FU Youli   -  Terrorism is a malignant tumor in today’s world. The brutal killing of innocent civilians is unacceptable and unforgivable for any mankind and society. On March 15, the terrorist attacks in two mosques in central Christchurch, New Zealand killed 50 people; On April 21, the eight suicide bombing attacks in Sri Lanka including its capital city of Colombo left at least 253 people dead. The international community has strongly condemned the terrorist attacks.

Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has not seen any violent terrorist cases for 29 consecutive months, and the local civilians have enjoyed peace for 29 months. However, fighting against terrorism in Xinjiang is a long-term, arduous task. The “four battles” between China and nationalist separatists, religious extremists and terrorists are the major obstructions to “cooling down” the “hotspots” and “overcoming” the “difficulties” on the Xinjiang issue.

First, the battle for sovereignty. Xinjiang has long been an inseparable part of Chinese territory, and China has complete sovereignty over and every right to govern Xinjiang, but things don’t always occur as people wish. There are always some people in Xinjiang and abroad hankering after “Pan-Turkism” and “Pan-Islamism”, having the “dream of independence” to split Xinjiang from China and seeking to establish the “East Turkistan” through “Jihad”. In the face of the violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, any central government wouldn’t appease or connive such acts, but resolutely fight them in accordance with the law.

Take Spain for example. The autonomous community of Catalonia held an independence referendum on October 1, 2017. Six days later, its parliament unilaterally declared Catalonia’s independence from Spain. On the same evening, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoysacked Ousted Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont and dissolved the Catalonian parliament by applying Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. And immediately, the Spanish state prosecutor accused the ousted Catalan leader of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. The United States, the European Union and its members refused to recognise Catalan’s “independence”. On October 30, the Spanish central government officially withdrew Catalonia’s autonomy. On November 8, the Constitutional Court of Spain annulled the declaration of “independence” of the autonomous community of Catalonia.

Second, the battle for the will of the people. The battle mainly targets the youth, which, in essence, vie for the future. The extremist forces distort the religious doctrines, incite people “not to obey anyone but Allah” and proclaim themselves as the spokesmen of “Allah”. They, with weird thinking and acts, deny and reject all forms of secular cultures.

For instance, people were not allowed to cry at funerals or laugh at weddings. A filial daughter couldn’t cry at her father’s funeral because she was told that if “his family members cry, he will go to hell”; The parents couldn’t send their sick child to the hospital because “the doctors are of the Han nationality, medicines prescribed by them should not be taken because they are pagans”; People were not allowed to speak Mandarin, the official language of China, because it is also “kafirs” (pagans); Women were prohibited from working, earning money or show their faces in the public. They can only stay at home and raise their children; People were also warned that “dancing is not allowed and dancing means going to the hell”; A 29-year-old man running a small restaurant in Xinjiang posted a bulletin saying that “No Entry for Non-Muslim”, asked the waitresses to wear unified long black gowns. In his view, the Uyghur people who work as the civil servants aren’t true Muslims and they “should be slaughtered”.

Third, the battle for peace. Islam is neither an indigenous belief of the Uygurs and other ethnic groups, nor the sole one of the Uygur people, and in addition to that, Islam is not a religion that advocates violence, hatred and terror. Buddhism was introduced into Xinjiang a thousand years earlier than Islam, and held its place as a major religion a thousand years earlier than Islam. Around the first century BC Buddhism was introduced into Xinjiang and gradually became a major religion. In the late ninth and early 10th century, Islam was introduced into southern Xinjiang. Through the religious war and other compulsory means, it replaced Buddhism as the major religion of Xinjiang in the early 16th century.

People yearn for peace and happiness. And yet the extremist forces exaggerate violence and terror under the banner of Islam in order to fully control the followers’ thinking, minds and acts. They abetted people to “kill non-Muslim so as to go to heaven” and “die for their belief in order to go to heaven”, which in fact runs counter to the benevolence and tolerance of the Islamic doctrines. The Holy Quran says: “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another”(49:13); “Mankind were one community” (2: 213); “There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error” (2: 256); “if ye efface and overlook and forgive, then lo! (Allah will forgive you,) Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (64: 14).

Fourth, the battle for public opinion. The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy on September 8, 2006, and explicitly stated that “any person who participates in the financing, planning, preparation or perpetration of terrorist acts or in support of terrorist acts is brought to justice … and that such terrorist acts are established as serious criminal offences in domestic laws and regulations.” However, for a long time, some countries and media have worn “colored spectacles” and pursued “double standards”.

On March 1, 2014, eight knife-wielding Xinjiang terrorists attacked passengers at the Kunming Railway Station, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, leaving 31 dead and 141 injured. Some major international media declined to use “terrorists”, “terrorism” and “terrorist attack” to define the nature of the case, but collectively “went blind” and “lost hearing”, and they intentionally or unintentionally obscured the bloodiness in the attack and sympathized the terrorists, using words in their news reports like “radicals”, “simple weapons”, “Uygur-Han conflicts”, “stabbed and wounded the people”.

The Western’s attention on Xinjiang has never weakened, and one of the latest focuses is the “vocational education and training centers”. To bring residents influenced by extremism back to normal life, France announced to establish de-radicalization centers in 12 regions across the country; the United Kingdom published its counter-terrorism strategy and emphasized early intervention; and the United States also tried the way of rectification in communities. China uses the experience of the Western countries in counter-terrorism and establishes the vocational education and training centers with the goal of educating and rehabilitating people guilty of minor crimes or law-breaking and helping them seek reemployment. However, China’s acts are defamed by some countries and “politically accused” of establishing “concentration camp”, “infringing upon human rights”, “religious persecution” and “illegal imprisoning Muslim”, and etc.

Of course, the work of the Xinjiang vocational education and training centers is not perfect now. In terms of the content of courses, more should be added to the current “studying standard spoken and written Chinese language, studying the law, studying vocational skills and de-radicalization”. They should offer the lecture on the outstanding traditional culture of China and its Xinjiang every week. Such lectures would not only help foster the national consciousness, civic awareness and legal consciousness of the trainees, but also enhance their cultural, mental and emotional identity. If everyone is proud of the big family of the Chinese nation consciously and voluntarily, the heresy of ethnic separation, extremist religion and violent terrorism would not be able to find a foothold easily.

The group getting help and aid is those who were incited, coerced or induced into participating in terrorist or extremist activities in circumstances that were not serious enough to constitute a crime or that could be exempted from punishment in accordance with the law. This is necessary, but not enough. The group should be expanded, and the education should start at a younger age . The difficulty and cost for correction would be much bigger once the violent, extremist and anti-social personalities were formed, or harmful acts occurred. Enchanted by extremism, some Uygur juveniles drop out of school and took a wrong path. State-run schools are more popular than the vocational education and training centers that make education easier. Through local legislation, Xinjiang could strictly implement the 12-year compulsory education and 15-year free education, namely three-year preschool education, six-year primary school education, three-year junior middle school education and three-year senior middle school education, ensuring that every child in the region would receive education. And the relevant funds would be supported by the central government’s budgets.

In terms of international transmission, the fact-finding tour composed of 12 diplomatic envoys from Russia and Asian countries at the end of 2018 was definitely good, but it was not enough. China might as well to invite Western diplomats and mainstream media to make a collective visit, which could be done on a yearly basis. Xinjiang is an open region, foreign people and media are welcomed to visit and have interviews so long as they abide by Chinese law and go through relevant procedures. True gold fears no fire, facts speak louder than words, and rumors find no credence with a wise man; Xinjiang would not worry about any distorted description or report.

In terms of the practical results of the training, the employment is the key issue, which is also the biggest issue of people’s livelihood. Southern Xinjiang’s economy is relatively weak, thus it can’t provide sufficient jobs for the rapidly growing population. People there don’t live and work in prosperity and contentment because of inadequate employment and lack of vocational skills. With the popularization of the Internet, they are more likely to be incited by and forced online to take part in terrorism and extremism. The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy states that one of the “measures to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism” is that “‘to lower’ youth unemployment, reduce marginalization and the subsequent sense of victimization that propels extremism and the recruitment of terrorists”. The vocational education and training centers currently teach skills of clothing-making, architectural decoration, cosmetology and hairdressing, food processing and e-business, and etc. As Xinjiang is a vast region with a sparse of population and abundant sunshine, courses such as modern agriculture and tourism management could be provided to the trainees. The employment tracking mechanism for the trainees should be established with complement, dynamic and long-term services to avoid them from falling into the “living hell” of extremism again. Tourism should become a pillar industry of Xinjiang, and the package service including food, clothing, accommodation, transportation, entertainment and shopping could create a lot more jobs. Although there is neither perfect humanity and society nor a perfect system and political party, the mankind always holds eternal thirst for and pursue of the truth, the goodness and the beauty. Adhering to express one’s appeals in a peace rather than violent way and coexist of different culture and religions are the bottom line of human civilization. It should also be the consensus of all mankind.