|Remark by Spokesperson of the Embassy of China in Belgium on Xinjiang-Related False Media Report by the Belgian Media|
The Embassy of China in Belgium noticed news report by le soir published on 29th July, making false allegations that Uyghurs in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang were being “forcibly sterilized” and subjected to “forced labor”. We would like to set the record straight on the matter so that the Belgian public would not be misinformed.
As the article wrongly claimed, “at least one million” Uyghurs are detained at “concentration camps” in Xinjiang. This echoes rumor started and circulated by “China Human Rights Defender”, a purported NGO that is in reality backed by the US government. The organization, based on interview with merely eight Uyghurs and speculating from rough estimates, shoddily concluded that one tenth of the 20 million Xinjiang population are held in so-called “re-education camps”. This is both untenable and absurd.
The truth is, the vocational education and training program lawfully set up by the Xinjiang authorities is a meaningful and useful exploration in having a prevention-focused approach for counter-terrorism and deradicalization. The aim is to uproot extremism and deescalate violent terrorist activities. The centers operate in full respect of the trainees’ human rights, a principle enshrined in the Chinese Constitution and law. Personal insult and abuse in all forms are strictly prohibited. The trainees enjoy freedom of movement and freedom of religious belief, and the habits and customs of different ethnic minorities are fully respected and protected. Those enrolled in the program decide on their own if they would like to participate in legal religious activities when they are back at home. As of last December, all the trainees have already graduated. With support from the government, they have found good job opportunities, and their lives are better off.
The article also unwarrantedly criticized “compulsory sterilization” for Uyghur women and “indoctrination” of Uyghur children in Xinjiang, citing report by Adrian Zenz, who poses as an “expert”, but in effect, according to independent American online news outlet, is a US-supported far-right group member and a cadre of the Xinjiang training center research group set up by the US intelligence community. The fraudulent stories he made up to slander and defame China fell apart in the face of the truth and are ultimately self-defeating.
If anything, the Chinese government has always adopted population policies leaning towards ethnic minorities. From 1978 to 2018, the population of Uyghurs in Xinjiang grew from 5.55 million to 11.68 million, accounting for about 46.8 percent of the total population of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Which ethnic group in any country in the world see their population doubled within 40 years? Adrian Zenz went so far as to smear the rudimentary education and child welfare in Xinjiang. Xinjiang covers a large land area with sparsely strewn villages, making it difficult for students to go to school. The local government has put in tremendous work to improve the 9-year elementary education and has achieved full coverage in the entire autonomous region. By the end of 2019, there are 12757 schools staffed by 484 thousand teachers providing basic education to 5.89 million students. The gross enrollment rate for pre-school and primary school age children is 95.95% and 99.9% respectively.
The article also slandered Xinjian by indicating “mass forced labor” for Uyghur minorities. This is another rumour first told by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, an agency funded by US government and arms dealers and specializing in rumor-mongering wherever it suits the interest of its patrons. It has long been demonizing and stigmatizing China. When it comes to Xinjiang, it has orchestrated biased and baseless stories to supply ammunition to the American anti-China forces’ smear campaign against Xinjiang. The institute has been castigated by many people from Australia for its lack of integrity and credibility。
This March, the ASPI released a report titled “Uyghurs for Sale” with concocted and cobbled up stories, deliberately distorting the voluntary initiative of poor southern Xinjiang inhabitants seeking better job opportunities and higher income in the more developed areas of the country as “forced labor”. The US Congress and State Department then repeated these lies in their “reports”, with the aim of interfering in China’s internal affairs, disrupting the stability and development of Xinjiang, undermining Chinese enterprises and the operation of foreign companies in China, and ultimately to contain China’s development. Under the pretext of human rights, they seek to deprive the people of Xinjiang of their right to employment and a better life. What malice.
Recently, some Uyghurs residing overseas, either deluded or intimidated by the “World Uyghur Congress”, the UN-designated terrorist group ETIM, or other extremist, separatist and terrorist forces, wittingly posted on social media accounts information of “missing” families and friends, claiming they have lost contact with them. But those “missing” always turned out to be leading normal lives in Xinjiang. In the digital age, it is unthinkable that one would not be able to stay in touch with others. The Embassy of China in Belgium has the duty to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals in line with Belgian law and international law. If the person mentioned in the article is still a Chinese national and is indeed subjected to fraud or coercion, he could reach out to the Embassy for consular assistance.
In the 20 years before the region implemented preventive counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures, thousands of terrorist attacks happened in the region claiming the lives of hundreds, injuring thousands of innocent people, and incurring heavy economic costs. For over 40 months straight, Xinjiang has not witnessed a single incident of violent attack, and enjoys sound economic development, social stability and people live safe and peaceful lives. Some people do not wish to see this happening. Harboring the ulterior motive to create chaos in Xinjiang and contain China, they have been persistently making up preposterous lies under the pretense of human rights and religion. The Embassy of China in Belgium urges related Belgian media and journalist to respect the facts, reject biases, and do more that help to improve mutual understanding and the welfare of the Chinese and Belgian people.