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Friday, June 21, 2019, 12:40
Fighting terror to protect human rights
By Chang Jian
Friday, June 21, 2019, 12:40 By Chang Jian

That some Western media outlets are criticizing UN counter-terrorism chief for visiting the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region last week is outrageous. Perhaps they are censuring Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov because, influenced by their prejudice against China, they assume China has been violating human rights in Xinjiang. But the fact is that the central and regional governments have been making sincere efforts to improve the lives of the people in Xinjiang.

Terrorism, which seriously tramples human rights, is the common enemy of the international community. In recent years, swayed by the idea of separatism, terrorists have attacked government agencies and ordinary people, killed religious figures, endangered public security, and instigated riots in Xinjiang. In fact, terrorists have committed more than 2,000 crimes between 2014 and 2016, violating basic human rights such as the right to life, personal freedom, and the right to property of people of all ethnic groups. Which have undermined the rule of law, and economic and social development in Xinjiang.

To protect the human rights of all Xinjiang residents and maintain legal and social order, the central government has cracked down on all forms of terrorism and banned illegal and criminal activities including spreading extremism through religious activities, and scheming to split the country.

Xinjiang has busted 1,588 violent terrorist groups, captured 12,995 violent terrorists, seized 2,052 explosive devices, investigated 4,858 illegal religious activity cases involving 30,645 people, and confiscated 345,229 illegal religious propaganda materials from 2014 to March 2019. To prevent the spread of terrorism and extremism, the central government has banned illegal religious activities, illegal religious propaganda materials and online dissemination of illegal religious sermons and hatred for other faiths; contained the spread of religious extremism; and curbed the intervention of religious extremist forces in the administration, judiciary, marriage rituals and the education and healthcare systems. It has also established vocational training centers for minor offenders in order to save them from being sacrificed on the altar of terrorism and extremism.

Thanks to vocational training, many minor offenders have improved their ability to use standard language and characters, understood the necessity of respecting the Constitution and obeying the law, and learned necessary job skills apart from realizing that terrorism and extremism cause immense harm to people of all ethnic groups.

The central government and local governments at all levels in Xinjiang have implemented strong measures to improve the livelihoods of the local people. Between 2016 and 2018, about 1.4 million new urban jobs were created and 8.3 million surplus laborers shifted from rural areas to be employed. Nearly 15.9 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion) of aid was allocated to facilitate Xinjiang's development, and 256 billion yuan invested in economic cooperation programs in 2018. Besides, the registered urban unemployment rate was as low as 3.3 percent, urban residents' disposable income grew about 6.5 percent, about 470,000 shantytown houses were renovated, 282,000 affordable houses were built for villagers, and 537,000 people were lifted out of poverty last year, with the incidence of poverty dropping to 6.51 percent.

Crackdown combined with preemptive steps

The fight against terrorism and extremism has protected the human rights of members of all ethnic groups, helped maintain social order and facilitated economic development in Xinjiang. And data prove the story: the number of tourists in Xinjiang reached 150 million in 2018, up more than 40 percent year-on-year; production output grew 6.1 percent to 1,219 billion yuan; the profits of industrial enterprises with annual revenue of more than 20 million yuan rose by 10 percent; added value of strategic emerging industries grew 13.2 percent, and added value of high-tech manufacturing increased by 33 percent. Plus, the enrollment and consolidation rate of students significantly improved.

Moreover, China's fight against terrorism, extremism and separatism has not only improved people's lives and livelihoods but also made considerable contribution to the global fight against terrorism.

Respecting diversity in anti-terrorism fight

China's anti-terrorism and anti-extremism measures are an important part of the global fight against terrorism, but they have been criticized by some, because they don't fully understand the situation in Xinjiang or have hidden political agenda to fulfill. This kind of double standard is, in fact, cheering for the terrorists and extremists who are trampling human rights in Xinjiang.

As Resolution 37/27 of the UN Human Rights Council says, respect, tolerance, pluralism, inclusion and respect for diversity, dialogue among civilizations and the enhancement of interfaith and intercultural understanding are among the most important elements in promoting cooperation and success in preventing and combating terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism. In line with the UN resolution, countries and peoples that are on the side of justice have lauded China's fight against terrorism.

The author is director of the Research Center for Human Rights and a professor at the Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University. 

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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