Last week, the deadly shooting incidents at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand left 50 people dead, including 5 people of Bangladeshi origin, and many injured. On the same day, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang sent messages of condolence to express their deep sympathy for the victims and the bereaved families. This incident again proves that combating terrorism is a common task for all countries around the world.
Xinjiang is situated in northwest China and the hinterland of the Eurasian Continent, covering an area of 1.66 million sq km. It has been home to various ethnic groups, and different cultures and religions coexist. It has also been an important channel for communication between civilizations of the East and the West, and was an important section of the famed Silk Road which linked ancient China with the rest of the world. By the end of the 19th century, 13 ethnic groups – the Uygur, Han, Kazak, Mongolian, Hui, Kirgiz, Manchu, Xibe, Tajik, Daur, Uzbek, Tatar, and Russian – had settled in Xinjiang, with the Uygurs having the largest population. The multi-ethnic region constitutes an integral part of the Chinese nation.
As Xinjiang region is multi-ethnic in nature, it tends to be more susceptible to the influence of terrorism and extremism with its complex ethnic composition. From the early 90s to 2016, there have been multiple terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, which led to heavy loss of lives and property. To contain violent and terrorist crimes is the common call from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Therefore, drawing on the global counter-terrorism experiences, Chinese government has set up vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang for people who are under the influence of terrorism and extremism, where free courses are provided to the trainees in mainly 4 areas: standard spoken and written Chinese language, law, vocational skills, and the eradication of extremism. All trainees get paid when working in the centers, and are permitted to go home regularly, as well as to hold fast during Ramadan at home. Upon completion of their study, the trainees will be given certificates that would be helpful for them to find jobs.
As a result of China’s efforts to eradicate terrorism and extremism, Xinjiang has witnessed a clear rise in its stability and local people’s living standard. No terrorist attack has occurred for 26 consecutive months. In 2018, Xinjiang recorded over 150 million visits from tourists from both home and abroad, which fully illustrates the peace and prosperity of the region.
China and Bangladesh are close neighbors and good partners. We both have suffered from terrorism and extremism, and share similar concerns for the security of our peoples and nations. So we believe after learning the realities of Xinjiang, the people of Bangladesh would understand and support China’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalization initiatives. The Embassy of China also welcomes our Bangladeshi friends to visit Xinjiang and other parts of China, and to see what China is really like.
Chen Wei is DCM & Spokesperson of the Embassy of China in Dhaka