No terror strike in Xinjiang since camps set up 3 years ago, says Beijing

Updated on Aug 16, 2019 03:05 PM IST

Beijing said that Xinjiang has set up vocation centres to remedy religious extremism and terrorist incidents.

(Reuters FILE/ Representative Image)
(Reuters FILE/ Representative Image)
Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis

There has been no terrorist incident in China’s northwestern Xinjiang province since the government set up “education and training” camps three years ago, a new policy paper said Friday, also indicating that the camps will continue to operate in the future.

It said that Xinjiang has set up vocation centres to remedy religious extremism and terrorist incidents.

“In order to effectively contain and systematically remedy the dissemination of religious extremism and frequent terrorist incidents, Xinjiang has set up vocational education and training centers in some prefectures and counties,” the paper said.

“These centres are education and training institutions in nature. To meet the needs of fighting terrorism and extremism, these centers deliver a curriculum that includes standard spoken and written Chinese, understanding of the law, vocational skills, and deradicalisation.”

The new “white paper” is the latest in Beijing’s continued propaganda to justify its controversial policies in the remote Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) where at least a million Muslim Uyghurs are said to be housed in detention centres in suspicion of terror links.

Beijing has never revealed how many people are in the camps, and admitted the existence of the centres – calling it vocational training institutes – only late last year.

Titled Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang, the white paper said: “No terrorist incidents have occurred in Xinjiang for nearly three years since the education and training started.”

“As the infiltration of religious extremism has been curbed, public order and security have returned to society, where equality, solidarity and harmony among ethnic groups and religions have prevailed, and people are enjoying peace and stability,” the white paper added.

“Between 1990 and the end of 2016 separatists, religious extremists and terrorists plotted and carried out several thousand acts of terrorism such as bombings, assassinations, poisoning, arson, assaults, and riots in Xinjiang. Many innocent people were killed and several hundred police officers died in the line of duty. The property losses incurred were enormous,” it added.

Beijing has come under sharp international criticism from the UN and western countries for setting up the camps and for its hardline policies in the remote region.

China’s alleged propaganda to counter the criticism includes carrying out controlled visit to the region for diplomats and journalists.

Journalists have no independent access to the camps.

The new white paper, for example, claims the international community supports its policies.

“The international community has made positive comments on the education and training efforts of Xinjiang,” the white paper, released by the State Council Information Office, said.

“Since the end of December 2018, nearly 1,000 people including foreign diplomatic envoys to China, UN officials, Geneva-based senior diplomats of various countries, as well as more than 40 groups (or delegations) from political parties, civil society organizations, news media, and religious organisations of various countries have visited Xinjiang,” it said.

“Through field trips, many have realised the truth and understood the urgency, necessity, legitimacy and rationality of carrying out education and training. They have all recognized that violent and inhumane terrorist activities in the region, provoked by religious extremism, were causing outrage,” the white paper said.

The policy paper said three particular prefectures were badly impacted by “religious extremism”.

“For some time Xinjiang, especially Kashgar Prefecture, Hotan Prefecture, Aksu Prefecture and Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture in the south, where religious extremism has had a long and widespread presence, suffered badly from frequent acts of terrorism,” the policy paper said.

“Large numbers of people were involved and even more were affected. The scale of the problem posed a serious challenge to China’s efforts in fighting terrorism and extremism,” it added.

The white paper made no mention of other controversial measures implemented by the government in the state including curbs on Islamic religious practices and even on keeping beards by Muslim men.

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