Chinese President Xi Jinping has said the Communist Party’s policies in Xinjiang are “totally correct and must carry on for a long time” despite a growing international outcry over alleged human rights abuses in the region.
China has been accused of having detained at least 1 million Uygurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps and subjected them to political indoctrination and forced labour.
Beijing has denied the allegations and insisted these camps are “vocational training centres” where people are given education and training to improve their job prospects and counter religious extremism.
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Xi made the comments on Saturday at the party’s highest level meeting concerning the far western region, the Third Central Symposium on Xinjiang Work.
Xi told the central and provincial officials present that since the second symposium in 2014, Xinjiang has achieved significant economic growth, higher standards of living and better environmental protections, which he described as a “success proven by fact”, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
“All the party must regard the implementation of our Xinjiang policies as a political task to be completely and accurately accomplished, to make sure our work in Xinjiang always follows the correct political direction,” he said.
He said the “socialist rule of law” must be upheld to maintain social stability in Xinjiang, and emphasised the importance of ideological works, including education to promote a common Chinese identity and a Sinicised form of Islam.
Xi stressed the need for cadres in Xinjiang to implement the party’s policies and said a team of “loyal and competent” members of minority groups must be developed.
The last such meeting was held in May 2014, a month after a terrorist attack at the railway station in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, which left three dead and 79 others injured.
That meeting concluded that containing religious extremism and improving ethnic solidarity were the top priorities and led to the imposition of increasingly tight controls across the region.
But the crackdown has triggered increasing alarm internationally, including in the US where Congress is currently debating the Uygur Forced Labour Prevention Act that calls for an import ban on goods produced in Xinjiang.
Earlier this year, the Uygur Human Rights Policy Act imposed sanctions on groups and officials accused of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Earlier this month, Beijing issued a white paper titled “Employment and Labour Rights in Xinjiang” saying the regional government had organised “employment-oriented training on standard spoken and written Chinese, legal knowledge, general know-how for urban life and labour skills” to improve the structure of the workforce and combat poverty.
This week the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a Canberra-based think tank, released a report, which estimated that about 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policies, mostly since 2017.
The estimates were based on satellite imagery that examined satellite images of a sample of 900 religious sites, including mosques and shrines, taken before 2017 and comparing them with the present day.
The Chinese foreign ministry dismissed the report as “slanderous rumours”.
More from South China Morning Post:
- China defends its ‘vocational training centres’ in Xinjiang white paper
- Apparel group urges US to lead multinational campaign against forced labour in Xinjiang
- Congress urges Trump administration to get tougher on China’s Xinjiang crackdown
- Could Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics be hit by boycott over Xinjiang Muslim camps?
- European chief singles out China’s moves on Hong Kong, Xinjiang as she unveils new sanctions scheme
This article Xi Jinping defends ‘totally correct’ Xinjiang policies despite growing human rights concerns first appeared on South China Morning Post