Full text: The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang

White Paper
The State Council Information Office on Monday issued a white paper on the fight against terrorism and extremism and human rights protection in Xinjiang.

China SCIOUpdated: March 19, 2019

VI. Finding Experience for Counterterrorism and De-radicalization

Counterterrorism and de-radicalization effort in Xinjiang is based on the reality in Xinjiang and the rest of the country, while drawing on the experience of other countries. The government prioritizes safeguarding the fundamental interests of all ethnic groups. Starting by addressing deep-seated problems, China has worked to explore effective and law-based approaches to counterterrorism and de-radicalization to protect people of all ethnic groups from the scourge of terrorism and extremism, and identified successful experiences and effective measures.

- Combating terrorism in accordance with the law and protecting human rights. Safety is a prerequisite for human rights protection, and human rights cannot be guaranteed if we fail to strike at terrorism. Fighting terrorist activities and protecting lives and property are fundamental to protecting human rights.

Terrorist activities were once frequent in Xinjiang, destroying local peace, order, unity, and progress, and showing callous disdain for the people's right to life, health, development and other basic human rights. In the face of terrorist atrocities, the local government has launched preventive and punitive countermeasures in accordance with the law and perseveres with deterrence against terrorist forces, maximizing its efforts to protect basic human rights from terrorism and extremism. No violent or terrorist activities have occurred in Xinjiang for more than two years; the number of criminal cases and public security cases has fallen significantly; the infiltration of extremism has been curbed, and peace and harmony has returned to society. In 2018, tourism in Xinjiang grew rapidly: Tourists from inside and outside China numbered over 150 million, a year-on-year increase of 40 percent; foreign tourists totaled 2.4032 million, a year-on-year increase of 10.78 percent; tourist spending totaled RMB252.2 billion, a year-on-year growth of 41.6 percent.

At the same time, Xinjiang has paid special attention to human rights protection in its counterterrorism effort, preventing any violation of human rights caused by counterterrorist measures. To this end, the local government has enhanced legislation on counterterrorism, so as to keep its counterterrorism activities within the law and punish acts of terrorism in accordance with the law. It has made every effort to ensure that its counterterrorist measures do not infringe the basic rights, interests and freedoms of local ethnic groups as endowed by the law, and that normal social order is maintained.

- Counterterrorism does not target any specific region, ethnic group or religion. It is stipulated in the Counterterrorism Law of the People's Republic of China that "In counterterrorism work, citizens' freedom in religious belief and ethnic customs shall be respected, and any discrimination based on regions, ethnic groups, religions and other grounds shall be prohibited."

Xinjiang is inhabited by multiple ethnic groups composed of believers in multiple religions. In the course of counterterrorism and de-radicalization, the local government forbids any organization or individual from using religion to split the country, spread religious extremism, incite ethnic hatred, undermine ethnic unity, disturb social order, harm citizens' physical or mental health, hinder the implementation of the country's administrative, judicial, educational and cultural systems, or harm national security, national interests, public interests and civil rights and interests. It prevents ill-intentioned people from using religion or religious activities to create disorder or commit crimes.

The local government also abides by the policies and stipulations in the Constitution, other state laws and administrative regulations concerning freedom of religious belief. In the course of counterterrorism and de-radicalization, the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have their freedom of religious belief fully protected. Citizens are entitled to choose to be religious believers or non-believers, and no organization or individual may force citizens to believe in a religion or not, nor discriminate against believers or non-believers.

Xinjiang attaches equal importance to services and management in addressing religious affairs. The local government has worked to enhance the training of religious staff, expand channels for them to acquire religious knowledge, and improve the conditions of venues for religious activities, so that the religious sentiments, beliefs and needs of believers are fully respected.

- Balancing compassion and severity and taking measures for prevention, education and rehabilitation. Xinjiang follows the criminal justice policy of balancing compassion and severity, and taking the approach of reforming the offenders through education. A few leaders and core members of violent and terrorist gangs who have committed heinous crimes or are inveterate offenders will be severely punished in accordance with the law so as to protect citizens' basic human rights from the scourge of terrorism and extremism. Offenders who have committed minor crimes under the influence of religious extremism will be educated, rehabilitated and protected through vocational training, through the learning of standard Chinese language and labor skills, and acquiring knowledge of the law; these people are large in number. The approach to the second group of people is rehabilitation rather than punishment, care instead of rejection. Through such education, they will improve their ability to distinguish right from wrong, to resist infiltration, and to correct themselves. They will rid themselves of terrorist influence, the extremist mindset, and outmoded cultural practices. They will increase their employability, expand their employment channels, and become more confident in life. This approach clearly demonstrates the humanitarian stance of the Chinese government.

- Maintaining stability and improving the standards of living. Happiness is the most important human right. Safeguarding and improving people's lives contributes to public wellbeing and social harmony and stability.

Some areas in Xinjiang were severely disturbed by terrorism and the infiltration of religious extremism. For this reason, some people cannot speak, read or write in standard Chinese, have a weak understanding of rule of law, and have difficulty finding employment through a lack of employable skills. As a result, such people are more inclined to be incited or coerced into criminality by terrorist and extremist forces.

Social stability and better lives promote all-round human development. The people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are leading a new life. They pursue a cultured way of life, and consciously resist religious extremism. More than ever before, ethnic groups in Xinjiang are united and live in harmony, and popular support for counterterrorism, maintenance of stability and de-radicalization is increasing. The people of Xinjiang are full of hope for a better future.

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