Speech at the Briefing on Xinjiang-Related Issues
Aierken Tuniyazi
Member of the Standing Committee of
CPC Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee
and Vice Governor of Xinjiang People's Government)

Distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen:

It is my pleasure to give you a briefing on Xinjiang here. First of all, I would like to thank you for your interest in, support for and help to the region. As one of the 34 provincial-level administrative regions in China, Xinjiang is both important and unique. First, a long history. For thousands of years, people of all ethnic groups of China have been working and living across the region, and jointly developing this part of the country. Second, a sound geographical location. Located at the northwestern border of China and the heartland of Eurasia, it is the core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Third, a vast land. Xinjiang covers an area of more than 1.66 million square kilometers, which accounts for one sixth of China's total territory, and shares a borderline of over 5,700 kilometers with eight neighboring countries. Fourth, cultural diversity. With diverse and brilliant cultures coexisting throughout history, the region is called the home of songs and dances. Fifth, unique natural endowment. Xinjiang has beautiful scenery and abundant resources, making it a wonderful place widely known in China. Sixth, ethnic solidarity and harmony. Xinjiang has always been a multi-ethnic area. It is the common home to 56 ethnic groups, who have united with each other and worked together for common prosperity and development. Seventh, harmonious relations among religions. Since ancient times, Xinjiang has been a place where multiple religions have enjoyed equal status and integrated with each other. Eighth, relatively backward economy. In particular, southern Xinjiang is one of the contiguous poverty-stricken areas in China and a key area for poverty alleviation. Ninth, special social situation. As it has long been afflicted by terrorism and extremism, the region has an arduous task in fighting against terrorism and separatism.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has always attached great importance to the work on Xinjiang. The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core puts Xinjiang in a special position and has made a series of major decisions and arrangements. Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has led its people of all ethnic groups to remain united as one and make solid efforts in promoting all work related to stability and development. Currently, Xinjiang enjoys steady and sound economic development and increasingly stronger ethnic unity. Its people's life keeps improving; its society is harmonious and stable; and it is making progress in all endeavors. Now the region is generally stable, with the situation under control and improving.

Next, I would like to brief you on Xinjiang from the following six aspects.

I. New development philosophy is implemented for high-quality economic development.

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the Central Committee of the Party has been firmly committed to the new philosophy of innovative, coordinated, green, and open development for the benefit of all, bringing about a historic change in the overall development of China. Xinjiang has fully implemented the new development philosophy, made progress while ensuring stability, and focused on supply-side structural reform. It has leveraged reform methods and market mechanisms, and worked hard to promote steady growth, advance reform, adjust structure, improve people’s livelihood, and prevent risks, thus boosting steady and healthy economic development. First, no energy has been spared in fighting the “three critical battles”. We have made great efforts to forestall and defuse major risks, with zero irregular borrowing at all levels of the government, thus holding the bottom line of no systemic financial risk. We have spared no efforts in targeted poverty alleviation. With a focus on the four prefectures in southern Xinjiang, we have adopted a series of effective policy measures to ensure that by 2020, all rural residents living below the current poverty line are lifted out of poverty, and absolute poverty is eradicated. In 2018, 537,000 people, 513 poverty-stricken villages and 3 poverty-stricken counties in the region were lifted out of poverty. The poverty headcount ratio fell to 6.51%. We have worked hard to address pollution. Guided by the vision of green development, we have prohibited industries with high pollution, high energy consumption and high emission from entering Xinjiang, kept enhancing prevention and control of air, water and soil pollution, and striven to build a beautiful Xinjiang with blue sky, green land and clear water. Second, practical efforts have been made in promoting the development of the core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt, rural revitalization and tourism industry. We have actively integrated into BRI development, fully implemented the outcomes of the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in May 2017, and accelerated the development of the core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt. In addition, we held the 6th China-Eurasia Expo, at which contracts were signed for 162 projects, worth RMB 270.9 billion yuan, an increase of 11.98% over the previous session. Following the rural revitalization strategy, we have vigorously promoted industrial, professional, cultural, ecological and organizational revitalization in rural areas. Efforts have been made to help farmers and herdsmen increase income at a faster pace and advance the overall upgrading of agriculture, overall progress of the countryside and all-round development of farmers. As a result, the per capita disposable income growth rate of rural residents is 2 percentage points higher than that of urban residents. We have given full play to Xinjiang's rich and unique tourism resources to make tourism an important engine for high-quality development. In 2018, the number of tourists to Xinjiang exceeded 150 million, an increase of more than 40%. Among them, 2.626 million were inbound tourists, a year-on-year increase of 11.83%; inbound tourism consumption registered 1.223 billion USD, a year-on-year increase of 15.96%. Third, we have opened wider to the outside world. By leveraging Xinjiang’s advantage in geographical location, we have introduced industries, projects and expertise from eastern China, expanded westward opening-up and cooperation and facilitated export of products made in eastern China to central Asian market and beyond. Efforts have been made to actively undertake industrial transfer from inland provinces, steadily press ahead westward opening-up, and quicken the formation of a new pattern of all-round, multi-level and wide-ranging opening-up. Xinjiang will actively participate in the development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, among other economic initiatives, to deepen industrial capacity cooperation with neighboring countries, accelerate the development of export-oriented economy, and promote the transformation from “channel economy” to “industry economy” and “port economy”. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Xinjiang, the same as other parts of China, will open its door even wider to the outside world.

II. People-oriented principle is upheld for constant improvement of the people's well-being.

We have given top priority to the needs of the people of all ethnic groups, and allocated over 70% of the regional government’s general public budget expenditure for ensuring and improving people’s livelihood. We have done our best within our capacity to promote major livelihood programs relating to employment, education, healthcare and social security, making sure that more outcomes of development can be delivered to people of all ethnicities more fairly. First, we have expanded employment through multiple channels. We have focused on creating jobs for college graduates, surplus workforce in both urban and rural areas, and disadvantaged groups. We have carried out the program of helping 100,000 people get jobs within three years in the four prefectures of southern Xinjiang. So far, 88,000 people have already got their jobs. Second, we have prioritized the development of education, consolidated the results of nine-year compulsory education, enhanced "bilingual" education, and boosted vocational education. By the end of 2018, we had achieved full coverage of vocational and technical training for unemployed graduates from middle and high schools. Three-year pre-school free education is provided to all urban and rural areas in the four prefectures of southern Xinjiang. Third, we have improved medical services. We have carried out a healthcare project to provide free physical checkup to all urban and rural residents every year. We have also actively promoted poverty alleviation through health services. All rural impoverished population has got access to centralized medical treatment for nine serious diseases and signed services for chronic diseases. Fourth, we have improved the social security system, such as the urban and rural subsistence allowances, pension insurance, medical insurance, work-related injury insurance, maternity insurance, and social assistance system. We are providing greater life support to our people. Centralized support has been made accessible to the elderly covered by the “Five Guarantees”. Fifth, we have actively addressed people’s concerns and solved many of their problems in various fields, which has substantially enhanced the sense of fulfillment, happiness and security of all ethnic groups.

III. Ethnic solidarity and equality are upheld so that all ethnic groups live in peace and unity and work in concert for harmonious development.

Holding high the banner of unity of all ethnic groups, we have implemented the Party’s ethnic policies to the full and upheld equality of all ethnic groups. First, we have implemented the pairing and assistance program, and mobilized more than 1.12 million civil servants to pair up and establish kin-like relations with 1.69 million households of all ethnic groups, especially those in poverty. Second, we have conducted “relative-visit week” activities on a regular basis, in which civil servants have wholeheartedly and effectively helped solve difficulties in production and life for their “relatives” of all ethnic groups. Third, we have regularly organized activities for ethnic solidarity and fellowship, encouraging officials and people of all ethnic groups to promote understanding and friendship, and strengthening their close contacts, exchanges and interactions in common production, life, learning and work. Fourth, we have extensively promoted ethnic solidarity education in government organs, villages, communities, schools, enterprises, military camps, regiment farms and religious sites, guiding officials and people of all ethnic groups to cherish ethnic solidarity like their own eyes and lives and remain firmly united like the seeds of a pomegranate that stick together. As a result, the spirit of ethnic unity and solidarity is shining across the region, with many beautiful and moving stories. For example, Anipa Alimahong, an old man in Altay Prefecture, adopted 10 orphans of four ethnic groups, namely, Han, Hui, Uygur and Kazak decades ago, and carefully raised them. Another example. Since 1992, Pan Yulian, an elderly lady in Kashi Prefecture, has been holding “Love Classes” to provide more than 2,000 Uygur children with free after-school caring and tutoring. Everyone in the region knows their touching stories.

IV. Policies on freedom of religious belief are upheld to promote the adaption of religions to the socialist society.

China’s Constitution stipulates that citizens have freedom of religious belief. That means every citizen has the freedom to either believe or not believe in religion, the freedom to believe in one religion and one sect of the same religion, the freedom of not believing in any religion in the past but professing a religion now, as well as the freedom of not believing in a religion any more. In accordance with the Constitution, the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy and the Regulations on Religious Affairs, we have strengthened management services for religious affairs and ensured well-ordered organization of normal religious activities under the principle of "protecting lawful activities, stopping illegal ones, curbing extreme ones, resisting infiltration and cracking down on crimes". First, we respect citizens’ freedom of religious belief and customs of religious believers, and meet the normal religious needs of believers in accordance with law. Second, we have made vigorous efforts to improve conditions for mosques and other places of worship. As a result, all the mosques have got access to water, electricity, roads, heating, natural gas, telecommunications, television, radio, library, pre-worship cleansing facilities, water flushed toilets, and first aid services. Third, we regard religious workers as relatives and friends, care about them and have raised their living allowance standards, with each religious worker getting a monthly allowance of between 400 yuan and 2,000 or 3,000 yuan. We have also helped religious groups and colleges improve their office and school conditions, so as to facilitate the normal religious life of believers.

V. All-out efforts are made to focus on the general goal of ensuring social stability and long-term security by effectively combating terrorism and safeguarding stability.

Xinjiang’s remarkable achievements in economic and social development are attributable to our policies and measures to resolutely combat terrorist activities and effectively safeguard social stability. As is known to all, forces of ethnic separatism, religious extremism and violent terrorism were once rampant in Xinjiang which was repeatedly hit by violent terrorist attacks. Especially since the 1990s, these forces have plotted, organized and conducted thousands of violent terrorist attacks including bombings, assassinations, poisoning, arson, assaults, unrest and riots, causing the deaths of a large number of innocent people and hundreds of police officers. These terrorists not only severely undermined Xinjiang’s social stability and China’s national security, but also trampled upon the basic human rights of people of all ethnic groups in the region. For instance, on July 5, 2009, the "East Turkistan" forces at home and abroad colluded with each other in organizing, plotting and committing the violent crimes of beating, smashing, looting and arson in Urumqi, which shocked China and the whole world. Several thousand mobs carried out coordinated attacks in various parts of the city, brutally slaughtered innocent people, and attacked government agencies, public security officers, armed police, civilian residences, shops and public transportation facilities, among others, killing 197 people and injuring more than 1,700. The mobs also smashed and burned 331 shops and 1,325 cars, and damaged numerous municipal public facilities. On May 22, 2014, five terrorists drove two off-road vehicles into the morning market after breaking the fence in North Gongyuan Street, Shayibake District, Urumqi. They plowed into the crowd and detonated explosive devices, killing 39 people and injuring 94. On July 30, 2014, Juma Tayir, the 74-year-old senior mullah of Etigar Mosque, was brutally killed by three terrorists after hosting the morning prayer service. Facing such anti-human, anti-social and anti-civilization atrocities committed by the terrorists and the call of the people of all ethnic groups in the region for intensified efforts against violent terrorism, we resolutely safeguard the sanctity of the law and social justice. We have taken strong measures in accordance with law to strictly prevent and combat terrorist and extremist crimes, and made major progress in fighting terrorism and safeguarding stability. As a result, visible improvements have been made in the social atmosphere and order in Xinjiang. For the past two years and more, no single case of violent terrorism and illegal preaching has occurred, and the number of criminal cases, including those endangering public security, has dropped significantly. People now feel much safer.

VI. Remarkable achievements have been made in eradicating extremism by addressing the root causes.

Violent terrorist activities were once rampant in Xinjiang because the "three forces", under the disguise of ethnicity and religion, exploited people’s ethnic and religious sentiments to incite religious fanaticism and disseminate extremist thoughts, which deceived and influenced large groups of innocent people. The terrorists, extremists and separatists have been preaching that “killing a pagan is better than ten years of prayers, and those who do so can go directly to heaven", and that "jehad is to kill, and martyrdom is to sacrifice one’s own life". These and other absurd preachings have turned some ordinary people into murderous devils, who eventually committed crimes.

Over the past few years, Xinjiang has curbed and combated religious extremism and illegal religious activities in accordance with law. Continuous efforts have been made to eradicate extremism, resolutely ban illegal religion teaching and learning activities, and remove the breeding ground that allowed religious extremism to grow and spread.  

Xinjiang has always followed the rule of law in carrying out vocational education and training. Article 4 of the "Anti-Terrorism Law of the People's Republic of China" stipulates that the state opposes all forms of extremism that uses distortion of religious doctrines or other methods to incite hatred and discrimination or to advocate violence, and that the ideological basis for terrorism should be eliminated. Xinjiang has subsequently formulated Regulations on Religious Affairs of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, enforcement measures of the anti-terrorism law, and deradicalization regulations in the region, all of which serve as powerful legal weapons for curbing and combating terrorism and extremism. In accordance with the above-mentioned laws and regulations, Xinjiang has introduced a policy that combines punishment with leniency in criminal cases and adopted education and redemption measures. A small number of vicious and impenitent leaders and backbone elements of the terrorist groups are severely punished according to law, and vigorous efforts are made in protecting the basic human rights of the citizens from the harm of terrorism and extremism. The majority of those who committed minor offenses or those who have been influenced by religious extremism are mainly educated, saved and protected by providing them with vocational education and training. By bringing them

The vocational education and training centers are teaching institutions in nature with standardized teaching plans, materials and systems. First, since some trainees influenced by religious extremism are relatively under-educated, have a poor command of the country’s common language, and are less capable of accepting modern knowledge and communicating with others, the education and training centers not only fully guarantee the trainees' right to use their own ethnic languages and writings, but also teach them the country’s common language according to law, so as to enhance their ability to use the country’s common language and writing, broaden their access to modern knowledge and information, and help them better adapt to the modern society. Second, considering the poor awareness of the rule of law among the trainees, the education and training centers have made legal knowledge the key link in cultivating and enhancing the awareness of the nation, of citizenship and of the rule of law among the trainees. Systematic lessons on laws and regulations such as the Constitution and the Criminal Law are provided, so that the trainees would realize that citizens must abide by the constitution and laws and act in accordance with the rights and obligations enshrined in the constitution and laws. Third, given the trainees’ lack of vocational skills and difficulties in finding jobs, the centers have made vocational skills training an important way to improve the trainees’ employability. Based on the local needs and employment conditions, various training courses are provided, such as clothing, shoes and hats processing, food processing, electronic product assembly, typesetting and printing, hairdressing and e-commerce. Multi-skill training is also provided to those who have the desire and conditions to learn more, so that each trainee can master one to two professional skills upon completion of the training programs. Fourth, since the trainees are all influenced by religious extremism to varying degrees, deradicalization is integrated throughout the entire education and training process at the centers. Through phased studies of laws and regulations, ethnic and religious policies and religious knowledge, the trainees will recognize that what lies at the heart of violent terrorism is ethnic separatism with religious extremism as the ideological basis.

The vocational education and training centers act in strict accordance with the basic principles and requirements of the Constitution and laws on respecting and protecting human rights. They ensure that the trainees' personal dignity would not be violated, and strictly prohibits any form of insult or abuse against the trainees. Following the model of boarding schools, the centers fully ensure the personal freedom of the trainees who can go home regularly and ask for a leave if needed. The trainees' rights to use their ethnic languages in daily life are fully guaranteed, and the customs and habits of trainees of different ethnicities are respected and protected, and halal food is provided. The trainees' freedom of religious belief is fully respected and protected. Meanwhile, according to the State Council Regulation on Religious Affairs, missionary or religious activities, and the establishment of religious organizations or venues are not allowed in the education and training centers. Equipped with indoor and outdoor sports facilities, the centers organize various cultural and sports activities to guarantee and satisfy the trainees' reasonable needs in learning, living and entertainment.

Over the past 2 years, remarkable progress has been made in vocational education and training which is welcomed and supported by trainees and their families. First, the ability of the trainees to use the national common language has been enhanced. Many of the trainees were unable to speak, read, or write in the national common language. But now, they have acquired the basic listening, communication, reading and writing capabilities. Many trainees said that influenced by religious extremist thoughts, they had refused to learn the national common language. Now they realize that only by learning the national common language can they have greater access to modern knowledge and information, and adapt to modern development. Second, the trainees’ awareness of the rule of law has been enhanced. Many trainees, influenced by religious extremism, had followed the distorted "religious rules and family rules" concocted by terrorist and extremist forces as the code of conduct, ignoring laws or even obstructed the implementation of the laws. Through education, the trainees have come to realize that as citizens, they must abide by the Constitution and laws, and act in accordance with the rights and obligations conferred by the Constitution and laws. Third, the vocational skills of the trainees have been improved. Many trainees had no vocational skills in the past and had difficulty finding a job even though they wanted to. Now, they have acquired certain practical skills and knowledge through vocational education at the centers which made their courses and trainings highly operable and practical. Fourth, religious extremist ideologies have been effectively contained. Through education, the vast majority of the trainees have recognized the nature and danger of terrorism and extremism, and profoundly reflected on illegal and criminal behavior. They now have a much greater awareness of the state, citizenship, rule of law, and the community of the Chinese nation, a greater ability to tell right form wrong and resist extremism, and a stronger desire to lift themselves out of poverty and more confidence in a better future.

Facts have fully proved that the vocational education and training program accords with Xinjiang's counter-terrorism reality. It is our responsible act in countering terrorism and an effective measure to remove the breeding ground of violent terrorist crimes, and to prevent terrorism and extremist crimes. This practice has helped address the global challenge of counter-terrorism as a pioneering and useful step that contributes to the global efforts against terrorism and radicalization. It can be said that we are taking the right path in terms of vocational education and training.

For some time, some have accused the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang of being "prisons" and "concentration camps" which have imprisoned over one million muslims and seriously violated human rights. These are nothing but ill-intentioned smearing aimed at confounding right and wrong. Facts speak louder than words. Recently, we have invited some relevant personnel from some countries and international organizations to visit the education and training centers. Many of them said that what they witnessed was completely different from what's reported by some media outlets with ulterior motives. They believe the vocational education and training program in Xinjiang is successful, and can provide lessons and inspirations for others.

With that I will wrap up my briefing. We sincerely welcome everyone present to Xinjiang to see for yourself what Xinjiang is really like. People in Xinjiang are hospitable. A stable and developing Xinjiang in harmony and solidarity welcomes your visit with openness and confidence. To conclude, I wish you every success and good health. May our friendship last forever!

Thank you all.


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