Stories from Xinjiang that the West turns a blind eye to

Most people in the West have learned words like “Xinjiang” and “Uyghur” over the past few years, due to the bombardment of reports from the media and activist groups describing how terrible Uyghur life is in China. . People in the West quickly grew concerned, even though many had little knowledge of the culture, history and customs of the Uyghurs or the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

It’s understandable that so much interest has been generated – that’s what the campaigns are designed to do. So, how about continuing to read this article and learn the real stories of Xinjiang, the stories that Western media and governments never tell you?

Before explaining the historical background, here are some basic facts that might surprise you.

The population of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has increased from 3.6 million in 1953 to 11.6 million in 2020, according to the seventh and also the latest national census of China in 2020.

Between 2000 and 2020 alone, the Uyghur population grew by more than 3 million. The growth rate of 1.67% is well above the average growth rate of all ethnic minority groups in China, which stands at 0.83%.

Does this look like “genocide”?

Xinjiang’s regional GDP rose from 1.23 billion yuan ($184 million) in 1955 to 1.4 trillion yuan in 2020, according to the White Paper on Equal Rights of Ethnic Groups in Xinjiang in 2021. At the end of 2020, 2.7 million rural people were evicted. of extreme poverty. Per capita disposable income of rural people was 13,052 yuan in 2020, up 10.8 percent from 2012.

Does this look like “forced labor”?

Basit Yari, 86, is a Hami melon farmer in Hami, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He even presented a melon he had grown to Chairman Mao Zedong in his youth. /Li Jingjing

Basit Yari, 86, is a Hami melon farmer in Hami, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He even presented a melon he had grown to Chairman Mao Zedong in his youth. /Li Jingjing

If you went to Xinjiang, you would see the Uyghur language written and spoken everywhere, from public signs, books, radios, TV programs and songs to pedestrian conversations. In fact, there are 52 newspapers and 120 magazines in different languages ​​since there are more than 50 ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang, and Uyghur, Mongolian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Xibian are the most commonly used languages.

Several Uyghur cultural heritages and customs are not only on the national heritage list, but also on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List, with the support of the Chinese government.

Does this look like “cultural genocide”?

The law requires the main minority language to be written on public signs in Xinjiang. /Li Jingjing

The law requires the main minority language to be written on public signs in Xinjiang. /Li Jingjing

To help members of minority ethnic groups have better access to education, children in Xinjiang can enjoy 15 years of free education from kindergarten to high school, far more than the average nine years for children. from the rest of the country. For the university entrance exam, the most competitive exam in China, minority children receive extra points to ensure they can reach higher education. The extra points vary depending on the population of the ethnic group. A Uyghur friend of mine from Hotan said she gained 30 extra points which made a big difference in her exam results.

Does this sound like “oppression”?

In Xinjiang, there are five main religions: Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. But if you want to understand the situation of Muslims, visiting any mosque and talking to people who go to their daily prayers will give you a real picture.

Currently, there are more than 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang, more than many Muslim-majority countries. Institutions related to Islam have been renovated in recent years. Several mosques have been renovated, expanded and equipped with better facilities for ablutions, heating and fire control, including Masjid Yanghang in Urumqi and Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar. The Islamic Institute of China, which provides training for anyone interested in becoming a teacher or staff member of Islamic institutes in China, built eight new complexes across Xinjiang in 2017 with 200 million yuan from the government.

Mubarak Mugabo, a Ugandan Muslim, trying out the Masjid Yanghang ablution center in Urumqi in 2021. /CGTN

Mubarak Mugabo, a Ugandan Muslim, trying out the Masjid Yanghang ablution center in Urumqi in 2021. /CGTN

“There are mosques, they teach the Koran. The only Koran we all learned, some students can read it better than me. What other evidence do you want presented to you to prove that there really is freedom of worship and that Islam is not over there?” said Mubarak Mugabo, a Ugandan Muslim who visited Islamic institutions in Xinjiang during his trip, in an interview with CGTN.

Does this sound like “the oppression of Muslims”?

So why have these facts, these voices never been picked up by Western media, political figures and activist groups, who have said they are extremely “concerned” about the people of Xinjiang?

If your counter-argument is “data from the Chinese government and government-funded organizations or individuals cannot be trusted”, may I remind you that almost all of the West’s accusations, reports and investigations into Xinjiang were conducted by “academics” or “researchers” from a self-proclaimed independent think tank called the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). It is funded by several governments and arms manufacturers, including the US State Department, the US Department of Defense, the UK Embassy in China and the Government of Canada, or activist groups linked to the “East Turkestan”, headquartered in Washington, DC and receiving funding from government organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

ASPI’s overseas funding, between 2020 and 2021. / ASPI’s website

ASPI’s overseas funding, between 2020 and 2021. / ASPI’s website

ASPI’s foreign funding between 2019 and 2020. / ASPI’s website

ASPI’s foreign funding between 2019 and 2020. / ASPI’s website

Yet Western mainstream media have no problem believing and amplifying their words or data, even though most of their “evidence” of horrific atrocities in Xinjiang is just satellite images, cartoons made by them- themselves, photoshopped images and witnesses with apparent gaps in their stories. . All have been debunked by multiple users on social media.

Eliminate extremism, terrorism and separatism

But of course, we have to ask where these lies come from and why do some groups keep pushing them? First, we need to understand what happened in Xinjiang.

It’s hard not to notice the strong security in Xinjiang at airports, gas stations and public places when you go there, especially several years ago. Indeed, terrorist attacks occurred frequently in Xinjiang from the 1920s, after the spread of pan-Turkism and pan-Islamism in the region. Extremists have advocated violence, separation and even ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang, even though the region has been home to several ethnic groups for hundreds of years, with some groups even inhabiting it long before the Uyghurs.

Thousands of terrorist attacks took place in Xinjiang and even spread to the rest of China until 2017, causing not only financial damage, but also the deaths of countless innocent civilians and security forces.

“I was told that I should not interact with other men or with anyone who is not Muslim. Women cannot work because the money we earn is dirty. I could not not wear colorful clothes,” recalls Zaynura Namatqari, a Uyghur woman. who studied at a vocational training center in Shufu County and is now responsible for women’s affairs in her village committee, in an interview with CGTN.

Screenshot of interview with Zaynura Namatqari, who studied at a vocational training center in Shufu County.

Screenshot of interview with Zaynura Namatqari, who studied at a vocational training center in Shufu County.

Many Uyghurs like her have been approached by religious personnel with extreme ideologies and forced to abandon their traditional Uyghur culture.

Memetjan Metqasim, a Uyghur musician who now appears on a national music show, recalls being told by imams to give up music and dancing, which are key cultural elements for many Uyghurs like him. It was also forbidden to cry at funerals and to sing at weddings.

In fact, extremist groups did not just target Han people; they targeted Uyghurs who were not Muslim, or Muslims who disagreed with their extreme ideologies. Several renowned imams of major mosques in Xinjiang were among the victims, such as the former imam of Id Kah Mosque, Jume Tayir, who was adamantly opposed to radicalism and was brutally murdered at the age of 74 in 2014 by a group of terrorists in front of the mosque after finishing the morning prayers.

Screen capture from surveillance video showing Imam Jume Tayir being attacked by three terrorists outside Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar. /CCTV

Screen capture from surveillance video showing Imam Jume Tayir being attacked by three terrorists outside Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar. /CCTV

This tragedy has been barely mentioned by those in the West who claim to care about the people of Xinjiang.

Most graduates have been able to run businesses, improve the yield of their farmland, or work in offices with the computer skills learned, earning a much more stable income after graduation.

Have these methods been effective? Just look at reality.

Not a single terrorist attack has taken place in Xinjiang since 2017.

Villages have been lifted out of extreme poverty. Ethnic minority women work in all sectors, often as breadwinners. More and more minority children are attending secondary schools and colleges. Average household incomes have increased. More and more tourists come to Xinjiang every year. People of all religions can celebrate their religious holidays. Uyghurs shine in their professions, as movie stars, singers, teachers and civil servants.

Are these realities enough to debunk the Western false narrative of Xinjiang?

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