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Q&A by Spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in Jakarta on counterterrorism, vocational education and training in Xinjiang

Q: The report about vocational education and training program in Xinjiang has attracted broad attention from Indonesia. Could you please share with us some actual information?

A: China is a country with multiple ethnic groups and religions. As prescribed in the Constitution, all Chinese citizens enjoy the freedom of religious belief. In accordance with the law, the Chinese government protects the freedom of religious belief enjoyed by all citizens including the Uygur Muslims.

In Xinjiang, there are 10 ethnic groups including the Uygur that believe in Islam with total population approaching 14 million. Xinjiang now has around 24,400 mosques, accounting for 70% of the national total. In terms of the number of mosques per capital, Xinjiang is one of the highest world-wide. Xinjiang is home to 29,000 clerical personnel, accounting for 51% of global total. The number of Islamic organization in Xinjiang, taking up 92% of national total. There are eight religious colleges, including the Xinjiang Islamic Institute and Xinjiang Islamic School. The Xinjiang government has arranged charter flights every year to take believers in Islam to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The Xinjiang government funds medical care and interpretation for pilgrims, and offers other services to ensure safe and orderly pilgrimages. Religious classics and books have been translated and published, including the Koran in the Uygur, Han Chinese, Kazak and Kirgiz languages.

In recent years, under the influence of extremist ideas, religious extremism was spreading in Xinjiang. Extremists and terrorists have plotted and conducted thousands of violent terrorist attacks, including the riot on 5 July 2009, which killed 197 and injured over 1,700 in Urumqi; the Kunming railway station terrorist attack of 1 March 2014, which caused 31 deaths and injured another 141. In addition, they also plotted and conducted other violent terrorist attacks in Urumqi, Shanshan, Shache and Baicheng county, causing heavy casualties and immeasurable property damage.

People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang were enraged and shared hatred toward the terrorist crimes. A child of a Uygur police officer who died in the line of duty wrote a letter to the Xinjiang government chief. In emotional words, the letter reads: "My father sacrificed his life on the counterterrorism frontline. His upright personality will always inspire me. I hope that the Party and Government can unwaveringly root out terrorism so that no children grow up without their fathers."

Terrorism and extremism go against human civilization and are the common enemy of the international community. Drawing on the anti-terrorism experience of the international community, China has taken a series of de-radicalization measures. In some places, certain residents there have a limited command of the country's common language and a limited sense or knowledge of the law. They often have difficulties in finding jobs due to limited vocational skills. This has made them vulnerable to the instigation and coercion of terrorism and extremism. In light of the situation, Xinjiang has established professional vocational training institutions as the platform, providing courses on China's common language, legal knowledge, vocational skills, along with de-radicalization education for citizens influenced by extremist ideas.

In the vocational education and training institutions, courses on clothing and footwear making, food processing, electronic product assembly, typesetting and printing, hairdressing and e-commerce have been set up. The trainees could learn and acquire one to two vocational skills according to their desire and capability, and they are paid for their works during the process of learning and training. The vocational institutions respect and protect the customs and habits of various ethnic groups, as well as their beliefs in diet and daily life. To make it easier for the trainees to find jobs and earn a well-off life, recommendation letters to local companies will be issued for them after finishing courses, based on their newly acquired skills. Facts have proven that such vocational education and training is effective in countering terrorism and eradicating extremism in Xinjiang and preventing violent terrorist attacks.

Xinjiang has started to enjoy the dividend of effective counterterrorism efforts. For 21 consecutive months, no violent terrorist attacks have occurred and the number of criminal cases, including those endangering public security, has dropped significantly. Public security has notably improved with religious extremism effectively contained. And social stability has brought about economic development. In 2017, the region had a 7.6 percent growth in GDP. In the first nine months of this year, Xinjiang has already recorded 132 million trips by tourists from home and abroad, a 40 percent year-on-year increase. Today's Xinjiang is not only beautiful but also safe. People are no longer afraid of going out, shopping, dining and traveling. The freedom of religious belief for people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang including Uygur, is better protected.

As good neighbors, good friends and good partners, China and Indonesia have always supported each other on issues concerning respective major interests. I believe after knowing the real situation in Xinjiang, our Indonesian friends would better understand and support the Chinese Government's efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to safeguard stability and security in Xinjiang. In recent years, the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta has published articles on Xinjiang in local media, and invited various Indonesian religious leaders and media to visit Xinjiang and other relevant provinces. As they have seen, people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and the Chinese Muslim community in general live and work in peace. We welcome more Indonesian friends to visit China and to take a look for yourself what China really looks like.

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