Xinjiang critics must visit, make their own assessment

Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Linjian

Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Linjian

Published Sep 19, 2022


Cape Town - When living in Beijing, we often frequented a restaurant with cuisine from Xinjiang, close to the university.

This cuisine is unique, and for us it was an experience to marvel at the diversity of China.

Not many people realise just how diverse China really is. Last year, China’s Information Office released the ninth White Paper on “A Guarantee of Equal Rights for All Ethnic Groups in Xinjiang”.

The White Paper protects the seven comprehensive human rights, and goes further to enshrine freedom of religious belief and equality of all Chinese citizens and ethnic groups.

It is reported that of the 61 members elected to the 13th National People’s Congress in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, nearly two-thirds are from ethnic minorities, while between 1955 to 2020, at constant prices, Xinjiang’s GDP has increased by 160 times and GDP per capita by 30.

Adnan Akfirat, who serves as the deputy head of the International Relations Bureau of Vatan Party in Türkiye, recently wrote that “indeed poverty in southern Xinjiang was eradicated by developing tourism and reviving co-operative farming”.

He goes further to note that “socialism with Chinese characteristics has played the key role in lifting people out of absolute poverty and bringing development and relative prosperity to the mountainous and arid region”.

Yet Xinjiang has been in Western media for all the wrong reasons.

According to Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Linjian: “China has long been a victim of disinformation, and China’s Xinjiang, in particular, has been under heavy attack from the US worldwide campaign to spread disinformation against China.”

Zhao Linjian went further to state categorically: “Xinjiang is a safe and stable place now and enjoys sustained and sound development, and the people there are living happy and fulfilling lives.”

At a seminar held in Islamabad, Pakistan, in mid-August, Sultan Mahmood Hali, a political and strategic analyst, suggested that during his frequent visits to Xinjiang he witnessed a radical improvement in the lives of the people.

“The people of Xinjiang have a very good livelihood, a very good quality of life ... I have seen with my own eyes that they are leading a very peaceful, prosperous life.”

Hali continued by congratulating the Communist Party of China and the government of China “for handling it (Western propaganda) in such a prudent and thoughtful manner”.

At the same event, a researcher at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute – another Pakistani think tank – Hamza Riffat Hussain, stated: “Western media outlets spread negative propaganda against China, and the irony is that the people who spread misinformation have never been to Xinjiang and never witnessed the prosperity in the region.”

But it is this prosperity and development that underpins China’s respect for human rights and the equality of all its ethnic groups, as per the White Paper. Already under the protection of the constitution and laws, all ethnic groups in China are treated equally.

Xinjiang has a rich cuisine and culture. The people from this province are unique, but enjoy the same rights as any Chinese national does. By the sound of it, tourism lies at the very heart of the sustainable development that has been able to take place.

One can therefore only encourage the critics of China, on Xinjiang, to go there and see for themselves the prosperity that has been able to take root in the province.

At the same time, they would therefore be able to contribute to tourism and ensure that they put into practice their concern and care for Xinjiang.

* Seale has a PhD in international relations.

Cape Times

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