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          Home / Opinion / Kang Bing

          West is lying about Xinjiang

          By Kang Bing | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-27 08:47
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          Cai Meng/China Daily

          For years some Western politicians and media outlets have been accusing China of violating human rights. They have passed bills accusing China of subjecting people to "forced labor" and committing "genocide", published reports which they claim expose China's poor human rights record and held hearings for some people who they allege were targeted by Chinese authorities.

          As a retired man who has visited all of China's provinces, regions and municipalities, and interviewed thousands of people during his 40-year journalism career, I have not engaged in any debate or argument with people who accuse China of human rights violations, for those attacking China will do so anyway. Citing facts and figures to counter their claims is like "playing the lute to a cow", as a Chinese saying goes.

          Besides, I believe that some external pressure, either out of ignorance or with an evil design, could serve as a warning to us to keep strengthening human rights protection.

          Yet one can't keep quiet on seeing China, a model of human rights protection and development for me, being bombarded with groundless accusations, lies, rumors and slanders. To make things worse, the anti-China forces wield the microphone like a weapon to influence the opinions of millions of uninitiated and innocent people in their own countries.

          As an English major, I learned the ABC of journalism in the United States and what was West Germany in the 1980s. I was taught that respecting facts and being objective are key elements of good journalism. My professors, I'm afraid, have all passed away. But if some of them were still alive, I would like to ask them whether they think what they taught us is still true, especially when it comes to reporting about China.

          My teachers also tried to convince me that facts speak louder than anything and everything. Although sometimes I doubt if that is really the case, especially judging by some Western media's reports on China's human rights record, I still believe human society would be doomed if facts were not respected.

          And the fact is that after decades of efforts, especially with the intensive campaign over the past 10 years, China has lifted more than 700 million people out of absolute poverty, an achievement that is unparalleled in the human rights, rather human, history. Unfortunately, such crucial facts have been largely neglected by the Western media, which are prone to digging some dirt up and highlighting the few loopholes in the poverty alleviation work that involved millions of people.

          The faces of some of the farmers I've interviewed float before my eyes as I write. I can hear them say how grateful they are to the Party and the government for giving them a life they could not have dreamed of. Those who lived in caves were shifted to new houses especially built for them by the government. And those who were seriously ill got proper medical treatment thanks to the medical insurance system which now covers about 95 percent of China's population.

          As far as the right to religious belief is concerned, it is well protected by the law in China. In northwestern Gansu and Ningxia which have a large Muslim population, newly built or renovated mosques can be seen in almost all villages where people are free to pray and engage in other religious activities. Statistics show that the number of religious venues in China has been increasing.

          I have visited the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region several times and interviewed Muslim clerics, professionals as well as common people from different ethnic groups. When asked about their opinion on some Western politicians and media accusing China of genocide in the region, they all responded with an angry "nonsense".

          The truth is that over the past four decades, the Uygur population in Xinjiang has more than doubled-a growth rate much higher than the regional and the national average. Those accusing China of genocide in the region will have to prove there has been no population growth in Xinjiang or explain how the population of an ethnic group that has faced genocide can grow faster than the national average.

          In fact, the prevalence of religious extremism, and terrorist activities prevented the region from developing economically in the past. As a result, jobs were difficult to get, especially for minority ethnic group members who lacked the required skills and could not speak standard Chinese. People who landed stable jobs would become the object of envy of the whole village or neighborhood, because with the income they earned, they could lift the entire family out of poverty. And some of those who didn't have stable jobs would work in the farms during harvest season. But even such seasonal jobs began disappearing because of mechanization.

          Why would a company or individual force someone to work when there are lots of job-seekers on the waiting list? And how could a company or individual do so under the watchful eyes of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, a ministry that safeguards and promotes the interests of the ethnic groups?

          When told about the accusation of forced labor, all that the locals, including Uygurs, could do was to shrug their shoulders and laugh.

          The real story is that over the past decade or so, the central government has been encouraging investors from home and abroad to set up shop in Xinjiang and create new jobs. As a result, Xinjiang's GDP has been growing at a faster rate than the national average. No wonder I saw big smiles on the faces of Xinjiang residents during my visits there.

          A country's human rights record can be assessed by determining whether it is upholding the interests of its people and whether the people have an increasing sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. Should I remind the China-bashers that the surveys and polls conducted by international organizations over the past few years show the Chinese people are among the group that is highly satisfied with their country's achievements and development prospects-over 90 percent are satisfied with governance, too?

          Yet human rights conditions in no country are perfect. China is no exception. And it's frustrating to see the exposure of new corruption cases and officials' malpractices which hurt people's interests and the country's development.

          Human rights protection is a long-term pursuit for all countries. And the goal can be realized only when all parties concerned sit together to find solutions to the problems-and quite often good solutions can be found only after brainstorming. Accusing each other won't take forward the global human rights cause, and those who accuse others of human rights violations by ignoring facts will one day become the laughing stock of the world.

          When you point one finger at someone, three fingers point at you. Perhaps the West needs to revisit this saying.

          The author is former deputy editor-inchief of China Daily.


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