Exclusive: Spokesper­son of Xin­jiang speaks out

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Cor­re­spon­dents of Global Times re­cently in­ter­viewed the spokesper­son of the Peo­ple’s Govern­ment of Xin­jiang Uyghur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion, speak­ing about the ICIJ’s or­ga­ni­za­tion of mul­ti­ple for­eign me­dia out­lets to fab­ri­cate re­ports about Xin­jiang. The spokesper­son stated that the re­ports pub­lished by the ICIJ and other for­eign me­dia are noth­ing but dis­tor­tions and con­coc­tions to smear Xin­jiang’s vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters, and its counter-ter­ror­ism and de-rad­i­cal­iza­tion work, and that we are res­o­lutely op­posed to such re­ports.

GT: Re­cently, the ICIJ (In­ter­na­tional Con­sor­tium of In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ists) pub­lished an ar­ti­cle about Xin­jiang, il­lus­trat­ing the “per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences” of mul­ti­ple vic­tims in­clud­ing Mirigul Tur­sun and Shay­lagul Sawut­bay. They said that they were harshly mis­treated in the “con­cen­tra­tion camp,”

some “de­tainees” were hung on a wall and they were al­lowed no more than two min­utes to use the bath­room, and at least nine fe­male de­tainees died due to the ter­ri­ble en­vi­ron­ment and med­i­cal con­di­tions. Is what they said true? Spokesper­son: In Au­gust 2019, the State Coun­cil In­for­ma­tion Of­fice of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China is­sued a white pa­per, “Vo­ca­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing in Xin­jiang.” It gave a thor­ough in­tro­duc­tion to the ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters in Xin­jiang. I’d like to stress again that the ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters in Xin­jiang are school in na­ture, set up ac­cord­ing to law. They were never the so-called “con­cen­tra­tion camps” at all. Clin­ics are avail­able in all the cen­ters and pro­fes­sional doc­tors are there to pro­vide 24-hour free med­i­cal ser­vice to trainees. Mi­nor ail­ments are treated at the clinic. In the case of ma­jor and acute ill­nesses, trainees will be sent to hos­pi­tal. The al­leged nine fe­male deaths are pure fab­ri­ca­tions.

The spokesper­son of the For­eign Min­istry of China has clar­i­fied Mirigul Tur­sun’s lies many times. And I’d like to tell you the truth once again. Mirigul Tur­sun, a Uyghur, was a res­i­dent of Qiemo county, Xin­jiang. She was ar­rested by the po­lice of Qiemo county on April 21, 2017, on the charges of in­sti­gat­ing eth­nic ha­tred and eth­nic dis­crim­i­na­tion. Dur­ing that time, as she had con­tracted syphilis and other in­fec­tious dis­eases, the Public Se­cu­rity Bureau of Qiemo county re­voked the com­pul­sory mea­sures on her on May 10, 2017, due to hu­man­i­tar­ian con­sid­er­a­tions. Mirigul was to­tally free in China apart from those 20 days of crim­i­nal de­ten­tion. Ac­cord­ing to rel­e­vant records, from 2010-17, she trav­elled 11 times be­tween China and coun­tries in­clud­ing Egypt, the United Arab Emi­rates, Thai­land and Tur­key. Mirigul has never been locked up by the po­lice of Urumqi, nor has she been put into prison or stud­ied in any vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ter. Mirigul Tur­sun lied that her younger brother was abused, re­sult­ing in his death, in the train­ing cen­ter. Af­ter hear­ing her lies, her younger brother Ak­ber Tur­sun said, “My sis­ter al­ways tells lies. She also said she had seen other peo­ple dead, be­sides me.”

Shay­lagul Sawut­bay, a fe­male, Chi­nese ci­ti­zen and eth­nic Kazak, be­came the head of the cen­tral kinder­garten in Cha­han­wu­song Town, Zhaosu county, Yili Pre­fec­ture, Xin­jiang, in April 2016. In March 2018, she was dis­missed by the lo­cal ed­u­ca­tional au­thor­ity and re­lo­cated as a teacher to a pri­mary school in Cha­han­wu­song Town, Zhaosu county, Yili Pre­fec­ture, be­cause of her in­com­pe­tency for her pre­vi­ous post and in­fring­ing on other teach­ers’ in­ter­ests by seek­ing per­for­mance bonuses through cheat­ing. She is a suspect of fraud, and 249,000 yuan is still un­re­cov­ered from her. She has never worked in any vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ter, and had never been im­pris­oned be­fore she il­le­gally went abroad. Where on earth did she see “trainees be­ing hung on walls” or “re­stricted to use the toi­let within two min­utes”? To avoid le­gal pun­ish­ment, she trav­elled to Kaza­khstan and ac­quired refugee sta­tus by cheat­ing, mak­ing up many lies about Xin­jiang, which is de­spi­ca­ble.

GT: In a re­cent Xin­jiang-re­lated re­port from The New York Times, the July 5 riot was called an eth­nic re­sis­tance sup­pressed by the govern­ment. What is your com­ment on this? Spokesper­son: There has long been a fi­nal ver­dict on the July 5 riot in Urumqi, and many main­stream for­eign me­dia re­ported the facts of the in­ci­dent 10 years ago. In the riot, the “East Turk­istan” forces at home and abroad col­luded with each other in or­ga­niz­ing, plot­ting and com­mit­ting seri

ous vi­o­lent crimes – beat­ing, smash­ing, loot­ing and ar­son, killing 197 peo­ple in­clud­ing Uyghurs, in­jur­ing more than 1,700, and caus­ing im­mea­sur­able prop­erty loss. Un­til to­day, many fam­i­lies have not yet come out of the shad­ows as the trauma still lingers.

In­stead of con­demn­ing the heinous and in­hu­mane vi­o­lent ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity, The New York Times glo­ri­fies it as an “eth­nic re­sis­tance.” This is a typ­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of dou­ble stan­dards on coun­tert­er­ror­ism and de­rad­i­cal­iza­tion. It vi­o­lates ba­sic pro­fes­sional ethics and hu­man con­science, and is de­spised by all good and just peo­ple. Ac­cord­ing to the logic of The New York Times, aren’t the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks also an eth­nic re­sis­tance, sup­pressed by the US govern­ment?

GT: Ear­lier this year, Olsi Jazexhi a jour­nal­ist from Al­ba­nia, vis­ited Xin­jiang and said that he saw with his own eyes that Xin­jiang was car­ry­ing out a mas­sive geno­cide, and that the vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters were an Al­ca­traz prison in the mid­dle of the desert. What is your com­ment on this? Spokesper­son: From Au­gust 17 to 23, 2019, Olsi Jazexhi made a field visit to Changji, Aksu and Kashi in Xin­jiang with more than 20 for­eign me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 16 coun­tries such as Rus­sia and Tur­key. De­spite the fact that Olsi Jazexhi said dur­ing his visit that the study­ing and liv­ing con­di­tions in the vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters were very good, he ig­nored the facts and spread false in­for­ma­tion to the public when he re­turned home. The videos he pub­lished do not con­tain any pic­tures or record­ings of in­ter­views in Xin­jiang. He is talk­ing en­tirely on his own. This kind of be­hav­ior se­ri­ously vi­o­lates the ba­sic pro­fes­sional ethics of jour­nal­ism, and the in­ten­tion is evil.

In fact, all other mem­bers from the for­eign me­dia del­e­ga­tion who had vis­ited the same places re­ported the op­po­site of what Olsi Jazexhi did. For ex­am­ple, Dim­itri Yevgeny, a po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor and China spe­cial­ist from RIA Novosti, said in an in­ter­view – which I will di­rectly quote – that, “I have seen that this is a school, it’s a way to com­bat ter­ror­ism. We are com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism in Rus­sia, and we have a lot to learn from China. We need to co­op­er­ate and face the chal­lenge to­gether. The mea­sures China took can be ex­am­ples for other coun­tries.” The chief

ed­i­tor of Mon­go­lian news­pa­per Ben Menghetula said in an in­ter­view that, “Be­fore I came to Xin­jiang, China, I heard some me­dia re­ports said that the Chi­nese govern­ment had gath­ered lots of young peo­ple in con­cen­tra­tion-camp-like places, brain­washed them and did not al­low them to go out, so on and so forth. But af­ter I came to the vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ter and saw it with my own eyes, I re­al­ized that it was all ill-in­ten­tioned pro­pa­ganda made by the Western me­dia.” Rus­tam Atovul­loev, an ex­pert of hu­man rights in Uzbek­istan, said that “China has al­ways pro­tected the rights of peo­ple who be­lieved in Is­lam and the de­vel­op­ment of Is­lam as well. The sta­tis­tics shared by the Chi­nese govern­ment in­di­cate that at present, there are 24,300 mosques and the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion has reached 11.3 mil­lion in Xin­jiang.”

Since the end of 2018, nearly 1,000 peo­ple from more than 90 coun­tries and re­gions have vis­ited Xin­jiang. They have all rec­og­nized that the com­pre­hen­sive de-rad­i­cal­iza­tion mea­sures adopted by the Xin­jiang au­thor­i­ties, such as of­fer­ing the vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams, have made an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to in­ter­na­tional

ef­forts to fight against ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism, and ac­cu­mu­lated valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence of sig­nif­i­cant ref­er­ence value. The vi­cious deeds car­ried out by Olsi Jazexhi will not suc­ceed.

GT: Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, more and more ev­i­dence shows that there has been forced la­bor in the vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters in Xin­jiang. What is your re­sponse? Spokesper­son: The vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters in Xin­jiang pro­vide var­i­ous cour­ses to the trainees, such as the stan­dard spo­ken and writ­ten Chi­nese lan­guage, knowl­edge of laws and reg­u­la­tions, vo­ca­tional train­ing pro­grams and de-rad­i­cal­iza­tion cour­ses. To rem­edy a lack of oc­cu­pa­tional skills and em­ploy­ment dif­fi­cul­ties, vo­ca­tional skill­strain­ing pro­grams are of­fered. The ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters re­gard vo­ca­tional skills as an im­por­tant step to im­prov­ing the trainees’ abil­ity to find jobs. Based on lo­cal de­mand and em­ploy­ment con­di­tions, the cour­ses may in­clude food pro­cess­ing, type­set­ting and print­ing, hairdressi­ng and beauty ser­vices, in­te­rior de­sign and dec­o­ra­tion, live­stock breed­ing, hor­ti­cul­ture, ther­a­peu­tic massage, house­hold ser­vices, hand­i­crafts, flower ar­range­ment, rug weav­ing, paint­ing, per­form­ing arts such as mu­sic and dance, and so on. El­i­gi­ble trainees can pick up more than one skill if they wish. The cour­ses are de­liv­ered in two cat­e­gories: the­o­ret­i­cal stud­ies taught in class­rooms and ac­tual skills prac­ticed in work­shops. Prac­ti­cal train­ing is con­ducted af­ter trainees have mas­tered the the­o­ries to im­prove their skills, and no ac­tual prod­ucts are made. Hence, the so-called forced la­bor does not ex­ist at all. Most of the trainees have en­hanced their em­ploy­ment abil­i­ties through the ed­u­ca­tion and skills-train­ing pro­grams.

Af­ter com­plet­ing their train­ing pro­grams, trainees are free to find jobs on their own, or gain em­ploy­ment with the as­sis­tance of rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties. Many trainees have gone on to find em­ploy­ment in fac­to­ries or en­ter­prises, and some have even started their own busi­nesses. Some of them have cho­sen to con­tinue their stud­ies in lo­cal se­condary and higher vo­ca­tional schools in or­der to pre­pare them­selves bet­ter for the fu­ture. Qual­i­fied trainees who find em­ploy­ment in en­ter­prises sign con­tracts of la­bor as for­mal staff and have their salaries paid ac­cord­ing to the La­bor Law and La­bor Con­tract Law of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China. But pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties per­formed for their em­ploy­ers and the prod­ucts sold by these fac­to­ries and en­ter­prises have no re­la­tion to the vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters.

GT: It is re­ported that Dar­ren Byler, an an­thro­pol­o­gist of George Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity, and Adrian Zenz, a scholar on Xin­jiang and China, al­leged that Xin­jiang had in­terned over 1 mil­lion Uyghurs, Kaza­khs and other Mus­lim mi­nori­ties who all are sub­ject to per­se­cu­tion in in­tern­ment. What’s your an­swer to such al­le­ga­tions? Spokesper­son: As far as I know, Dar­ren Byler and Adrian Zenz are the hard­core mem­bers of the “re­search group on Xin­jiang’s ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters,” an aca­demic body al­legedly set up and con­trolled by US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. They co­or­di­nated with an­tiChina forces within the US to spread false and purely fab­ri­cated re­marks on Xin­jiang in the ca­pac­ity of al­leged ex­perts. They would do any­thing they could to de­fame and smear Xin­jiang with ground­less aca­demic find­ings as sup­port, which are, of course, the typ­i­cal tricks used by some Amer­i­cans.

These cen­ters are ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing in­sti­tu­tions in na­ture. They em­ploy a res­i­den­tial ed­u­ca­tion model which al­lows trainees to go back home on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and ask for leave to at­tend to per­sonal af­fairs. Trainees also en­joy the free­dom of cor­re­spon­dence. The cen­ters guar­an­tee that trainees’ per­sonal dig­nity is in­vi­o­lable, and pre­vent in­sults or abuses in any man­ner. A re­port from Tur­key’s DHA on May 15, 2019, said, “The cen­ters pro­vide hu­man­based man­age­ment and ser­vices for the trainees. There is no mal­treat­ment or re­stric­tions on per­sonal free­dom. The trainees are happy to study and live there. What I saw and felt dur­ing the visit was very dif­fer­ent from the neg­a­tive pro­pa­ganda of the US and other Western coun­tries, and I felt their dou­ble stan­dards were sim­ply rude and un­rea­son­able.”

The num­ber of trainees in the ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing pro­gram is not fixed; some are com­ing in while oth­ers are go­ing out. As ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing work is ef­fec­tively ad­vanced, the vast ma­jor­ity of trainees have at­tained the train­ing cri­te­ria and com­pleted their cour­ses, and they are work­ing and liv­ing well. The “1 mil­lion peo­ple” claim is to­tally base­less, com­plete dis­tor­tion and fab­ri­ca­tion.

Since their ini­ti­a­tion, there has never been a for­eigner in Xin­jiang’s vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing cen­ters. Re­cently, the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion falsely claimed that Xin­jiang had cap­tured 23 Aus­tralian ci­ti­zens, and that 15 adults and 6 chil­dren from the Uyghur com­mu­nity in Aus­tralia had been de­tained. This is pure fab­ri­ca­tion and den­i­gra­tion, which vi­o­lates press ethics.

Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Tourists take selfie in Xin­jiang.

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