Truths about Xinjiang the Western media won’t tell

SINCE last year, Western media have been creating an unusual amount of hype on Xinjiang issues. The New York Times, CNN and

others have spared no effort in making up horrifying headlines like “China detaining Muslims in vast numbers”, “Millions sent to concentration camp by the government”, “Largest human rights

crisis since the 1990s”, and etc.

Sensationalism aside, one may wonder how many of these stories are based on facts. How many of them are telling half-truths? In this regard, I want to share something that Western media have never told you.

Western media claim that Muslims are being tortured and China is cleansing its citizens of Muslim religion and culture. However, they didn’t tell you that:

> The Chinese government has always been protecting freedom of religious belief and safeguarding the legal rights and interests of minorities, strictly prohibiting

any discrimination and oppression against the latter. There are 200 million religious believers in

China, and 20 million of them are Muslims, with the Hui and Uyghur Muslims making up the majority.

In Kuala Lumpur, many halal

noodle restaurants are run by Chinese Hui Muslim. In Xinjiang, halal restaurants are everywhere. The number of halal restaurants far surpasses non-halal ones and they are also more popular.

In Xinjiang, there are now over 28,000 religious sites and close to 30,000 clerical personnel. Every 530 Muslims in Xinjiang have a mosque on average, which is higher than in many Muslim countries such as Turkey.

> What minorities in China like the Uyghur are facing is not torture but policies and social welfare far more favourable than what their Han brethren are enjoying. In order to raise the ratio of minorities’ population, Uyghurs and other minorities were exempted from the One Child Policy for 10 years. They are still enjoying reasonably relaxed policies. Some minority farmers and herdsmen are allowed to raise up to four children. In terms of education, while the general practice in China is nine-year compulsory education, Xinjiang is the first province to practise 15-year compulsory education. Every year, millions of Chinese high school students compete in Gaokao (national college entrance examination), which is probably one of the most crucial moments in their lives. Chances are the minority students from Xinjiang and other provinces are awarded 50 to 60 extra points, meaning they will be well ahead of Han students in terms of ranking by a large margin of several hundred thousand.

In China, where the area of arable land per person is less than one-third of the world average, and land rents in major cities are almost sky-high, Muslims still keep their religious burial tradition whereas Han people are to be cremated.

Western media claim that China is oppressing Uyghurs and other minorities in the name of counter-terrorism and counter-extremism. However, they didn’t tell you that:

> Xinjiang, especially its southern parts, has long been the target of terrorism and extremism infiltration by terrorist organisations, such as East Turkestan Islamic Movement (Etim) since the 1990s. These foreign organisations demanded monetary support from local families who “encouraged” their children to go to illegal religious institutes instead of regular schools. There, the children were indoctrinated with extremist ideologies. Some separatists blatantly called for the “independence” of Xinjiang and the establishment of

a so-called ecclesiastical “East Turkestan”.

> From 1990 to 2016, the extremists, terrorists and separatists have committed thousands of terrorist attacks in all parts of Xinjiang, resulting in property damage beyond estimation and huge casualties of both civilians and police officers. The darkest day in Xinjiang’s recent history was on July 5,2009, when hundreds of Uyghur extremists rioted and rampaged on the streets of Urumqi and assaulted defenceless civilians. At the end of the day, 197 were killed and more than 1,700 were injured. This truly merciless attack was condemned by Juma Tahir, imam of Id Kah Mosque, as an organised, premeditated violent attack perpetrated by separatists in the name of religion. Regrettably, imam Juma Tahir was assassinated five years later by three extremists outside the mosque, and the sole reason for his death was because he was an outspoken adversary of extremism and terrorism.

> It was in a grim situation like this that the central government and government of Xinjiang Autonomous Region decided to take measures to crack down on extremism and terrorism to prevent their expansion and to eliminate them at the grass roots. Thanks to these measures, Xinjiang, once haunted by the dread of terrorism, has not experienced a single terrorist attack for three years. People now feel safe and secure day and night, both inside and outside their homes.

In 2018, tourism in Xinjiang surged significantly. A total of 150 million tourists visited Xinjiang, recording a 40% year-to-year increase. Among those tourists, 2.4 million were foreigners, an increase of 10%. People who visit Xinjiang are in awe of its tranquility, beauty and prosperity.

Western media claim that the vocational education and training centres are so-called “concentration camps”, where Muslims are cruelly restrained and “brainwashed”. However, they didn’t tell you that:

> The training centres are just like ordinary boarding schools. Students pursue their study during the day and have every means of communication. They can go home on weekends and ask for a day off when needed. Through the training programmes, students acquire knowledge, vocational skills and means for making a living. After graduation, most of them would successfully reintegrate into society, get a job, start a business and ultimately a new life.

In fact, some students are sent to the training centres by their families to help them get rid of extremist ideologies and return to a normal life. When a Malaysian delegation visited one of the training centres, a student majoring in fashion designing revealed that she voluntarily asked for three more months of training in order to better grasp

the skill.

Western media claim that at the United Nations General Assembly meeting, 23 countries including

the United States pointed their

fingers at China on the Xinjiang issues. However, they didn’t tell you that:

> Most of these 23 countries were Western countries or allies of the US. There was not a single Muslim country or developing country among them. Western media also won’t tell you that during the same meeting, 66 countries, through joint or separate statements, complimented China’s great human rights progress and its policies in Xinjiang while objecting to others meddling in China’s internal affairs. Instead of a single bloc, these countries are from all parts of the world, and almost 30 of them are Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt.

Recently, Western media like The New York Times published lengthy stories about what they believe to be the “internal documents” of the Chinese government on Xinjiang. However, what they are really doing is bait-and-switch, substituting false claims for the truth. For example, they take the liberty to use the term “no-mercy” on all Uyghurs, which is in fact a term only for terrorists.

And they didn’t tell you that since 2015, the Chinese government has published seven white papers, introducing in full detail the ethnicity and religion policies, counter-terrorism measures and human rights progresses in Xinjiang. Western media have turned a blind eye to these positive and constructive information while obstinately chasing after falsehoods and partial truths. It really makes us wonder whether Western media truly care about Muslims in Xinjiang, or are they just exploiting the issue as means to demonise China?

After the Sept 11,2001 attacks, the US started a massive campaign to crack down on terrorism and labelled itself as a global counter-terrorism leader. Curiously enough, when facing the terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, the US never hesitated to offer its praises, euphemistically calling the attacks “the beginning of democratisation in China”. The US even colluded with Etim, providing it with funds and moral support.

We just have to ponder what ominous intents are behind this good show of double standards.

A proverb in China says “Three liars make a tiger”, which means that a widespread lie may even become the truth for some people. For Western countries that are in full control of a majority of the news agencies and social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it is just a piece of cake for them to scandalise and defame a country to fulfil their political agenda.

As a fast growing, developing country, China is no stranger to suppression and impedance from certain big powers. In order to curb China’s development, they resort to all kinds of excuses and pretences (such as ethnicity, religion, human rights, democracy and freedom), disregard all facts and truth, and keep intervening in China’s internal affairs. Hong Kong and Xinjiang are no exception. Beneath the high walls built by their gigantic propaganda machine, many facts and truths may be buried deep, waiting to be discovered by clever and adept readers.

To let the truth be known, since the end of 2018, the Chinese side has invited more than 1,000 foreign delegates to visit Xinjiang, including Malaysian officials, journalists and Muslim groups. The delegates have seen with their own eyes the socioeconomic development and real situation in Xinjiang, including the training centres. Many delegates have admitted that Xinjiang is anything but what the Western media claim it is.

In a newspaper article, Datuk Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim, director-general of Jakim, wrote that

the Chinese government respects freedom of religious belief of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, protecting in full measure their language, customs and cultural heritage. The ethnic communities in Xinjiang care about the lives of ethnic minorities and it is common for minorities to help and support each other.

Mainstream media in Indonesia, like Metro TV and Media Indonesia, after their visit to Xinjiang, expressed their frank opinions that Xinjiang pays high attention to cultivating religious understanding among believers and in training clerics. China is in no way an anti-Islam country, and measures taken by Xinjiang government to prevent and battle terrorism and extremism should be supported.

The wise do not buy rumours, as more and more people are recognising China’s policies on ethnic minorities and religions that are suitable to our national conditions. These efforts are also gaining more endorsements.

In future, we are willing to invite more foreign friends, including Malaysians, to visit Xinjiang. I

hope more of you can see with your own eyes the tireless efforts of the Chinese government to

make Xinjiang a land of peace,

harmony, stability and development.

I hope more of you can find in Xinjiang those truths that the Western media never intend to tell you.

BAI TIAN , Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia

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