By Zhong Sheng
The State Council Information Office Wednesday issued a white paper detailing the country’s progress in protecting the rights of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, including civil rights, political rights, economic rights, cultural rights, social rights, rights of women and children and freedom of religious belief.
The white paper, titled Respecting and Protecting the Rights of All Ethnic Groups in Xinjiang, proves with abundant facts and statistics that for more than 70 years since 1949, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government have upheld a people-centered approach to human rights protection, treating the rights to subsistence and development as the primary human rights. Integrating the principle of universal human rights with the country’s realities, China has enriched its strategy for the governance of Xinjiang to guarantee the people’s equal rights to participation and development. Thanks to these efforts, human rights have made steady progress in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang was once a victim of terrorist activities. Terrorist forces at home and abroad claiming to represent “East Turkistan” have colluded with each other, and plotted and carried out thousands of terrorist acts. These acts have seriously endangered the lives of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang has promulgated a series of local regulations to strike hard at terrorist activities that infringe upon human rights and endanger public security, and at illegal and criminal activities that make use of extremism to undermine the law.
Xinjiang attaches importance to preventing terrorism at its source. By improving livelihood and carrying out publicity and education campaigns on the rule of law, it follows an approach of preventive counter-terrorism to protect basic rights. For more than four years since the end of 2016 there has been no terrorist incident in Xinjiang. The right to life of people of all ethnic groups has been fully protected.
In May, senior diplomats from 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries made field visits to Xinjiang. They said they fully understand and support the efforts of the Chinese government in combating terrorism and de-radicalization in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang pursues rapid economic and social development. More effort and investment have been made to improve the people’s wellbeing. All ethnic groups enjoy equal opportunities and economic rights.
From 1955 to 2020, Xinjiang’s GDP soared 160.3 times, and its per capita GDP 30.3 times. By the end of 2020, more than 2.7 million rural people in Xinjiang living below the current poverty line had emerged from poverty, and 3,666 villages and 32 counties were no longer classified as poor. Xinjiang people are having an increasingly enhanced sense of gain, happiness and security.
Sergey Sanakoev, president of the Asia-Pacific Region Research Center, noted that Xinjiang’s development fully indicates the Chinese government’s respect for the rights of ethnic minority groups.
Respect for and protection of freedom of religious belief is a basic and long-term national policy of the Chinese government. Subject to the principles of protecting lawful practices, proscribing illegal activities, containing extremism, resisting infiltration, and punishing crime, the local government of Xinjiang fully applies the policy, protecting legitimate religious activities and ensuring the public’s freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law.
William Jones, Washington Bureau Chief of the Executive Intelligence Review News Service once visited Xinjiang and witnessed the rapid development of the autonomous region and the happiness of local residents from all ethnic groups. He said the allegations on Xinjiang violating human rights are indeed lies fabricated by those with vicious intentions.
Facts speak louder than words. Currently, rumors, distortions, and complete fabrications are being spread by some foreign media and politicians. This has aroused indignation among the people in Xinjiang and the rest of China, and is condemned by those in the international community who seek to uphold justice.
Recently, more than 90 countries expressed their support and understanding of China’s stance at the 47th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, clearly opposing interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights.
A joint research by three Italian think tanks also recognized the effective results achieved by the Chinese government’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang. Co-author of the research, Fabio Massimo Parenti, an Italian scholar of international relations, said he witnessed the freedom of religious belief enjoyed by Uygur people and people of other ethnic groups during his visit to Xinjiang, and there was no trace of the so-called forced labor and genocide. The accusation against Xinjiang is totally groundless, he added.
Xinjiang is now a stable and orderly society, where the local ethnic groups live in mutual harmony and peace. It is experiencing an optimal period of development. China has achieved moderate prosperity in all respects and embarked on a new journey of building itself into a modern socialist country. This will better ensure ethnic equality, and all the people of Xinjiang will enjoy a happier and more prosperous life. Any attempt to undermine Xinjiang’s stability and prosperity, interfere in China’s domestic affairs with Xinjiang-related issues, and contain China’s development is doomed to fail.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)