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Jerusalem Post Publishes the Article of the Embassy's Spokesperson Entitled "Some Questions and Answers about Xinjiang"

On 13 August, 2019, Jerusalem Post, Israel's largest-circulating English newspaper, published an Op-Ed of Counsellor Wang Yongjun, Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Israel, entitled "Some Questions and Answers about Xinjiang". The full text is as follows:

The article "Turkey's support for Uygurs is a sham" published on the Jerusalem Post dated 4th August raised concerns on human rights and freedom of religious belief of the minorities in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. Unfortunately, some arguments in the article are not true. I would like to clarify some questions regarding Xinjiang.

1. How has the security situation changed in Xinjiang?

In the past decade, the surge in religious extremism around the world has caused a rise in religious extremism in Xinjiang. Terrorist and extremist forces launched thousands of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang. On 5th July, 2009, the terrorist and extremist forces inside and outside China engineered a riot in Urumqi which caused 197 deaths and injuries to over 1,700.

Faced with the severe situation, the Chinese government struck severely at all forms of terrorism while launched a series of de-radicalization efforts, and achieved remarkable results. No violent or terrorist activities have occurred in Xinjiang for the past three years; the number of criminal and public security cases has fallen significantly; the infiltration of extremism has been significantly curbed.

2. What are the so called "re-education camps"?

First of all, there are no "re-education camps" in Xinjiang. With the goal of de-radicalization, the Chinese government established some education and training centers in accordance with the law. The centers' curricula consists of reading and writing, law as well as vocational skills, and are offered to the trainees who are under influence of extremism for free. The centers maintain a dynamic management of the trainees. Most of the trainees have returned home after completing their study and more than 90% of them have found jobs with decent salaries.

The idea of establishing education and training centers are based on international anti-terrorism practice and experiences. It is a similar practice as "Prevent" of the United Kingdom's counter-terrorism strategy, "Community Correction" of the Untied States and the "Entrepreneurship Education" initiated by the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism of the UN.

3. Are the people in Xinjiang enjoying freedom of religious belief?

Absolutely. China is a unified multiethnic country. There are 47 ethnic groups, including the Uygurs, living in the region of Xinjiang, and all of them are Chinese citizens. In Xinjiang, different cultures and religions coexist, and Islam is neither an indigenous nor the sole belief system of the Uygurs. The government fully respects and protects freedom of religious belief as stipulated in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, and respects citizens' freedom to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion.

In Xinjiang, there are about 24,400 mosques, more than those in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France combined, second to Indonesia, the country home to 200 million Muslims. The Chinese government organizes thousands of Chinese Muslims to pay pilgrimages to Mecca by chartered planes every year, translate and publish Islamic classic works in various languages including Mandarin, Uygur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz etc..

Last month, 51 Ambassadors to the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) co-signed a letter to the President of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, voiced their support for China's position on issues related to Xinjiang. Other countries expressed support in their separate letters and press releases. They commend China for its effective counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures, and strong guarantee of human rights.

It is worth mentioning that among the 51 signatories, 28 of which are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIS). Facts speak louder than words. Those Islamic countries won't show their unequivocal support for China's policies towards Xinjiang if not trusting in Chinese government's firm stance on counter-terrorism and de-radicalization, and protection on its Muslim minorities' rights.

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