Ambassadors and envoys from seven countries visited northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from August 19 to 21 at the invitation of the regional government.
The diplomats from Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and Nigeria visited the cities of Urumqi and Turpan, getting to know the region's economic and social development.
They positively evaluated the Chinese government's efforts in promoting local economic development and improving people's livelihood, safeguarding citizens' freedom of religious belief, as well as combating and preventing terrorism in accordance with the law, saying that Xinjiang's successful experience is worth learning.
Xinjiang is a key battlefield in the fight against terrorism and extremism in China. For a long time, the "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism both at home and abroad have plotted and organized thousands of violent terrorist activities and gravely damaged the stability, solidarity and progress of Xinjiang, trampling the basic human rights to life, health, property and development of the people in the region.
At the Xinjiang International Convention & Exhibition Center, the diplomats watched an exhibition on major terrorist cases in the region.
Baba Ahmad Jidda, Nigeria's ambassador to China, said Nigeria had suffered a lot from terrorism over the years, with bombings, attacks and arson still occurring every day.
"Terrorism and extremism are common enemies of human civilization. Safeguarding social peace and stability is a shared aspiration of all countries. We should join hands to combat and eliminate the threat of terrorism together," he said.
Noting that the preventive measures against terrorism have yielded good results in Xinjiang as no violent terrorist activities have been reported in the past three years, the ambassador said: "This is an important and extremely instructive message for us. We hope that we two countries will strengthen exchanges and cooperation and support each other in the field of anti-terrorism in the future."
China's State Council Information Office released a white paper on Xinjiang's vocational education and training last week, giving a comprehensive and objective description of the program.
Some Western media, however, have distorted the facts and used the so-called religious and human rights issues to slander Xinjiang's anti-terrorism efforts.
During the foreign diplomats' visit to Turpan City Vocational Education and Training Center, they attended the classes, watched the students' sports activities, and asked many teachers and students about the curriculum, accommodation and food, as well as health care conditions.
Through the visit and interaction, the diplomats said they saw with their own eyes the real situation in Xinjiang, which is completely different from what they had read in reports by some Western media. The students here are happy, relaxed and upbeat about their future, they said.
"The vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang are not 'concentration camps' as described by some Western media, but schools to help those influenced by extreme thoughts to eliminate the harmful thoughts and learn vocational skills," said Leela Mani Paudyal, Nepalese ambassador to China, during the visit.
"Every student I saw here is happy. They learn not only laws and regulations, Standard Chinese, but also professional skills, which I believe will give them an edge to adapt to the society after graduation and become a strong competitor in the job market," said the ambassador.
Karunasena Kodituwakku, Sri Lanka's ambassador to China, said the education and training centers provide a "platform to eradicate extremism," which is beneficial to the trainees and the stability and development of the society as a whole.
"This anti-terrorism example is worthy of learning by many countries," he said.
Beauty, unity and harmony
During their tour, the delegation also visited several religious institutions including Xinjiang Islamic Institute in the regional capital Urumqi and the Kazihan Mosque in Turpan and inquired about the cultivation of religious personnel and the construction and maintenance of religious places.
Ny Keoponha, first secretary of the Cambodian Embassy in China, said he found that people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have their freedom of religious belief fully respected, and their legitimate religious needs have been continually met. He praised the Chinese government for providing support and convenience for normal religious activities and guaranteeing the freedom of religious belief.
The delegation also visited the grand bazaar and local communities, watched music and dance performances and inquired about the progress in China's efforts in poverty reduction and grassroots services.
In the first half of 2019, Xinjiang's tourism industry showed a "blowout" growth, receiving 75.9 million tourists, up 46 percent from a year ago. A large part of the tourism boom is attributed to the sustained and stable development of Xinjiang.
Anwar Alabdulla, the Bahraini ambassador to China, said that about a month ago, Bahrain and many members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) submitted a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council to support the Chinese government's efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.
Alabdulla said he would try his best to display the true Xinjiang of beauty, unity and harmony to the world after the tour.
(Cover: Foreign diplomats visit Urumqi's grand bazaar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. /Xinhua Photo)