaden ways to increase income, and to help them solve difficulties in seeing doctors, employment, schooling and other aspects of life and work. Over the past three years, the paired-up officials have donated more than 987 million yuan and over 51.12 million items to their "relatives", and done more than 18.77 million practical and good deeds for them, winning wide recognition of the people of all ethnic groups. Many of the people expressed that "since we paired up with good 'relatives' like these officials, we have got someone to help us when we have difficulties and to listen to our minds. We are just like one family. We need such relatives."
However, some overseas media blatantly slandered and attacked Xinjiang's campaign of "Family of Ethnic Unity" as "targeting at monitoring the Uygur people", "asking ethnic Han men to sleep with local women in the same room". This is sheer nonsense, and fully reveals the despicable and gloomy psychology of these media. Here, I would like to share two stories with you. Please watch the video.
Third, a wide range of activities have been carried out to promote ethnic unity and progress. We have included advancement of ethnic unity and progress into overall arrangement and implementation of socio-economic development plan, and the task of heightening public awareness of ethnic solidarity and progress into the whole process of educating the nationals, the officials and the society. Consistent efforts have been made in ethnic unity education and promotion activities in government agencies, villages, communities, schools, enterprises, military camps, regiment farms and religious venues. All these aim to make the awareness of ethnic unity and progress as well as the concept of a community of shared future for the Chinese nation take root in all trades and fields, and enhance close ethnic unity and solidarity. So far, nine prefectures and cities in Xinjiang have been named by the National Ethnic Affairs Commission as "national model prefectures (cities) for ethnic unity and progress", 59 units and 14 bases have been named as "national model units and educational bases for ethnic unity and progress". Through the promotion endeavors, we have enhanced contacts, exchanges and interactions among different ethnic groups and strengthened their bonds. People from all walks of life, including officials, workers, farmers, soldiers, students and community residents, have all started from their own words and deeds to attentively cherish and pass on the value of ethnic unity and the philosophy that all Chinese nation is of one family.
Q 2. What concrete measures has Xinjiang taken in terms of cultivating and employing ethnic minority officials? Some overseas media claim that "ethnic minority officials are marginalized in Xinjiang". Is it true?
A: China has always attached great importance to selecting, cultivating and employing ethnic minority officials and professionals. Since the establishment of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, we have cultivated a large number of excellent officials from ethnic minority groups through training, study, grass-root practice, exchange programs between different places, position swap and other forms, thus providing strong intellectual support for the regional economic and social development. Since 1954, the central government has specially launched training sessions for Xinjiang-native ethnic minority officials, which have already trained 4,635 officials at or above county-head/division-chief level. Among them, 2,771 are ethnic minorities, accounting for 60% of the total. Since 1992, the central government has also launched a special program on cultivating key science and technology talents for ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. As of 2019, the program had trained a total of more than 5,900 medium-to-high level ethnic minority technology professionals urgently needed in the region. In recent years, Xinjiang selected and sent 1,483 officials in 29 batches for secondment in national institutions at all levels and relatively developed areas, Among them, 758 are ethnic minority officials, accounting for 51.1%.
Statistics by the end of 2019 shows that Xinjiang has a total of 427,000 ethnic minority officials who play important roles in administration, economy, education, science and technology, public health, culture and other fields. At present, the governor of Xinjiang, heads of ethnic autonomous prefectures and heads of ethnic autonomous counties are all served by citizens from the ethnic group exercising the autonomy in the area concerned. The vast majority of commissioners of prefectural administrative offices, mayors, county heads and district heads are served by ethnic minority officials, too. A number of ethnic minority officials also work as the Party secretary of CPC organizations at all levels in the region. Moreover, a group of ethnic minority officials hold leading positions in the central and state organs. Ethnic minorities take up 64.2% of the total number of deputies to the 13th Xinjiang Regional People's Congress, and 46.7% of the 13th CPPCC Xinjiang Committee. The so-called allegation that "ethnic minority officials are marginalized in Xinjiang" is all calumny and slander with ulterior motives.
Q 3. What work has Xinjiang done in respecting and protecting the customs of all ethnic groups? Some overseas media claim that Xinjiang "forbids ethnic minorities to wear their ethnic costume, forces them to celebrate the Spring Festival, and forces removal of all 'Muslim' signs". Is it true?
A: The Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy both prescribe that all ethnic groups have the freedom to maintain or reform their customs and habits. Xinjiang strictly follows the constitutional and legal provisions and fully protects the dietary, celebration, wedding and funeral rituals, and other customs of all ethnic groups. In order to ensure the special food supply for ethnic minorities, especially that for Muslim minorities, we have taken a series of measures, such as requiring all big and medium sized cities as well as small towns where there are Muslim people to maintain certain numbers of Muslim restaurants, building Muslim canteens or restaurants on main roads and in organizations that have ethnic minority employees, supplying Muslim people with beef and lamb that are butchered and processed according to Muslim habits, and stored, transported and sold separately. As all ethnic groups have their own traditional festivals, they can also enjoy legal holidays and special festive food supply on their festivals such as Corban Festival and Id al-Fitr. Among ethnic minorities who have the habit of burial, the government does not promote cremation, instead it takes specific measures to protect their habit, such as allocating special land for cemeteries. The government also has no restrictions on ethnic customs of wedding and funeral ceremonies, circumcision and giving Islamic names.
The allegations that Xinjiang "forbids ethnic minorities to wear their ethnic costume, forces them to celebrate the Spring Festival, and forces removal of all 'Muslim' signs" are ridiculous, and are intended to destroy solidarity and create estrangement and misunderstanding among different ethnic groups. In Xinjiang, everyone has the right to freely choose their clothing without any interference from outside. You can see people of all ethnic groups wearing colorful ethnic costumes singing, dancing, or strolling everywhere. The Spring Festival is a traditional festival of the Chinese nation, and all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are members of the big family of the Chinese nation, so it is only natural that we celebrate the festival together, which is also the common wish of the ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang. On the Spring Festival, all ethnic groups in the region paste the Spring Festival couplets, make dumplings and set off fireworks with overflowing joy. How come the claim of forcing the people? We have taken active steps to regulate the Muslim food production and operation. All restaurants that meet the Muslim food management regulations hang "Muslim food" signs. There is no such thing as "forcing removal of all 'Muslim' signs". Anyone who has visited Xinjiang knows that Muslim restaurants can be seen everywhere in the streets.
Q 4:What measures have Xinjiang taken to ensure the rights of using and developing their own languages? It has been heard that the purpose of promoting learning and using standard Chinese is to assimilate ethnic minorities, what is your comment on this?
A: It is prescribed in the Constitution and the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language that Chinese citizen has the right to learn and use standard spoken and written Chinese language, and the country should provide conditions to facilitate learning and using the standard Chinese language while protecting by law ethnic people's rights to use and develop their own languages.
Currently, ethnic languages are extensively used in different areas such as including education, judicature, administration and social public affairs. For example, there are ethnic languages curricular in primary and middle schools with classes of Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Mogolian and Xibe taught.
Multi-language signs and texts could be seen everywhere in Xinjiang, such as commercial tablets, postal and telecommunication service, medical and health care institutions, and public traffic signs, etc.
When public affairs is carried out in various levels of administrative agencies, both spoken and written Chinese language and the spoken and written languages of the ethnic group who exercises ethnic autonomy in certain area will be used at the same time.
Xinjiang People's Broadcasting Station broadcasts 12 sets of programs in five languages of Uygur, Chinese, Kazak, Mongolian and Kirgiz, and Xinjiang TV broadcasts 12 channels in four languages of Uygur, Chinese, Kazak and Kirgiz, which are of great convenience for the production, life, work and study for various ethnic groups of Xinjiang.
We've noticed that some American and Western politicians and media smeared Xinjiang, saying that promotion and use of standard national language is to dilute the local ethnic groups' consciousness. This is absolute nonsense. It may well be asked, there is always some Chinese, English or any other language learning fever in the international community, do these language learners forget about their own mother tongues and cultures for learning a foreign language?
Q 5: What are the measures of protecting and carrying forward excellent traditional cultures of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang in the process of Chinese culture promotion? Are there situation of assimilation and alienation existing in Xinjiang?
A: The various ethnic groups of China have created a long history and a splendid coulter together. And various ethnic cultures of Xinjiang have their roots in the fertile soil of Chinese civilization, advancing their own cultural development while enriching the overall culture of China. Since the founding of People's Republic of China, the ethnic groups of Xinjiang influence, appreciate, and integrate with each other and develop together in language, diet, costume, music, dance, painting, architecture and other aspects of social life, culture and art. Xinjiang is often praised as the hometown of songs and dances; and its people are good at singing and dancing with deep affection for the hometown, people and great motherland in their bloods. Our Motherland Is a Garden, Xinjiang, a Good Place and other classic songs are heard around the country; Visitors on the Icy Mountain, Uncle Kurban Visits Beijing and other quality films have become widely known and regarded as the spiritual treasure created by all ethnic groups and shared by all.
While promoting and carrying forward the Chinese culture, we have always attached great importance on protection and development of traditions and cultures of ethnic groups.
Firstly, culture heritages of various ethnic groups are protected. A group of famous architectures and historical culture heritages of Uygur, Mongolian, Hui and Xibe, such as the Apak Khoja Mazar(mausoleum) in Kashi city , Tughluq Temur Khan Mazar in Huocheng county. Lama Temple in Zhaosu county, Mongolian Lord Mansion in Hejing county, Tohlak Manor in Qiemo county, etc, have all been given prompt and proper repair and protection. Uygur Muqam and Kirgiz epic Manas were registered on the "UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" and "List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding".
Secondly, the folk traditions and cultures are preserved. Traditional cultural events, such as the Uygur's Meshrep, the Kazak's Aytes, the Kirgiz's Kobuz Ballad Singing Fair, the Mongolian Nadam Fair, the Xibe's West Moving Festival, and the Han people's Lantern Festival, have been wildly held. A number of impressive dreams that reflecting the great changes of the times with rich ethnic and regional characteristics have been staged, such as the Uygur play Gherip and Senem, the Kazak Aytes, Kirgiz Manaschi ballad drama Manas.
Thirdly, traditional games and sports have been developed. We have resumed 280 traditional ethnic sports games in Xinjiang and ethnic sports games in various forms are held in non-farming periods and traditional festival celebrations with spectacular ethnic features. Among others, there are wrestling, swing, scrambling for the lamb, horse racing, and dawaz (tightrope walking),etc.. And people will al participate in the events for competitions and sports exchanges regardless of their ethnicities.
Numerous facts have proved that the brilliant Chinese culture is created by all ethnic groups of China. Cultures of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang are well preserved, protected and promoted in the big Chinese hundred-flower garden of cultures. There is no such a thing as so-called assimilation and alienation of ethnic traditional cultures in Xinjiang.
Q 6 : Respecting and protecting freedom of religious belief is a basic policy of the Chinese government. What has the government done to protect citizens' right to freedom of religious belief?
A: According to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, "citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief", "the state protects nomral religious activities", and "no State organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe or not believe in any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe or don't believe in any religion." These stipulations serve as the legal basis for protecting citizens' rights to freedom of religious belief, administering religious affairs in accordance with the law, and building a positive and healthy religious relationship. Xinjiang has also made local regulations on religious affairs to protect freedom of religious belief of all ethnic groups. In Xinjiang, all citizens enjoy equal political, economic, social and cultural rights. It is totally up to the citizens themselves to choose to believe or not believe in any religion. All normal religious activities including attending religious services, fasting and celebrating religious festivals that the believers conduct at religious venues or at home in accordance with customary religious practices are protected by law, independently managed by religious groups and the believers themselves with no interference from any organization or individual.
Xinjiang now has more than 24,000 mosques with 29,000 Islamic clergies, one mosque for every 500 Muslims, thus effectively meeting normal religious demand of the Muslim people. We have kept improving the public service conditions of mosques. With government funds, 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. Ablution facilities and flushing toilets have been installed in Juma mosques. Other facilities newly installed or added to mosques include medical services, LED screens, computers, electric fans or air conditioners, fire-fighting equipment, drinking water facilities, shoe coverings or automatic dispenser of shoe coverings, and lockers. The Xinjiang regional government has allocated special funds for renovating mosques, which was applauded by religious personages and the believers. Religious classics and books have been translated and published, including the Koran and Irshad al-Sari li Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, in Chinese, Uygur, Kazak and Kirgiz languages. Channels for believers to gain religious knowledge have been expanded. We have established the Xinjiang Islamic Institute and its eight branches that train reserve imams, thus ensuring healthy and orderly inheritance of Islam. Since 1996, the Xinjiang government has arranged chartered flights to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every year for organized Hajj trips of the local Muslims, and offered services and assistance to the Hajj groups, such as medical and translation services. Up to now, it has organized more than 50,000 local Muslims to make pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia.
Q 7 : Could you please elaborate on how Xinjiang manages religious affairs in accordance with the law and ensures orderly conduct of normal religious activities?
A: In accordance with laws and regulations and the principle of "protecting lawful activities, curbing illegal actions, containing extremism, resisting infiltration, and preventing and punishing crimes", Xinjiang manages religious affairs, protects people's freedom of religious belief, and ensures that normal religious activities proceed in an orderly way. Xinjiang has sped up local legislation by promulgating and amending a series of regulations, including the Regulations of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Religious Affairs, the Provisional Regulations of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on the Administration of Sites for Religious Activities, the Provisional Regulations of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on the Administration of Religious Activities and the Provisional Regulations of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on the Administration of Religious Staff, which define the rights and obligations of religious organizations, religious staff and venues for religious activities.
Religious venues in Xinjiang shall go through registration formalities with the government in accordance with the law, and they get legal status once registered. The venues enjoy the right to establish democratic management organizations, manage their internal affairs, organize and conduct religious activities, receive donations, manage and use property, and initiate public welfare programs. The legitimate rights and interests of the venues are protected by law, and no infringement or intervention by any organization or individual is allowed. Anyone that enters the venues must follow the management regulations and respect the religious staff and believers. Normal religious activities in Xinjiang are protected by law. Religious organizations are responsible for coordinating internal religious affairs, and the government shall not interfere. Clerics in Xinjiang enjoy the right to preside over religious activities and ceremonies, and may receive social and individual donations. The Chinese government prohibits any organization or individual from splitting the country, disseminating extremist religious thoughts, inciting ethnic hatred, undermining ethnic solidarity, disturbing social order, or impairing citizens' physical and mental health in the name of religion, and punishes illegal and criminal activities in the guise of religion according to law.
Functional departments of governments at different levels have attached equal importance to management and service, helped religious groups and institutions improve the conditions of working and school operation, and reduced potential safety hazards at religious venues. The religious affairs departments of governments above county level manage religious affairs within their jurisdiction according to law, while other administrative departments are responsible for administration related to religious affairs within the scope of their duties according to law. Whoever infringes upon lawful rights and interests of religious groups, religious activities, religious staff and religious believers shall bear legal corresponding legal liabilities. If the case constitutes crimes, criminal responsibility shall be investigated. The standing committees of the people's congresses at all levels supervises the administration of religious affairs in accordance with law.
We noticed that some politicians and media in the United States slandered that Xinjiang's legal adiministration over religious affairs has restricted the religious belief of Uygur people or Muslims. Herby, I have to emphasize that it is standard international practice to manage religious affairs according to law. Practices have proven that our religious policy is in line with China's national conditions and the realities of Xinjiang. Freedom of religious belief prescribed by the Constitution has been fully implemented in Xinjiang. The situation of religious freedom in Xinjiang today is incomparable to any historical period, and will not be denied by anyone who respects the facts. We firmly oppose politicizing religious issues and using religious issues as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
Q 8: It is learned that a lot of work has been done in cultivating and caring about religious staff in Xinjiang. Could any religious staff brief us on that?
A: The government attaches great importance to the cultivation of Islam clergies. In September 2017, a new campus of Xinjiang Islam Institute completed construction. Beside, the institute also has 8 branches around the region, such as those in Yili, Urumqi, Hotan and Kashgar. We have helped improve the working and school conditions of these intuitions. In 2019 alone, more than 600 students graduated from Xinjiang Islam Institute and its branch schools, and their newly enrolled students reached over 1000. It is fair to say that the systematic training in the religious institutions has cultivated a number of high-caliber students, thus ensuring sound and orderly inheritance of Islam in the region. The government has realized full coverage of yearly free physical examination, medical insurance, endowment insurance, critical illness insurance, personal accident insurance and basic living allowance for all religious staff, and increased their living allowance. The students at Xinjiang Islam Institute and its branches can get 600 yuan of board expenses per person per month during their studies on the campuses. The accommodation of poverty-stricken students is totally free of charge, and 90% of the students can enjoy 4,000 yuan of scholarship or subsidies. After graduation, most of them will become religious staff for mosques across the region, and can also enjoy certain amount of living allowance. As a religious staff grown up in Xinjiang where enjoys religious harmony, I have witnessed that all ethnic groups' right to freedom of religious belief has been fully respected and protected, and that religious activities have been carried out in an orderly manner.
I heard recently that some politicians and media in the United States spread rumors that "Xinjiang government detained unrecognized religious staff and some of them were even prosecuted to death". I want to clarify that our government has never prosecuted anyone, let alone prosecuting anyone to death. What the American politicians and media said was a sheer slander. Such groundless accusations fully expose their evil intentions to smear the image of China and instigate conflicts among different ethnic groups in Xinjiang by using religious issues. For instance, Yiminjan Sedul, a retired teacher from Xinjiang Islamic Institute, was claimed to be "illegally detained" by overseas anti-China forces who deceived and used his daughter as "a witness". But in fact, he has been living a free life, and he wants to say something to his daughter about the rumor.
I would also like to emphasize that the criminals who have been punished according to law are neither religious personages, nor religious staff at all. They are criminals who spread extremism and engage in separation, infiltration, sabotage and terrorist and extremist activities under the banner of Islam. Exploiting people's religious beliefs, they spread religious extremism and distort religious doctrines and canons. They have bound extremism to religion and incited followers to overthrow secular governments and establish theocratic states. They deny the concepts and achievements of modern secular civilization, inciting followers to "engage in a holy war and die for their beliefs in order to enter heaven.", and injuring and killing those they describe as "pagans" and "renegades". Normal religious activities in Xinjiang have been seriously disrupted, and upstanding religious individuals have been seriously ostracized, prosecuted or killed. For many religious believers, the mental shackles imposed by religious extremism have become unbearable, disturbing their normal life and work. Social and economic development in the region has also suffered as a result. China is a country under the rule of law. All men are equal before the law. No man, no region and no religion can get away from the rule of law. Anyone, no matter which ethnic groups he belongs to and which religion he believes in, as long as he violates the law, he will be severely punished.
There is an old saying in Xinjiang that if you lie to the local people, they won't buy it. Some American politicians just hate to see peace and prosperity in Xinjiang and in China as a whole, so they keep popping up and spreading rumors, and maliciously slander China's legal fight against terrorism and extremism as "religious prosecution". I can't help asking,are those conducting violent terrorist attacks under the guise of religion in the US also deemed as suffering from religious persecution? Are those who launched September 11 Attacks also religious personages? The Us has shown no mercy in its fight against terrorism, and even gone abroad to fight terrorists, which made life uneasy for several countries. Why has it completely changed its attitude when it comes to China's fight against terrorism? They not only made irresponsible remarks and spread rumors, but also even interfered in China's internal affairs. The reason lies in their double standards of counterterrorism. I have to reiterate that the history and facts of Xinjiang have clearly shown that any plot to distort the facts of religious situation in Xinjiang, impair religious harmony and undermine the peaceful and happy life of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang is a total delusion.
Q 9:What's the difference between religion and religious extremism? How do you deal with the matters in your de-radicalization work?
A: Religious extremism is the anti-human, anti-social and anti-civilization turbid current, which is fundamentally different from Islamic doctrines of patriotism, peace, solidarity, the golden mean, tolerance, and good works. In Xinjiang, religious extremism under the banner of Islam runs counter to Islamic doctrines. It is not Islam. For a long time, separatists have tied extremism to religion, to religious believers, and to society as a whole. They tell people not to obey anyone but Allah and incite them to resist government management. They advocate the deem all those who do not follow extremist practices as pagans, traitors and scum, urging their followers to verbally assault, reject, and isolate non-believers, Party members and officials, and patriotic religious individuals. They deny and reject all forms of secular culture, preaching a life without TV, radio and newspaper, forbidding people to weep at funerals or laugh at weddings, imposing bans on singing and dancing, and forcing women to wear bruqa. They over-generalize the "Halal" concept, labelling food, medicine, cosmetics, clothing, etc. with Halal signs. They turn a blind eye to the diverse and splendid cultures of Xinjiang created by all its ethnic groups, trying to sever the ties between the regional ethnic cultures and the Chinese culture.
Under the penetration and control of religious extremism, some of the most susceptible followers, no longer possessed of any self-control, became extremists. Judging from the large number of violent terrorist incidents that have been solve, there are shadows of religious extremism behind them. It can be said that religious extremism is the ideological basis of violent terrorism, as well as the source of the frequent occurrence of violent terrorist activities in Xinjiang. Faced with this severe and complex situation of frequent violent terrorist attacks for some time past, "upholding the principle of fighting and preventing terrorism at the same time," Xinjiang Autonomous Region has been taking aggressive action against violent terrorist crimes, and at the same time, addressing the problems at its source with facts as the basis and the law as the criterion. Xinjiang had established vocational education and training centers in accordance with law to educate and rehabilitate people influenced by religious extremism and involved in minor violations of the law, effectively preventing the breeding and spread of terrorism and religious extremism.
In our specific work, we have upheld that de-radicalization shall not be connected with any specific region, ethnic group and religion. On the one hand, the local government forbids any organization or individual from using religion to split the country, spread religious extremism, incite ethnic hatred, undermine ethnic unity, disturb social order, harm citizens' physical or mental health, hinder the implementation of the country's administrative, judicial, educational and cultural systems, or harm national security, national interests, public interests and civil rights and interests. It prevents ill-intentioned people from using religion or religious activities to create disorder or commit crimes. On the other hand, Xinjiang also abides by the policies and stipulations in the Constitution, other state laws and administrative regulations concerning freedom of religious belief. The people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have their freedom of religious belief fully protected. Citizens are entitled to choose to be religious believers or non-believers, and no organization or individual may force citizens to believe in a religion or not, nor discriminate against believers or non-believers.
Xinjiang's efforts in de-radicalization is highly appraised by the international community. Since December, 2018, more than 1,000 people from 90 countries have visited Xinjiang in over 70 groups, including UN officials, foreign diplomats, experts and scholars, journalists from different media, and representatives of religious organizations. They have generally expressed that Xinjiang's de-radicalization efforts have made an important contribution to the international community, and generated valuable experience that is of great reference value.
Q 10: We notice that a report issued by the website of "Uyghur Human Rights Project" claims that " China uses refusal to renew passports as a weapon to force overseas Uyghurs to return to China for extrajudicial detention or imprisonment." Is that the real situation?
A: In recent years, supported by some American non-governmental organizations, the "Uyghur Human Rights Project" has carried out so-called "Human Rights Investigation" and fabricated ""Human Rights Report" to attack and blacken China's policy on Xinjiang in the guise of "academic research" aiming at promoting so-called "Uyghur Human Rights Movement" and engaging in anti-China separatist activities. By using interviews with individual so-called "claimants," they slander our passport management measures, and provoke Xinjiang-native overseas Chinese to misunderstand and question our policy concerning Xinjiang through despicable means with malicious intention. Their absurd accusation that "China uses refusal to renew passports as a weapon to force overseas Uyghurs to return to China for extrajudicial detention or imprisonment" is a complete rumor and gimmick.
China is a country governed by the rule of law with personal freedom and right of exit and entry protected by law. In accordance with The Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China and The Passport Law of the People's Republic of China, Chinese embassies and consulates protect the legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese including ethnic minorities of Xinjiang according to law. Anyone who is a Chinese citizen without any law-breaking records and admit one's Chinese nationality can apply for a renewal or reissuance of passports in local Chinese embassies and consulates.
Based on facts, Xinjiang administers the entry and exit in accordance with the law, and strikes at terrorism and extremism. The Counterterrorism Law of the People's Republic of China stipulates that :" entry and exit permits issuing authority and border control authorities could prevent terrorism-related people or suspects from entering or exiting, refuse to grant permits or revoke their permits. According to our knowledge, most passport renewal or reissuance requests by applicants from Xinjiang have been accepted and approved by Chinese embassies and consulates. A very few of them were refused as their applications failed to qualify Chinese laws or they were suspected of being involved in terrorism-related activities. We sincerely hope Chinese citizens living overseas not to believe and spread rumors. Instead, they should place trust in the government that their Chinese passports will be renewed or reissued according to relevant laws.
Q 11. Recently, a PBS documentary named China Undercover, attacked the Xinjiang vocational education and training centers as well as its ethnic religious policies. It alleged that Xinjiang suppressed ethnic Muslims such as Uygurs by biological information DNA and "facial recognition" programs. How do you respond to that?
A: The so-called "documentary" are ridden with lies and fallacies. In order to catch eyes and blacken Xinjiang, they invited some "actors" with heaps of lies. They used groundless and distorted footage of interviews pieced together to churn out "stories", which had already been debunked. We are going to take this opportunity to illustrate their absurd views and clumsy acting.
For example, the film alleged that:"Xinjiang means 'new frontier'. About 250 years ago, the Qing Dynasty of China invaded Xinjiang and began to control Xinjiang severely. It is well know that Xinjiang has been a part of China since ancient times. From the Han to the middle and late Qing, the vast areas both north and south of the Tianshan Mountains in Xinjiang were called the western regions. Xinjiang was formally included in Chinese territory in the Han Dynasty. Later dynasties in the Central Plains, some strong , some weak, kept closer or looser contact with the Western Regions, and the central authorities exercised tighter of slacker administration over Xinjiang. But all of these dynasties regarded the Western Regions as part of Chinese territory and exercised the right of jurisdiction over Xinjiang. It is noted that in the Qing Dynasty, the imperial court quelled a rebellion launched by the Junggar regime. It then adopted more systematic policies for governing Xinjiang. In 1884, it established a province and renamed the Western Regions as "Xinjiang", meaning "land newly returned". The so-called fallacies such as "Qing Dynasty invaded Xinjiang" signify their ignorance about Xinjiang histories.
They alleged that "the mosques of Xinjiang are dismantled. Religious believers dare not to go to the mosque for fear of troubles. Some are warned to give up their religious belief ". All of these are rumors with ulterior motives. I would like to respond their fallacies with a set of data. The mosques in Xinjiang are 24,000 in total compared with 2,000 in early stages of the opening and reform. Are they reflections religious freedom or results of"dismantling mosques"? In fact, instead of tearing down mosques, Xinjiang invests a great deal in innovating dilapidated ones with continuously improved conditions. Thus, it is welcomed by many religious personages and religious believers with a great convenience for worship. In Xinjiang, it is citizens' freedom to believe in, or not to believe in any religion.
Citizens could engage in normal religious activities in relative venues or their own houses according to religious customs such as worships, fasting or celebrating religious holidays. All of these are completed by religious groups or citizens. They are protected by law and no organizations or individuals are allowed to interfere. For those biased western media adopting "double standards", I advise you to perceive Chinese religious policies and religious freedom correctly. Endless rumors will only cost your own credibility.
For instance, the documentary claims that "Xinjiang is making use of surveillance technology including facial recognition to suppress Uygurs and other Muslims. Such practice is spreading to other countries, projecting global implications on human rights and democracy," Theses are nothing but preconceptions without any proof of the facts. Xinjiang lawfully installing surveillance cameras at its urban and rural main roads, transportation junctions and other public areas aims to improve its social governance and effectively prevent and strike crimes. These measures have strengthened people's sense of security and thus are broadly supported by all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Designed to protect our people, the system doesn't target any specific ethnicity. Moreover, the surveillance equipment itself cannot auto-identify or direct at specific ethnic groups. The practice is . According to my knowledge, improving social governance through modern technological products and big data has been a common practice of the international community.
Back in 2010, Britain had installed 4.2 million surveillance cameras, covering all its streets, alleys and motorways, accounting for 25% of the world's total. The urban surveillance system constructed by New York Police puts pedestrians and vehicles at every corner under its cameras, besides tracking and scrutinizing cellphone messages. Why the systems practised by western countries are considered as human rights protection while that by China as a violation? They are same in nature. It is obvious a double standard. Pretending to negotiate business deals with the hidden motives, this so-called documentary resorted to underhand tricks like secret audio and video recording and coaxing words from the Leon Tech at its false meetings with the company, calumniating that "Leon Tech has helped Chinese government accomplish the world's most complete surveillance system."
For example, the video defines satellite images that resemble construction sites as so-called "detention camps," claiming that "around two million Uygurs and other Muslims have been locked up in the vocational education and training centers, some of who suffered torture and persecution, some even attempted to commit suicide." These are nothing but alarmist nonsense.
I would like to ask this producer: Have you ever been to those construction sites on the satellite images? On what grounds can you define these sites as vocational education and training centers? Here I would like to stress that vocational education and training centers were law-based education and training institutions set up in the face of frequent terrorist incidents in Xinjiang to eradicate terrorism and religious extremism at the source. The centers had no essential differences from the "community corrections" of the U.S., the DDP of Britain, and "anti-extremism centers" in France.
Complying with the spirit of rule of law and international principles on counterterrorism and deradicalization, Xinjiang's vocational education and training work is built on solid legal basis and follows clear and definite procedures, targeting no locality, ethnicity and religion. Those who have visited the centres all know they are well-equipped educational institutions which helped the trainees free themselves from the control of extremist thoughts, and taught them standard spoken and written Chinese, laws, and skills. Throughout the implementation, the centers strictly followed the constitutional and other legal provisions to prevent any violation of the trainees' basic rights.The personal freedom of trainees at the education and training centers was protected in accordance with the law. The centers employed a residential education model which allowed trainees to go back home on a regular basis and ask for leave to attend personal affairs. The customs of all ethnic groups and the right to use their spoken and written languages were fully protected at the centers. The regulations, curriculum, and menus at the centers all use local ethnic languages as well as standard Chinese. The customs of all ethnic groups were fully respected and protected, and a variety of nutritious Muslim food was provided free of charge. The centers respected the trainees'freedom of religious belief, trainees could decide on their own whether to take part in religious activities on a legal basis when they get home. The centers also had free 24-hour medical facilities available to trainees, capable of treating minor ailments, In case of major and acute illnesses, trainees will be sent to hospitals. Does there exist any "interment camps" or "concentration camps" like this in the world?
In the video, there are words like this,"the allegation from Xinjiang government is doubtful that whether all the trainees had completed the courses. We highly suspected that the trainees were still under monitored or transferred to do forced labor work somewhere." This is the absolute disregarding of the truth by confusing right from wrong. I am here reiterating the fact that Mr. Shohrat Zakir, Deputy secretary of CPC Xinjiang, announcing at the Press Conference on Xinjiang's Steady Development (December 9th, 2019), "all the trainees on the vocational and training program that involved learning the standard Chinese, legal knowledge, skills and deradicalization had completed their courses. They found stead jobs with the help of local governments, their life had improved, thus they could lead normal lives." Trainees are free labor forces as well as citizens who share equal labor rights. They will enjoy free will to choose places and varieties of their jobs. Trainees are the most qualifies representatives to tell whether they were monitored or forced to do labor works.
As for those actors, now let's see who they really are. First one, Gulziyan Taxmamat, who is a member of "World Uyghur Congress", and has been in Germany since October, 2010. She claimed that her sister was captured after returning to China. As far as we know, her sister, Gulgina Taxmamat, who has come back from Malaysia, now teaches English at a training institution in Yining City, and lives with her family.
Second one, Gulzila Awarkhan, is a dishonest and unscrupulous woman. According to what we know, with 5 people as her guarantors, she applied for a loan of 40,000 yuan from Yining Rural Credit Cooperative. She was put on blacklist by the bank because she intentionally delayed paying off her loans and still hasn't paied back the interest after date due. She said, in an interview by The Globe and Mail, that her aim and dream was to bring up her children. But she never gave birth to any child. She got three step-daughters when she married her third husband. But she was very indifferent to them. She even asked her step-daughter, Kunduz Tursunjon, to pay back her debts. According to her two ex-husbands, Gulzila wasn't faithful to their marriages. She kept cheating on her husbands during their marriages. Since we know what Gulzila is like, should we believe what she said?
The third one, Rahima Xanba, is a totally liar. She said she was captured because she installed WhatsApp on her cellphone. She also said while being interviewed by The Globe and Mail, that she was put into a detention house for 70 days with shackles around her hands and feet. But that is not the truth. The real picture is that she was reported to the police because she stored and often watched terrorist and extremist audios and videos on her phone. Thus she was questioned by local police in accordance with the law. Considering her offence was minor and repentant attitude, the police exercised leniency on her according to law after educating her. Her mother, Danixman Musa, said, "it is indeed that my daughter was questioned in the police station on suspicion of committing offences after being infected with extremism. But she came back just after 3 hours. She was then at home attending to the cattle and sheep. What she said about 70 days of detention did not exist."
We have noticed those "actresses" showed up very often in some ill-intentioned western media reports. I wonder: There are many people from Xinjiang living abroad, why those media love to interview these few? I think I have to come to this conclusion that they have run out of smears and slanders, so they have to use the same ones again and again.
To end, I want to emphasize that as long as Xinjiang is stable and developing, and people in Xinjiang are living a happy life, those rumors will collapse on themselves. Those sinister tricks cannot change how the world sees us and will be spurned by wise minds.