Analyzing the scourge of terrorism in Xinjiang
Sultan M Hali

Editor's Note: This article is part five of a series titled "See the difference between the two narratives on Xinjiang," which explores the differences between China and the West on China's Xinjiang policy and hopefully provides a new perspective that helps to understand the issue. Sultan M Hali is a Pakistani writer and security analyst. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

China's northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang was plagued by terrorism in the last decade. The worst attacks occurred in the capital city of Urumqi in 2009, followed by assaults in 2014 and the last occurrence in 2017. The combined death toll was in the hundreds, with thousands injured. Facing the threat of terrorism, the central government decided to tackle the issue by redressing the root cause of the problem.

A thorough study was carried out. Specialists analyzed the problem at home and incidents experienced by other countries. The efforts bore fruit and a formal White Paper was issued in 2019. It declared that China is a unified multi-ethnic country, and the various ethnic groups in Xinjiang have long been part of the Chinese nation. The paper asserts that "hostile forces in and outside China, especially separatists, religious extremists and terrorists" are trying to break China apart. Xinjiang is a part of China's territory. Yet, these forces are calling it "East Turkistan" and clamor for independence. "They attempt to separate ethnic groups in Xinjiang from the Chinese nation and ethnic cultures in the region from the diverse but integrated Chinese culture", says the White Paper.

The rapid development of the eastern provinces in China had led to a temporary disparity with the provinces to the west. This void was exploited by the detractors of China to incite unrest amongst the ethnic Uygurs. The forces inimical to China also distorted religion to coax people into committing acts of aggression.

A screenshot from CGTN's documentary "Fighting terrorism in Xinjiang" shows a woman crying after her husband was killed in a terrorist attack in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 28, 2014.

A screenshot from CGTN's documentary "Fighting terrorism in Xinjiang" shows a woman crying after her husband was killed in a terrorist attack in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 28, 2014.

The central government took actions. Contrary to the major anti-terroristic tactic employed by U.S. and the West through military and law enforcement, Chinese believe that force alone cannot eradicate terrorism. The forebears of extremism can only be suppressed if the root causes are addressed. Violence begets more violence. Terror mongers condition the victims of violence to retaliate with renewed force.

China decided to persecute the offenders of serious violence, while simultaneously it improved the quality of life of all its citizens including the underprivileged sections of the community. The richer provinces were urged to participate in the development of those lagging behind while mega projects like the Belt and Road Initiative based on the inclusion of the multi-ethnic communities were launched.

Concurrently, vocational education and training centers were established. These centers inculcated a sense of participation to those who were once considered marginalized and gave them the opportunity to adopt a vocation as means of livelihood. They were also given lessons on the China's Constitution and law.

It was highlighted that Chinese Constitution fully respects and protects freedom of religious belief. The White Paper said: "Xinjiang shows zero tolerance to any action that creates disputes between believers and non-believers, between believers of different religions, and between believers of different sects of a religion." The two-pronged strategy has borne fruit as the serious offenders have been dealt with in accordance with the law, while those who were inclining toward terrorism have been brought back to the mainstream of society and are now fully equipped to undertake their obligations as responsible citizens of China.

Part one: See the difference between the two narratives on Xinjiang

Part two: Taking a broader look at the debate on 'human rights' in Xinjiang

Part three: The West monopolizes and weaponizes human rights

Part four: China is walking the talk on religious freedom in Xinjiang

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)