Ambassador Li Chao published a signed article entitled Facts One Should Know About Xinjiang on Estonian News Paper Eesti Päevaleht

On February 4, the Chinese ambassador to Estonia H.E. Mr. Li Chao published a signed article entitled “Facts One Should Know About Xinjiang” on Estonian newspaper Eesti Päevaleht to introduce the economic and social development of Xinjiang and elaborate the ethnic and religious policies in Xinjiang, opportunities provided by “Belt and Road” Initiative for Xinjiang and the achievement made by the local government in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization.

Here is the English text:

Facts One Should Know About Xinjiang

Xinjiang, located in the northwest of China, is the largest provincial administrative region in the country with a vast land accounting for one sixth of total national territory. Xinjiang has always been an area of multi-ethnic minorities where coexists different cultures and religions. It has been an important cultural cross-place historically between the East and the West. In the 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Xinjiang has made remarkable achievements. The economic aggregate has surged from $113 millionin 1952 to $171billion in 2018, a 200-fold increase excluding inflation, an average annual growth rate of 8.3 percent. From 2014 to 2018, over 2.31 million people in Xinjiang have been lifted out of poverty. The poverty rate in Xinjiang’s rural areas fell from 19.4 percent to 6.1 percent. There are 21 civil airports in Xinjiang while the high-speed railway from Urumqi, the capital city, can take you to any part of China. All of the achievements can not be made without the preferential policies implemented by the state government.

★ Ethnic and religious policies. Xinjiang has been a place of multi-ethnic minorities since ancient times. Among the 25 million population, there are 13 ethnic groups who have lived there for generations. Since the founding of the people's Republic of China 70 years ago, especially in last 40 years with the reform and opening up policy, you can find people from almost all the 56 ethnic groups of China in Xinjiang. The state policies protect the rights of all ethnic minorities to speak, write and teach with their own languages and the freedom of religious belief. The Chinese government also respects and protects the normal religious activities of religious believers as well as the customs and habits of all ethnic minorities. In Xinjiang, there are 24,800 venues for religious activities, including mosques, churches, Buddhist and Taoist temples. There are more than 380,000 clerics serving different religious activities. Among the venues, 24,400 are mosques, a mosque for every 530 Muslims in average. All the ethnic groups in Xinjiang enjoy full freedom of religious belief and the right of ethnic languages. There are no so-called "issues" related to ethnicity, religion or human rights in Xinjiang.

★Fiscal Policy of State Government. The fiscal policy of state government has favored to Xinjiang provincial administration in the last 7 decades. In 2018, the transfer payment to Xinjiang reached $43.1 billion, accounting for 60.3% of Xinjiang's yearly public expenditure. For many years, Xinjiang government has applied over 70 percent of the general public budget expenditure on ensuring and improving people's well-being and have been continuing to promote projects beneficial to the people’s employment, education, medical care, social security, housing, etc. Many livelihood problems related to the vital interests of the people have been solved. Life quality have been greatly improved.

★Belt and Road Initiative. In the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, Xinjiang is committed to expanding its opening up and actively promoting regional transportation, economy, trade and logistics as well as comprehensively deepening the connection and cooperation with the Belt and Road countries. In 2018, the trade value between Xinjiang and 36 Belt and Road countries and regions increased by 13.5 percent year on year to $42 billion, accounting for 98.2 percent of Xinjiang’s total foreign trade volume. At the same year, Xinjiang attracted more than 150 million domestic and foreign tourists, up more than 40 percent.

With the comprehensive development of economy and society, Xinjiang is also facing severe security challenges. Since the 1990s, especially after 911 in the US,affected by the change of international security situation and the spread of terrorism and extremism, Xinjiang became the hard-hit area. Incomplete statistics show that between 1990 and 2016, separatist, terrorist and extremist forces launched thousands of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, killing large numbers of innocent people and hundreds of police officers, and causing immeasurable property damage and loss. Some bloody and violent cases are still clear in mind. On July 5, 2009, the “East Turkistan” terrorists inside and outside China plotted a riot in Urumqi which shocked the whole world. Thousands of terrorists attacked civilians, government organs, public security and police officers, residential houses, stores and public transportation facilities, causing 197 deaths and over 1,700 injuries, smashing and burning down 331 stores and 1,325 vehicles, and damaging many public facilities. On June 29, 2012, six terrorists attempted to hijack Flight GS7554 from Hotan to Urumqi following the 911 example. On April 30, 2014, two terrorists hid in the crowd in Urumqi Railway Station. One attacked people with his knife and the other detonated a device inside his suitcase, killing 3 and injuring 79. On July 28, 2014, terrorists with knives and axes attacked the government building and police station of Ailixihu Town, Shache County, Kashgar Prefecture. Some then moved on to Huangdi Town where they attacked civilians and smashed and burned passing vehicles, causing 37 deaths and 13 injuries and destroying 31 vehicles. On July 30, 2014, the 74-year-old Senior Mullah Juma Tayier, Vice President of Xinjiang Islamic Association and Imam of the Id Kah Mosque, was brutally killed by three terrorists on his way home after morning Fajr prayer.

Any civilized country and society will not tolerate these atrocities.

Facing the real threats of terrorism and extremism, Xinjiang has been making intensive counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts based on its own conditions. To guarantee the human rights and fight against terrorism and extremism, some practical measures have been taken by the local government such as improving the public well-being, promoting the rule of laws, skill training in vocational centers. In the vocational centers, qualified lecturers and professionals are responsible for the arrangements of education schemes, the curriculum,books,etc. The subjects include standard Chinese language, knowledge of laws, work skills, de-radicalization training and so on. Some tailored and even individualized education programs are offered upon needs of different trainees. The personal freedom and dignity of trainees at the vocational centers are guaranteed in accordance with the law. As in any other education institutions, any insult or abuse in any manner to the trainees are prohibited. A residential education model is employed in the centers which allows trainees to go back home on a regular basis and ask for leave for personal affairs. The trainees also enjoy the freedom of personal communications. Thanks to these preventive measures, Xinjiang sees No Violent Terrorist Incident for 3 Years. The stable soceity is well observed. Ethnic groups live in peace. Life and work are so ever contented.

A stable and prosperous Xinjiang is what the people of Xinjiang really wish to receive. They are most in line with the interests of the people in Xinjiang. Xinjiang is a good place with unique natural and picturesque landscape. There are mountains, deep lakes, vast grasslands and beautiful canyons. The ethnic groups in Xinjiang love singing and dancing. You are welcome to go to Xinjiang to take a look by yourself. I believe that you will not only find the natural beauty of Xinjiang but also feel the sense of security, fulfillment and happiness from the local people.

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