Photo shows a press conference on issues related to northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, held in Beijing, Feb. 1. (Photo/Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China)
Referring to their personal experience, many officials and residents of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region revealed the truth and debunked rumors about Xinjiang, such as suppression of the Uygur ethnic group, and the so-called “forced labor”, “forced demolition of mosques”, “forced sterilization”, as well as “genocide”, in front of Chinese and foreign media at a press conference held in Beijing on Feb. 1.
The population of ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang, including the Uygur people, has been growing continuously, said Xu Guixiang, deputy director general of the Publicity Department of Communist Party of China (CPC) Xinjiang Committee, at the press conference.
According to data, from 2010 to 2018, the number of Xinjiang’s permanent residents increased by over 3.05 million, or 13.99 percent, from about 21.82 million to nearly 24.87 million, Xu said, stressing that the region’s Uygur population grew by about 2.55 million, or 25.04 percent, much higher than the growth rate of the population of Han people, the largest ethnic group in China, which stood at 2 percent.
“Is it also the result of ‘genocide’?” Xu asked rhetorically.
Tulanisa Rehman, a 32-year-old ethnic minority woman from Xinjiang’s Hotan prefecture, smashed false reports by foreign media hyping forced contraception and compulsory sterilization against Uygur people and other ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang with her own experience.
“Some foreign media’s reports on the forced contraception and compulsory sterilization are sheer lies. There is no such kind of things at all. It was vicious of them to make these rumors although I have no idea why they did that,” Rehman said at the press conference.
“If we were ‘forced to have contraception and compulsory sterilization’, how come there are so many lovely children in the village,” Rehman said.
“The Family Planning Policy of our country is looser in Xinjiang,” Rehman noted, adding that she and her husband have two sons and a daughter.
The government cares about the reproductive health of ethnic minority women very much, according to Rehman, who added that she received free health care during pregnancy and that her children have enjoyed medical insurance and free education.
“The achievements in the development and progress of human rights in Xinjiang are obvious to all,” said Elijan Anayat, spokesperson of the Information Office of People’s Government of Xinjiang.
The arduous fight against terrorism and extremism in Xinjiang has brought worthwhile changes to the situation in the region, with unprecedented achievements being made in socio-economic development, improvement of people’s livelihood and protection of human rights, Anayat stressed at the press conference.
Since the end of 2018, more than 1,200 people of 80 groups have visited Xinjiang, including United Nations (UN) officials, foreign diplomatic envoys to China, representatives of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, permanent representatives of relevant countries to UN’s Geneva Office, media reporters and religious groups, Anayat said, adding that these people, who come from more than 100 countries and regions, generally appreciated China’s achievements in fighting against terrorism and extremism and safeguarding human rights.
Recently, an article by certain Western scholar claimed that “hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority laborers in Xinjiang are being forced to pick cotton by hand through a coercive state-mandated labor transfer and ‘poverty alleviation’ scheme” and that “the U.S. government should put a Withhold Release Order on any product that contains cotton from any part of Xinjiang, not just cotton produced in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) regions.”
Kakri Usur, a cotton farmer from Kuqa, county-level city of Xinjiang’s Aksu prefecture, was outraged by the claim.
“Recently I’ve heard some media reports abroad say that Xinjiang forces farmers to work or plant cotton, which is nonsense,” Usur said at the press conference.
“We grow cotton on our own land, collect our own cotton, earn our own money, get rich through our own hands and live a good life. How can it be called ‘forced labor’? We invited relatives and friends and cotton pickers to pick cotton. Each of them could earn more than 10,000 yuan ($1,548) by picking cotton for over two months,” Usur said, adding that there’s no need to force anyone into the work, because many people always race to get the job.
“Some people are slandering us,” Usur said, stressing that instead of protecting people’s rights, those who made such claims as “forced labor” in cotton picking in Xinjiang want to let farmers’ cotton rot in the field.
“They want to destroy our farmers’ income sources, so that we have no work or food, and return to the previous days of poverty,” Usur said, adding that people in Xinjiang would absolutely not let that happen.
At the press conference, a Uygur intellectual named Gulnar Uful told journalists that since last year, she has seen her name appear on different “lists” fabricated by external anti-China forces. They claimed that she had been “detained” or even started a rumor that she “had been persecuted to death”.
“These rumors have brought confusion to my family and distractions to my work. Therefore, I have refuted these rumors on many occasions,” Uful pointed out.
She wanted to send a stern warning to the “three forces” including the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), an organization that is reportedly found to be linked to terrorist groups and receives money from Western political organizations.
“Do not lie to the world in my name or with my image again, and stop hurting my family, my country and me. Or I will start legal process to defend my reputation and my country’s dignity,” Uful said.
As a Chinese saying goes, only the wearer knows whether the shoes fit or not, said Mamat Mamatmin, imam of Konashehar Mosque in Moyu County of Hotan prefecture, at the press conference.
The religious personnel and Muslims of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang know better than anyone else whether China’s religious policies are good or not, and the real truth about religious affairs in Xinjiang, Mamatmin stressed.
Normal religious activities of Muslims of all ethnic groups are guaranteed, the religious needs of Muslims are satisfied, and Islam in Xinjiang is well inherited by professional Islamic personnel, Mamatmin said.
Xinjiang is following the right path, Xu said, adding that everything it has done was done in a perfectly open and honest manner, and there’s nothing to hide in it.
“We welcome U.S. officials, including officials of the new U.S. government, to take a walk and have a look in Xinjiang, so as to understand the real situation in Xinjiang in case that they would be blinded by American politician Mike Pompeo’s lies,” Xu said.