Counter-extremism: Major transformation seen in a Xinjiang village
Cui Hui'ao, You Siyuan
03:18

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has taken measures to battle against any environment that breeds terrorism or religious extremism. In one village near Kashi, the changes are readily apparent, thanks to the local government's support and education.

At a kindergarten in Shufu County of Kashi, a group of toddlers are practicing traditional Uygur dance. It is a part of their daily curriculum, along with learning art, sports and language skills. Founded two years ago, the kindergarten now has around 230 pupils, all of ethnic Uygur group.

Uygur children perform folk dancing at a kindergarten in Shufu County, Kashi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. /CGTN Photo

Uygur children perform folk dancing at a kindergarten in Shufu County, Kashi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. /CGTN Photo

One of the parents told CGTN that his son started last year. "We don't pay a penny. He has three meals a day at school. Books and heating are free, too."

Each Uygur child at the kindergarten receives a subsidy of 2,800 yuan (417 U.S. dollars) per year. 

In a typical language class, two teachers were instructing at the same time, speaking in both Mandarin and Uygur to the students. One of the teachers, Amina Abudureheman said the school believes teaching students Mandarin will make it easier for them to communicate with people from different ethnic groups, and learning the Uygur is equally important because it is part of their ethnic identity.

Bilingual education is now a common feature in Uygur kindergartens and schools in Xinjiang. Improved educational quality has led to more Uyghur parents willingly putting their children in local kindergartens. 

A couple of blocks from the kindergarten, a hair salon tells another story about the change that this village of 3,000 people has experienced.

Alanisha Abulimiti, 29, opened the salon in 2018. Thanks to a local women's federation, which organized free hairdressing training for people like her, the cost of equipment and rent are fully covered for the first year. Now Alanisha makes around 2,000 yuan (297 U.S. dollars) per month, comfortable enough to live on in the village.

Alanisha Abulimiti does makeup for a customer. /CGTN Photo

Alanisha Abulimiti does makeup for a customer. /CGTN Photo

"Women in our village used to be afraid to go to the hair salon, putting on makeup or even dressing themselves, because those things were not allowed in the eyes of extremists. Now, the environment has changed," said Alanisha.

Alanisha said she is doing what she had dreamed, making women in her village feel as pretty as they want. 

Speaking on these changes, 46-year-old Wei Bangzhong, the Party secretary of the village, shared some more examples.

"Three years ago, some Uygur residents would reject government subsidized services like television because they thought of it as non-Muslim influence. They would stare at Han people on the street with hostility. Some even thought that killing one ‘heretic' would help one go to the heaven, and killing five would make his entire family go to the heaven."

Wei said local government has made great efforts helping local people more open-minded, learn about the outside world, and understand the government's policies.

In order to better communicate with local villagers, Wei began learning speaking Uygur the day he arrived. He said he enjoys his work a lot. 

The local county government has been providing all kinds of material and industrial support needed, such as free tuition and vocational training, to improve villagers' living. 

Wei Bangzhong speaks to CGTN reporter on the changes in his village. /‍CGTN Photo

Wei Bangzhong speaks to CGTN reporter on the changes in his village. /‍CGTN Photo

Wei is proud that his work has paid off.