V. Remarkable Results in Education and Training
Education and training in Xinjiang has succeeded to an enormous extent in eliminating the soil and conditions in which terrorism and religious extremism breed, rehabilitating those who have committed unlawful or criminal acts, and protected basic civil rights. The number of people participating in education and training at the centers is not fixed; some are coming in while others are going out. However, as education and training has played its role, most trainees have reached the required standards and graduated.
– The comprehensive quality of trainees has improved. Their understanding of the rule of law has risen, and there is a general recognition that citizens must abide by the Constitution and other laws of the country. The ability of trainees to speak and write in standard Chinese has improved. Many trainees begin the course unable to use the national common language, but by the time they have completed their studies at the centers they are able to understand, communicate, read and write in Chinese. Through vocational skills training and study, most of them have mastered practical skills and their employability has increased. Many of the trainees who have completed their studies in education and training centers have gone on to find employment in factories or enterprises. Some have started their own businesses, and some have continued their studies in secondary and higher vocational schools in order to improve their prospects further.
– Religious extremism has been effectively eliminated. Through education, the vast majority of trainees can recognize the nature and harm of terrorism and religious extremism, and free themselves from the control these phenomena exert over their minds. The trainees have a much better awareness of the interests of the nation, their civic duties, and the rule of law, and their ability to distinguish between right and wrong has significantly improved. Most of the trainees are able to recognize that religious extremism is a perversion of their religion, and their ability to resist its penetration has notably increased.
– The social atmosphere has taken a marked turn for the better. In the course of the trainees' studies and daily life, the education and training centers carefully guide them to change their mentalities, and promote mutual respect for folkways among all ethnic groups while encouraging adaptation to the requirements of modern society in terms of food, clothing, housing, transport, weddings, funerals, etiquette and customs. The centers also vigorously spread the concept of modern civilization, so that trainees can divest themselves of outdated conventions and customs. Thanks to these efforts, Xinjiang has witnessed a marked change in the social environment in recent years. A healthy atmosphere is spreading, while evil influences are declining. Citizens now consciously resist religious extremism, and the trend in society is now to pursue knowledge of modern science and technology and a cultured way of life.
– The overall situation in society continues to be stable. 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. In 2018, tourism in Xinjiang grew rapidly: Tourists from inside and outside China totaled over 150 million, a year-on-year increase of 40 percent; foreign tourists numbered 2.6 million, a year-on-year increase of nearly 12 percent. From January to June 2019, nearly 76 million tourists visited Xinjiang, an increase of 46 percent over the same period in 2018.
– Education and training has won general support. The trainees gain a thorough understanding of the true nature and perils of terrorism and religious extremism. They thank education and training for turning them back from the way to terrorist crimes and helping them break free from the spiritual shackles of religious extremism. Education and training has effectively safeguarded social stability and harmony in Xinjiang, protected the basic human rights of citizens to the maximum extent, and won the support of all ethnic groups. The personal feeling of many people is that the positive developments in Xinjiang have been hard won, and without education and training there would have been little peace and tranquility today.
– The international community has made positive comments on Xinjiang's efforts. Education and training has aroused the general interest of the international community. Since the end of December 2018, nearly 1,000 people have visited Xinjiang. They include foreign diplomatic envoys to China, UN officials, Geneva-based senior diplomats of various countries, as well as more than 40 groups (or delegations) of people from political parties, civil society organizations, news media, and religious organizations of various countries. Through field trips, many have realized 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 autonomous region, provoked by religious extremism, were causing outrage. Through rehabilitating trainees poisoned by terrorist and religious extremist ideas, education and training has made an important contribution to international efforts to fight terrorism and extremism, and generated valuable experience that is of great reference value. At its 46th session, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation adopted a resolution commending China's efforts in providing care to its Muslim citizens.
A number of foreign journalists who have conducted interviews in the education and training centers have published stories that reflect the true role of the centers and express their understanding, approval and support for the education and training programs in Xinjiang.
"China respects ethnic minorities and their religious beliefs," says a report in Saudi Arabia's newspaper Al Riyadh entitled "Xinjiang: Gateway to China on the Belt and Road" published on May 15, 2019. "The Chinese government at all levels and its departments have formulated a series of policies and regulations to respect and accommodate the dietary habits, clothing, festivals, weddings and funerals of ethnic minorities." "In Xinjiang, all ethnic groups have the right to maintain or change their own lifestyles or customs, which is China's consistent policy."
On May 15, 2019, Egypt's Al-Ahram Al-Masa'y newspaper published an article entitled "China Uses Training and Re-education to Deal with Extremism". It states: "Countries around the world adopt a variety of preventive measures against terrorism and extremism in accordance with their actual conditions. The measures taken against extremist ideas by the Chinese government in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region can provide useful experience…Xinjiang has set up education and training centers to train young people influenced by the extremist ideas of terrorist organizations, to provide them with the opportunity to reintegrate into society, get back on track, and steer clear of the claws of terrorism." A report from Turkey's DHA says: "The centers provide human-based management and services for the trainees. There is no maltreatment or restrictions on personal freedom. The trainees are happy to study and live there. What I saw and felt during the visit was very different from the negative propaganda of the US and other Western countries, and I felt their double standards simply rude and unreasonable."
US magazine International Focus published Val Thompson's "A Journey to the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China" in its May 2019 issue: "A visit to Kashgar Vocation Skills Educational and Training Center, which I found well organized with young people, was mostly of the UYGHUR ethnicity. The young people, men and women, were, or could be, victims of extremist teaching, now were learning a vocational skill and being taught a better way of life... They were well fed, and they had good sleeping conditions...I interviewed several of them; they seemed very happy; and they were treated well by their supervisors. For those who want to believe these young people may have been coerced, I say you can't fake happiness; and happiness is exactly what I saw."
On July 5, 2019, The Straits Times of Singapore published an article entitled "Inside Those Uighur Re-education Camps" written by Ravi Velloor, associate editor of the newspaper. The article gives a vivid account of the true situation in Xinjiang's education and training centers and explains how a number of trainees have changed. "From an administrative point of view, the measures have been effective without question," says the article. Velloor learned from his contact with the trainees that many of them "had undergone a measure of self-radicalisation after downloading extremist videos from the Internet on their smartphones". Velloor felt that the training centers "had the air of a boarding school". "In the housing blocks being built for the poorer sections, in the hospitals where people can access medical services, including moxibustion, in the thriving bazaars where the locals ply their trade, and in the cities of Xinjiang where people enjoy ethnic song and dance performances", he was impressed that the Chinese government was not suppressing local culture and that the Uygurs and many other minorities were never subject to the one-child policy.