Consul General Fei Mingxing: The Truth about Xinjiang and its Vocational Programme

On 30 December 2019, The Mercury carried an article by Consul General Fei Mingxing entitled The Truth about Xinjiang and its Vocational Programme. The subtitle of this article reads: Contrary to spurious claims, the initiative aims to combat terror, protect human rights. The full text is as follows:


Recently, I noted some misunderstandings in the local media on Xinjiang of China. While wishing all friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I'd like to share with you some truth and facts about Xinjiang.



1.What is Xinjiang?

Situated in northwest China and in the hinterland of the Eurasian Continent, Xinjiang is short for Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. More than 2,000 years ago and beyond, Xinjiang was a gateway for China's civilization to the West and an important base for cultural exchange and communication between the East and the West.


Xinjiang has been home to numerous ethnic groups since remote antiquity, and there are now 13 ethnic groups residing on this vast piece of land. Irrespective of their size of population, degree of development and religious faith, people of all ethnic groups enjoy the same status and the same rights.


The system of regional ethnic autonomy is in place. Xinjiang, while enjoying the legislative power entitled to provincial-level administrative divisions as prescribed by law, has the power to enact regulations on the exercise of regional autonomy and other particular regulations in line with the local political, economic and cultural conditions. The autonomous regional people's congress and its standing committee has formulated about 400 local regulations, passed over 50 regulatory resolutions and decisions and approved more than 100 separate regulations submitted by the various cities, autonomous prefectures or autonomous counties. As the Constitution and relevant state laws prescribe, people of all ethnic groups in the autonomous region directly elect deputies to the people's congresses at county (city or urban district) and township (town) levels, and these deputies then elect deputies to the prefecture (prefecture-level city) people's congress, the people's congress of the autonomous region, and the National People's Congress (NPC). In Xinjiang, as elsewhere in China, citizens aged 18 or above enjoy the right to vote and the right to be elected in accordance with the law.


The right of ethnic minority groups to participate in public affairs is guaranteed. Xinjiang is the only autonomous region in China with all three levels of autonomous divisions. It now has under its jurisdiction five autonomous prefectures and six autonomous counties. People's congresses and people's governments of these autonomous administrative divisions at different levels exercise the autonomous power to administer their local affairs. Chairperson of the autonomous region, governors of autonomous prefectures and heads of autonomous counties are all citizens from the ethnic groups exercising regional autonomy of the said areas. In 1950, there were only about 3,000 ethnic minority officials in Xinjiang. In 2016, the number of ethnic minority officials in the region's civil service reached 91,076, accounting for 40 percent of the region's total. Of them, women officials of ethnic minority origins accounted for more than 66 percent of the total of female officials in Xinjiang.


2. Religion in Xinjiang today?

Xinjiang now has multiple religions, including Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Protestantism, Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church. It has 24,800 venues for religious activities, including mosques, churches, Buddhist and Taoist temples, with 29,300 religious staff. Among these, there are 24,400 mosques, 59 Buddhist temples, 1 Taoist temple, 227 Protestant churches (or meeting grounds), 26 Catholic churches (or meeting grounds) and 3 Orthodox churches (or meeting grounds). On average, there is one mosque for every 530 Muslims.


China, along with most other countries, upholds separation of religion from government. Xinjiang fully respects and protects freedom of religious belief as stipulated in the Chinese Constitution. Xinjiang respects citizens' freedom to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion. Xinjiang shows zero tolerance to any action that creates disputes between believers and non-believers, between believers of different religions, and between believers of different sects of a religion.


Xinjiang always upholds equality for all religions, showing neither favoritism towards nor discrimination against any religion and allowing no religion to be superior to any other religion. Xinjiang always upholds equality for all individuals before the law. Believers and non-believers enjoy equal rights and obligations, and all law violators, whatever their social background, ethnicity and religious belief will be punished in accordance with the law.


3.Why the vocational and education centre in Xinjiang?

Since the 1990s, Xinjiang had suffered thousands of violent terrorist attacks, which caused the death of a large number of innocent people and immeasurable property damage. The reason is that extremism often uses religion as a cover to spread false doctrines to befog the people's minds, deny all secular concepts and modern civilization, and spare no efforts to preach the fallacy that jihad and martyrdom help one go directly to heaven. Extremists uses violent terrorist means to kill innocent people, vainly attempts to split the country and establish an extremist regime under the guise of religion. For example, in the "July 5" incident in Xinjiang that shocked the world in 2009, 197 people were killed and more than 1,700 injured.


Faced with severe circumstances, the government of Xinjiang lawfully fought violent and terrorist crimes while addressing the root causes. The efforts include advancing de-radicalization, economic growth, ethnic solidarity, social harmony and stability. Those endeavors are endorsed by people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and are also China's contribution to the global counter-terrorism cause. Borrowing international counter-terrorism experience, Xinjiang has set up vocational education and training centers in order to root out extreme thoughts, enhance the rule of law awareness through education, improve vocational skills and create employment opportunities for them, so that those affected by extreme and violent ideas can return to society as soon as possible and live a normal life.


Vocational education and training in Xinjiang has succeeded to an enormous extent and is applauded by the international community. No violent terrorist attacks have occurred for the past three years. Religious extremism infiltration has been effectively contained and public security in Xinjiang has notably improved. Since the end of 2018, over 1,000 foreign visitors from more than 70 groups have had sight visits to the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang. Among them are UN officials, diplomatic envoys to China as well as representatives of religious organizations. By visiting Xinjiang on their own, people have realized the urgency, necessity, legality and rationality of anti-terrorist efforts and expressed that the vocational education and training program in Xinjiang fully conforms to the purposes and principles of the United Nations on the preemptive combat against terrorism and the protection of fundamental human rights. Terrorism is a common challenge to all  countries big or small. China is ready to share its successful experience with other countries and continue to contribute to the international counter-terrorism cooperation through strengthening exchanges and cooperation.


There's no place for double standards on counter-terrorism and de-radicalization. However, a few western politicians and some unscrupulous media have been hyping up the so-call issue of vocational education and training in Xinjiang. They made wanton accusations to negate the significant achievements of Xinjiang, rudely interfere in China's internal affairs, deliberately vilify the human rights situation in Xinjiang, slander China's efforts in de-radicalization and combating terrorism. Their wilful purpose is to undermine the prosperity and stability of Xinjiang.


More saddening is to see some friends cheated. China and South Africa are comprehensive strategic partners. While both are concentrating on our respective economic and social progress and tirelessly building a community with a shared future for China and South Africa, we have every reason to be vigilant against any ill intentions and moves of those malicious western states and media, to ensure that we are not misled, not distracted and not used against our will.


I wish all brothers and sisters a joyful festival and a prosperous year of 2020.