White pa­per sets Xin­jiang facts straight, cites suc­cesses

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Li Ruo­han

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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