White paper sets Xinjiang facts straight, cites successes

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/15 23:44:25

Clear voice needed to squelch foreign rumors about Xinjiang: expert

Local people are selling barbecue and naan (a kind of crusty bread) at the night market of Hotan, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Photo: VCG

Cheering squad dancers dancing during half-time break of a China Basketball Association (CBA) basketball game on Sunday at the home stadium of Xinjiang Guanghui, a Urumqi-based CBA team. The team base in the capital of Xinjiang has defeated Jilin Jiutai Nongshang, another CBA team from Northeast China's Jinlin Province, with 117-115 on Sunday. Photo: VCG

Residents have a leisure time at the Kantuman Bazaar in Kashi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. "Kantuman" means iron farming tools in local language. At the Kantuman Bazaar, one can see blacksmith craftsmanship of Uyghur ethnic group that passes on for hundreds of years. Photo: Xinhua

Amid ongoing Western accusations against human rights in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China released a white paper on Thursday to explain efforts and achievements in the region's languages, customs, religions and cultural heritage in the past half century.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese central government has attached great importance to documenting and protecting the excellent traditional ethnic cultures in Xinjiang, and ensuring that they are passed on to succeeding generations, the white paper said.

Released by the State Council - China's cabinet, the white paper stressed that ethnic cultures in Xinjiang are an inseparable part of Chinese culture.

Since ancient times, Xinjiang has been home to various ethnic groups, where different ethnic cultures coexist and integrate, it said.

The white paper is a "timely and necessary" move to "correct misunderstandings and ongoing rumors" from foreign media and politicians on the development of Xinjiang, Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body, told the Global Times on Thursday.

A group of 15 Western ambassadors in Beijing, spearheaded by Canada, is seeking a meeting with the top Xinjiang official for an "explanation" of alleged rights abuses against Uyghurs, Reuters reported Thursday.

Calling the request "rude and unacceptable," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Thursday that China hopes the ambassadors fulfill their responsibility of offering a faithful and comprehensive understanding of China instead of making "unreasonable" request based on hearsay.

"Xinjiang is an open region and we welcome the ambassadors to visit for goodwill reasons," Hua said at the daily briefing on Thursday.

"However, if they are coming with prejudice and vicious motives to interfere in China's domestic affairs, the answer is a resolute no," she said.

Battleground sector

The cultural sector has been a battleground to enhance ethnic identity and unity in the region, Zhu noted.

For a long time, some domestic and foreign forces have been plotting to separate Xinjiang from China, and while they see little chance of succeeding through political or military means, the forces are targeting the cultural sector, said Zhu.

The separatists are spreading two kinds of rumors: Xinjiang's culture is a separate part of Chinese culture, an argument that is contradictory to common sense, and that the Chinese central government is "suppressing or eradicating" cultures in Xinjiang, a narrative that contradicts reality, Zhu said.

The latest accusation comes from a CNN report on Thursday, which said Xinjiang is undergoing "cultural genocide" as Uyghur culture and identity are "altered."

"The 'cultural genocide' accusation is complete nonsense and contradicts reality," Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at Beijing-based Minzu University of China, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Turning a blind eye to the prospering economy and cultures in the region, some Western media and politicians are hyping religious and ethnic issues to gain attention for their political agenda, Xiong said.

China has always believed that religions should make adjustments in a socialist society and play a positive role in society, Xiong noted.

"Religious doctrines and ethnic cultures that fail to comply with the social development will be outdated. It's a natural rule," Xiong stressed.

The white paper, "Cultural Protection and Development in Xinjiang," also offers facts about the preservation of cultural and religious heritage in the region, as well as efforts to improve public services and international exchanges.

At major meetings of China's top legislature and political advisory bodies, interpreting services and transcripts of languages used by ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang are provided. The languages are also used during local elections, in local courts and in the gaokao, or the national college entrance examinations, the white paper said.

Since 2009, Xinjiang has held seven China International Youth Arts festivals, inviting more than 119 art troupes from countries and regions like Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Azerbaijan.

In recent years, Xinjiang has been active in building the core area along the Silk Road Economic Belt, strengthening cultural and scientific and technological exchanges with countries along the Belt, according to the white paper.

From 1985 to 2017, colleges and universities in Xinjiang enrolled 50,000 foreign students, the white paper said.

"Faced with the rude and groundless accusations, China should continue to send a clear voice to prevent rumors and lies from succeeding," Zhu said.

The country should be confident in the region's hard-fought achievements and should always take the initiative in telling the facts of Xinjiang, instead of allowing separatists to set the narrative, Zhu told the Global Times.


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