Morgunblaðið Publishes A Signed Article by Ambassador Jin Zhijian Entitled Some facts on the Xinjiang-Related Issues in China

On August 10 2019, the famous Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið published a signed article by Ambassador Jin Zhijian entitled Some facts on the Xinjiang-Related Issues in China, and received wide attention from all walks of life in Iceland. The full text is as follows:

Recently some Icelandic media published certain articles and editorials on Xinjiang-related issues in China with many false information and misleading opinions. In order to help the readers have a thorough and proper understanding of the Xinjiang-related issues, I would like to make a brief introduction on this subject from the following aspects:

1. Xinjiang is a multi-ethnic region

Located in the northwest of China, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is one of the five ethnic autonomous regions in China. There resides all of the 56 ethnic groups in China with the Uighurs and Hans accounting for 48% and 37% respectively. Xinjiang is not only the homeland of all ethnic groups, but also an integral part of the common homeland of the Chinese nation.

2. Xinjiang has suffered from terrorism and extremism for some time

Since the 1990s, especially after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, the terrorism, extremism and separatism forces in China and abroad 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, as well as immeasurable property damage. The horrific crimes of terrorists have brought profound disasters to the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, which not only severely undermined the stable and peaceful order and the atmosphere of solidarity and progress of Xinjiang, but also trampled upon the essential human rights of people of all ethnic groups in the region, such as their rights to life, health, property and development, and human dignity at large.

3. It is imperative to fight terrorism and extremism in accordance with law

Fighting terrorism and eradicating extremism is a global challenge which should be addressed proactively by the international community. Facing the grave threat of terrorism and extremism as well as the pressing anti-terrorism desire of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, the local government has resolutely taken measures in preventing and combating violent terrorist crimes in accordance with law. While fulfilling the reasonable demands of religious believers by protecting the lawful religious activities and the legitimate rights and interests of citizens and organizations, it strikes severely at all forms of terrorism on one hand, and actively explored preventive anti-terrorism and deradicalization measures on the other, including setting up Vocational Education and Training Centers, aiming to educate and rehabilitate the individuals who have been influenced by extremist ideologies so they are not victimized by and fall prey to terrorism and extremism and could return to the society as soon as possible rather than cracking down on them once they become terrorists endangering others and the society. This is essentially a preventative treatment and a precautious measure. There is no difference between a training center and a boarding school. Courses on the national common language, legal knowledge and professional skills help the trainees deradicalize. The trainees can go home regularly, ask for a leave when needed and make phone or video calls to their family, and their family members can come to the training centers to visit them. Upon completion of the courses, the trainees will be recommended for employment or self-employment by the school and the government. The training centers provide free accommodations and safeguard all basic rights of the trainees in accordance with law to meet their needs in study, life and entertainment. The centers are by no means "concentration camps". After a few months or a year of study, most of the students succeeded in getting employed and lifting the whole family out of poverty, which helps the cause of poverty alleviation as well.

In fact, the exploration of Xinjiang on counter-terrorism has also been inspired by the de-redicalization methods of some western countries. For example, some European countries have set up anti-extremist courses in middle schools, published regulations to ban the wearing of masked robes, and closely monitored people with extremist thoughts. In general, the establishment of Vocational Education and Training Centers is a preventive counter-terrorism initiative and another important contribution of China to the international counter-terrorism cause.

4. Xinjiang is a free and safe place

Xinjiang has taken various measures to protect citizens' freedom of religious belief, safeguard the cultural rights and the rights of all ethnic groups to use their own ethnic languages. In Xinjiang where people from ten ethnic groups following Islam, there are 24,400 mosques, which means average 530 Muslims share one mosque, a figure much higher than in many other parts of the world. Normal religious activities are protected by law. Fine traditional cultures of ethnic minorities are protected and developed. Ethnic minority languages are widely used in judicature, administration, education, press and publication, radio and television, the internet and social public affairs. The rights of women, children, the aged and people with disabilities are fully respected and protected by law. The series of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures taken in Xinjiang have turned the situation around. For almost three years in a row, not a single violent and terrorist incident has taken place in Xinjiang. The region now enjoys social stability and unity among all ethnic groups. People there are living a happy life with a stronger sense of fulfillment and security. They endorse the government's policies and measures wholeheartedly.

5.The international society speaks highly of the counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang

The issues Xinjiang faces are counter-terrorism and de-radicalization rather than religion and human rights ones. Since last year, Xinjiang Education and Training Centers have received thousands of media friends, diplomats, experts and scholars, human rights organization officials and religious figures from dozens of countries. Most visitors believe that the Education and Training Centers are effective to curb violent crimes of terrorism and the spread of extremism. Recently Ambassadors of 50 countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe to the UN Office at Geneva co-signed a letter to the President of the UN Human Rights Council and High Commissioner for Human Rights. They spoke highly of the social and economic development in China, the achievements of China's counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures as well as the protection of human rights. They supported China's position on Xinjiang-related issues and collectively pointed out that the Vocational Education and Training Centers and other counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang have effectively protected basic human rights.

"You do not know whether the shoes fit until you put them on."The best-qualified to speak on Xinjiang are the Xinjiang people of all ethnic groups and the whole Chinese nation. We hope that Icelandic people can view the Xinjiang-related issues from an objective perspective, do not blindly follow and be easily convinced by some hearsay or the one-sided reports from some media. We welcome all of you to make field visits to Xinjiang, and see for yourselves the beautiful scenery and profound changes taking place in Xinjiang.

Jin Zhijian, Chinese Ambassador to Iceland