By Yao Jing
Xinjiang is the nearest place of China to Pakistan. When we say that “Sino-Pakistan friendship is higher than mountains”, it refers to the Karakoram Mountains between Xinjiang and Pakistan. As the starting point for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the hub area of the “Belt and Road” Initiative, Xinjiang is facing unprecedented opportunities for development.
From 1978 to 2018, Xinjiang has made great improvement in people’s living standards. The GDP of Xinjiang increased from 3.9 billion yuan to 1.15 trillion yuan ($1686 billion) and the per capita GDP increased from 313 yuan to 48,000 yuan ($7000), an increase of 294 times and 153 times respectively. Tourism has become an important engine for high-quality development. Last year, the number of domestic and international tourists in Xinjiang exceeded 150 million, an increase of more than 40%.
The greatest charm of Xinjiang lies in the multi-ethnic harmony and diversity in cultures. There are 25,000 places for religious activities, including 24,400 mosques. On average, there is one mosque for every 530 Muslims. Xinjiang has a population of 25 million and hosts all 56 ethnic groups in China such as Uygur, Han, Kazakh, Hui, Kirgiz, Mongolia, Tajik, etc. The minority population accounts for 59.9% of the total population. The people of all ethnic groups hold together like pomegranate seeds, cherishing national unity as much as their own lives.
The remarkable economic and social development that Xinjiang has achieved attributed to the policy of the Chinese government in firmly cracking down on terrorism and safeguarding social stability. Since the 1990’s, terrorists, extremists and separatists inside and outside China have planned and organized thousands of violent terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, resulting in a large number of casualties of innocent people of all ethnic groups. Among these attacks are some notorious cases. On 5 July 2009, mobs smashed the city of Urumqi, causing 197 deaths and more than 1,700 injuries. At that time, Xinjiang was on the verge of being swallowed by terrorism.
By combining anti-terrorism experience of the international community with the ground situation, the Chinese government has taken a series of deradicalization measures, including establishing the vocation and education training centre. Lessons on official language of China, Chinese laws, vocational training and deradicalization were offered for free, so trainees can master a skill and achieve self-reliance after the training. During the training, customs and habits of different ethnic groups and different religions are respected. After the training is completed, trainees are recommended jobs in local enterprises.
Deradicalization in Xinjiang has been proven effective with remarkable outcomes. For nearly 3 years, no violent terrorist attacks have taken place in Xinjiang. Number of criminal and public security cases also decreased sharply, and the infiltration of extremism has been effectively curbed. Today, Xinjiang is not only as beautiful as it used to be, but also much safer. It becomes a beautiful home for people of all ethnics to live and work in peace.
Despite all the development in Xinjiang, in the past few months, there have been some noises by Western media. Some attacked the training centre as “prisons” or “concentration camps”, which “seriously violated human rights”. Among those who make voices, some have never been to Xinjiang, their allegation is based on rumours or imagination; some have hidden motives, who intentionally twist the truth to discredit China or provoke conflict between China and Muslim countries by linking the effort of Chinese government in maintaining social stability with “religion repression”.
For those who do not have a chance to know what is happening in Xinjinga, they are welcome to visit Xinjiang truth with their own eyes. Recently, representatives from international organizations including the UN, OIC, and government officials and media groups from Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some other countries visited Xinjiang and met face-to-face with the trainees. They witnessed how local Muslims lived and worked in peace and fully enjoy the freedom of religion. They highly appreciated the ethnic and religious policies of China, and firmly supported China’s preventive anti-terrorism and deradicalization efforts. For those who pretend to be asleep, we know that they can never be awakened. We believe that facts speak louder than words, while lies cannot hide the truth.
Pakistan has long been disturbed by terrorism. Under the joint efforts of the Pakistani government, the armed forces and the people, terrorism has been basically eliminated with tremendous sacrifices paid by the society. Social security has been effectively maintained. China and Pakistan have cooperated with each other in combating the “three forces” over the years, and jointly safeguarded the construction of the CPEC. China supports Pakistan in its efforts in carrying out the National Action Plan on Anti-terrorism. China is ready to jointly enhance counter-terrorism capacity, and beef up international cooperation with Pakistan. Working hand in hand, China and Pakistan will play a more positive role in safeguarding the security of the two brotherly countries, as well as the peace and stability in the region.