By Spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in Grenada
In recent years, the government of China Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has taken various strong measures to curb and eradicate extremism, which achieved good social governance and were supported by people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. However, out of the expectation of the vast majority of Chinese people, some foreign politicians, without serious study of the actual facts, attacked Xinjiang’s practice as violating human rights of Uyghur.
Some ill-intentioned western media also followed up to vilify Chinese government’s good laws and governance, discredit China’s image. These unfriendly reports with prejudice caused very bad and negative effects. To some extent, it could be regarded as a support to the extremism and terrorism. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure a correct understanding and make it clear on the matter.
A correct conclusion can be drawn only after rational analysis and objective evaluation, instead of making judgment with coloured glasses, nor to politicise or label it excessively. In fact, to combat and eradicate extremism, which is called “de-extremisation” in China, is definitely a good governance from the perspective of state governance and a concrete manifestation of the Chinese government’s implementation of good governance.
First, de-extremisation is the manifestation of the rule of law. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China promulgated the “Anti-terrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China” in 2015, in which Articles 19, 28, 30, 80, 81, 82, 84 laid down principles, guidelines and measures to prevent and punish extremism.
The law came into force on Jan. 1, 2016.
In accordance with the law, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government formulated local regulations for implementing counterterrorism law and de-extremisation regulations and adopted measures to eradicate extremism. This is strictly in accordance with the law and is an inevitable requirement for fulfilling the government’s law enforcement duties. There is nothing wrong with it.
If these law enforcement measures were not taken, it would be considered as dereliction of duty, violating the requirements of governing the country according to law. And this has no essential differences with the USA passing “USA Patriot Act” after the “September 11 attacks” and the US authority’s cracking down on terrorism and extremism.
Second, de-extremisation is a necessary measure to prevent terrorism.
Since the “September 11 attacks” in the United States, large-scale terrorist incidents have occurred in London, Madrid, Paris, Moscow and other places, and almost each of these is closely related to Islamic extremism. Those perpetrators are misinterpreting and defiling Islam, engaging in evil terrorist activities and endangering the safety of life and property of civilians including Muslims.
In 2009, the July 5 Riots in Urumqi, Xinjiang was the Chinese version of “September 11 attacks”. It killed 197, injured more than 1,700, and caused colossal damage to property. After that, thousands of terrorist attacks occurred in Xinjiang, causing thousands of casualties. The evil terrorists were almost all extremists.
Believing in terrorism and extremism, the attackers attempted to create social panic, endanger public safety and violate personal and property security through violence, destruction and intimidation to achieve the Taliban-style ideology. Therefore, after careful analysis and assessment of the root causes of terrorism in Xinjiang, the Chinese government believes that we must prevent, contain and eradicate extremism before we prevent and contain terrorism.
Based on this, Xinjiang’s decision to take measures to eradicate extremism and prevent terrorism through ideological and cultural education is a necessary, wise and correct decision.
Third, de-extremisation is the requirement of safeguarding human rights and freedom in Xinjiang. Xinjiang is located in the western border of China. It has a population of more than 24 million, consisting of 47 ethnic groups, among which the Uyghur accounts for about 45%. Many Uyghur believe in Islam, but not the whole ethnic group. The Han ethnic group in Xinjiang hardly believes in Islam.
Among other 45 ethnic groups, there are quite a number of people who do not believe in Islam. That is to say, more than half Xinjiang residents are not Muslims. However, some religious extremists used illegal means to interfere with the religious freedom of non-believers, forcing them to believe in Islam, to participate in religious activities and to provide properties or services to Islamic sites and personnel. That has seriously infringed on those peoples’ freedom of religious belief.
Some extremists even ban others from selling pork and other non-halal foods and intervene in the secular life of others; some religious extremists intervene in the activities like marriage and funeral, prohibiting intermarriage between Uyghur and other ethnic groups and interfering with their freedom of marriage; some extremists expel the villagers of the Han and other ethnic groups from their residence or prohibit them from communicating with the Uyghurs.
Some extremists use loudspeakers in public space to interfere with others’ normal life and entertainment; some force their wives and daughters to change traditional Uyghur costumes into burqa-clad and extremist markers, some people use religious ceremonies to replace legal regulations in marriage; some extremists deprive their children of the right of receiving free national compulsory education and hinder the implementation of the national education system; some extremists publish, print, sell, distribute illegal propaganda materials to preach extremism; some extremists advocate ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination, and use a disparaging “Keidayi” to name the Han ethnic group.
Obviously, for a period of time, various extremist activities reached an unparalleled level, which was extremely harmful to the rule of law, human rights and freedom in Xinjiang. It is unacceptable not only in China, but also in United States and Europe.
Fourth, de-extremisation is an initiative to disseminate international recognised values and views. The Chinese Constitution clearly advocate the core socialist values such as prosperity, strong democracy, civilisation and harmony, advocate freedom, equality, justice and the rule of law, advocate patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendliness.
De-extremisation is to encourage economic development in Xinjiang, to build Xinjiang into a region with developed economy and harmonious society, a region with modern civilisation, good order, a region with religious freedom where citizens are free from illegal infringement and not forced to change religious believes, a region which adheres to the rule of law, safety, order and guarantees normal life order, production order and education order.
It aims at building Xinjiang into a place where the vast majority of the people, including the Uyghur, enjoy the right to education, love to work and live a good life. It will enable people in Xinjiang to live and develop in a peaceful, friendly and harmonious environment.
De-extremisation is not to force people to change their religious beliefs, but to improve people’s livelihood and reduce poverty through education and training. It focuses on Chinese mandarin language learning, legal dissemination, labour skills training and humanistic care. It is a process of mutual promotion through implementing psychological counseling, behaviour correction and ideological education, using religious beliefs to clarify the original source and refute fallacy and guide the religious people to establish normal beliefs and consciously resist extremism, so as to restore to a normal and healthy inner mood.
Fifth, de-extremisation is an important measure to promote the protection of Uyghur culture. The Uygur is an ethnic group with long history and highly developed civilisation. It is also an important member in the Chinese family. In the long history of development, the Uyghur have created a brilliant civilisation.
Before the birth of Islam in the 7th century, the ancestors in Xinjiang, including the Uyghur, had successively believed in Buddhism, Shamanism, Zoroastrianism and other religions.
The history of Islam in Xinjiang is not long, but today some religious extremists are trying to force all residents in Xinjiang to change their faith and believe into Islam.
The Uyghur are good at singing and dancing, they have created countless brilliant music and dances. However, nowadays, some extremists forbid ladies to sing and dance in public, listen to popular music and wear bright clothes. On the contrary, they force them to live a Taliban-style life and completely change the living habits of Uyghur. This is clearly destroying the Uyghur culture.
Therefore, de-extremisation is to rescue Uyghur culture and to protect the integrity of the Uyghur spiritual world.
Sixth, de-extremisation is the only way to keep religion and government separated and prevents religious interference with secular society, politics and economy. Since Xinjiang is neighbouring Afghanistan, during Taliban’s administration in Afghanistan in 1990s, Taliban-affected extremists used various means to infiltrate Xinjiang and spread extreme religious ideas, poisoning a large number of people in southern Xinjiang.
The extremist forces even attempted to replicate the Taliban-style system of political and religious unity in Xinjiang. This is a serious violation of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and is absolutely not allowed. China is a socialist country ruled by law. The Constitution prohibits unification of the state and the church.
Religious organisations or figures are not allowed to intervene in political, economic and social affairs. Therefore, de-extremisation in Xinjiang, in essence, is to govern the country according to the constitution and laws.
In the United States and European countries, the unification of the state and the church is not allowed either, and religious organisations or individuals are strictly prohibited from interfering in political, economic, and social affairs. Therefore, it is hypocritical and unethical for anyone to engage in double standards on this issue.
The world today is facing such ideological trends as extremism, terrorism, populism and anarchist liberalism, which had a great impact on the politics, economy and social affairs all over the world and deeply affected the international community. It is a top priority for all governments and peoples throughout the world how to take measures to get rid of harmful thoughts in the new era of peaceful development, carry forward the ideas conducive to human development and guide the international community to a bright future.
The Chinese government and people have stood up for the forefront, taken its responsibility, raised the banner of anti-extremism and carried out de-extremisation, achieving very fruitful results. In the past two years, no violent terrorist attacks ever occurred and the number of criminal cases dropped significantly. It is a major achievement of China. It shows China’s responsibility as a major country and a great contribution to the cause of counter-terrorism after the September 11 attacks. It should be cheered by all the people in the world.