Ambassador tells truth of Xinjiang

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/16 19:38:40

Training centers effective to remove soil of three evil forces

Chinese Ambassador to Kazakhstan Zhang Xiao sits for a group interview with mainstream media in Kazakhstan recently. Photo: the website of Chinese Embassy to Kazakhstan

Editor's Note:

Chinese Ambassador to Kazakhstan Zhang Xiao (Zhang) recently sat for a group interview with mainstream media in Kazakhstan, where he reiterated that recent reports in the West on the vocational education and training centers in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region were groundless.

Some foreign media recently published reports on "released Kazak Chinese citizens" from the training centers in Xinjiang, who claimed to have been tortured and mistreated.

According to the reports, many of these self-claimed released people are in Kazakhstan now and are making a stand against China's Xinjiang policies. For example, Foreign Policy reported on March 4 that Gulzira Auelkhankyzy, an ethnic Kazak Chinese citizen, was "regularly interrogated and forced to give blood" in the training centers.

The Global Times learned from an anonymous official in Xinjiang that the regional government has verified information of these so-called "released" people who appeared in the recent reports and their stories are fabricated.

The Chinese Embassy to Kazakhstan released Zhang's interview with the media on its website on Monday. 

This is the translated interview.

Question: Recently, some Western media interviewed people who "ran" or "were released" from the Xinjiang camps. These reports said they were tortured in the centers. Mr Ambassador, are these reports true?

Zhang: I saw the "reports" you mentioned. I am responsible to tell you that they are totally lies. There is no "concentration camp" or "gulag" in China's Xinjiang. There are vocational education and training centers in the region, which China has explained in detail and in public many times. 

However, some media could not even get the name clear or they did this on purpose and they hastily reported the so-called truth. Their intentions are clear - to slander China's Xinjiang, to stir up hatred among different ethnic groups and friction among religions, and to sabotage the Chinese people's efforts on anti-terrorism and safeguarding stability.

Speaking of the truth, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the true situation of the training centers in Xinjiang to ensure people in Kazakhstan have a correct understanding of the facts.

Since the 1990s, the three evil forces - terrorism, religious extremism and separatism have been a scourge in China's Xinjiang and implemented a series of appalling terrorist attacks, including the incident in Urumqi on July 5, 2009.

What should we do? Aside from taking strong measures, we also need to remove the soil for the three evil forces. All these measures aim to help people who were instigated by the three evil forces or influenced by extremism to come back to reason and to return to society to live a normal life. 

In order to achieve this purpose, China set up the training centers in accordance with China's Constitution, the Counterterrorism Law and the Regulations of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on De-radicalization and by referring to the successful experience on counterterrorism from other countries. 

Q: It is said that all people in the training centers are Muslims and many of them are Kazaks, who are living as prisoners. Is this true?

Zhang: The training centers in Xinjiang do not target any ethnic group or certain religion and all people there are treated equally without discrimination. There are two criteria for whether an individual should be in the centers - whether they participated in illegal activities of the three evil forces and whether they pose a threat to the society. 

For example, some individuals used social media, such as WhatsApp to promote "jihad" online or spread videos on violence in circumstances that were not serious enough to constitute a crime. These people go to the training centers. Some people, who received prison sentence for participating in terrorist or extremist activities but refuse to abandon extremism and plan to take revenge, also need to go to the training centers.

To put it simply, people who obey laws and regulations and commit no wrong deeds do not need to worry about "going to the training centers" no matter which ethnic group they are from and whatever their religion is.

The training center is not prison, but a school for the public. There is only one goal for the school - to educate people and to stop good people becoming bad. 

What do people learn in the center? They learn Putonghua to make sure that all Chinese citizens can understand, can speak and can write the national common language. This is the basic requirement and responsibility for a citizen from any civilized country.

Trainees learn knowledge on laws so that all Chinese citizens understand that they live in the 21st Century where laws are put in place and strictly enforced and anyone who violates the laws will be held accountable. The trainees should have the basic awareness of laws so they are not so easily tempted by extremism.

They also learn vocational skills at the centers, including pastry making, weaving and textile printing, shoes-making and fixing machinery, hairdressing and make-up and e-commerce. Trainees can choose one to two skills to learn based on their interests. There will be more chance for them to get employment and less risk of becoming involving with the three evil forces.

With the work of these training centers being implemented in order, more and more trainees have graduated from the centers and returned to society and earned a better life.

Q: For the trainees, are their basic human rights being protected? Or is it like some people said that they were "tortured and mistreated" every day?

Zhang: There is no torture in these training centers but only protection and respect for human rights. In contrast to the fake news, trainees' religions and traditions are fully respected - all the centers offer various kinds of food, including halal food for them to choose. There are different entertainment activities, including singing songs, dancing, chanting or playing basketball for their physical health.  

Speaking of human rights, let me ask a question, if a modern person could not understand or write the country's common language, has no idea about modern marriage or zero vocational skills, but only enslaves his wife at home or is mistreated by her arranged husband, and are used or brainwashed by the three evil forces, how could you say he or she has some human rights?

All the facts have told that the work of training centers has been effective and helpful. For now, the stability and situation in China's Xinjiang has been improved and there have been no violent incidents in the region for more than two years. It is not only a positive influence on Xinjiang's work on maintaining security but also makes a great contribution to safeguarding the stability of the adjacent Central Asia area.

I have noticed that in the reports you mentioned, the so-called "released people" claimed that in order to stop the training centers in Xinjiang, efforts should be made to prevent China's Belt and Road Initiative, stop the realization of the Chinese Dream and to blow up China's economy.

Please rethink of these words. Can "a released person" make such remarks? It may even be not that easy for a news commentator to give such profound messages. It is clear that some anti-China forces are standing behind them and these so-called "released" people are making shabby performances with the scripts made by the anti-China forces.

Instead of saying that they are concerned about the situation of human rights in Xinjiang, they are disturbing the stability of the region. Instead of saying they are concerned about their compatriots of the Kazak community in Xinjiang, they are undermining China-Kazakhstan friendships and preventing the benefits brought by the bilateral cooperation.

The last thing these anti-China forces want to see is a stable Xinjiang and good China-Kazakhstan ties. It is a pity to see that some people have been fooled by the so-called truth - they unconsciously play the role of a megaphone and a loudspeaker for these forces.

However, I still believe that most people in Kazakhstan are capable of telling the truth. They may be fooled for a moment, but they will finally know the truth. 

Friends and relatives always hope the best for each other, and so do neighbors. China and Kazakhstan are close friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers. The Chinese people sincerely hope Kazakhstan enjoys stability and prosperity. The prolonged stability in China's Xinjiang will also benefit Kazakhstan's sustainable development. We do hope more and more friends in Kazakhstan will see the truth, to stand with China's efforts on Xinjiang's counterterrorism and safeguarding stability and to actively join in building the great career of the Belt and Road Initiative.

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