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Diplomats from 8 countries visit Xinjiang
2019-02-28 source:Xinhua
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Senior diplomats from eight countries visit an Islamic institute in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Feb 16. They represent their countries in the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland. [Photo/Xinhua]

Senior diplomats from the permanent missions of eight countries to the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland, visited the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region from Feb 16 to 19 at the invitation of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The diplomats - from Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Egypt, Cambodia, Russia, Senegal and Belarus - spoke with trainees at vocational education and training centers, clerics and other members of the public during their visit.

They agreed that the Chinese government has made achievements in preventing terrorism, safeguarding the religious freedom of its citizens and conserving ethnic traditions and culture.

Since the 1990s, disruptive forces at home and abroad have plotted thousands of violent acts and gravely damaged the stability, solidarity and progress of Xinjiang, trampling the basic human rights of life, health, property and development, the regional government said.

Terrorism exhibit

At the Xinjiang International Convention and Exhibition Center, the diplomats viewed an exhibit on major terrorist cases in the region.

Nikita Zhukov, deputy permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the UN's Geneva office, said he could not bear to look at the video clips and pictures.

"Terrorism should not have been present in modern society like this. It is an absolute demon and must be destroyed," Zhukov said. "It is important to fight terrorism according to law, and the Chinese government has done so."

Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, permanent representative of the Republic of Cuba to the UN office, said the exhibit showed that anyone could become a victim of terrorism.

In recent years, Xinjiang has focused on the prevention of terrorism by striking at the root of the problem. It aims to forestall terrorist attacks by providing a platform for people who have been influenced by extreme thoughts and committed minor crimes, so that they can change their thinking, learn Mandarin, boost legal awareness and master vocational skills.

No violent terrorist activities have been reported in the last 25 months in Xinjiang, authorities said.

Sam Ol Ney, permanent representative of Cambodia to the UN office, said terrorism and extremism sabotaged peace and caused heavy casualties in Xinjiang. Terrorism, in whatever form, can't be forgiven, he said.

At the vocational education and training centers in Kashgar and Moyu counties in Hotan prefecture, the diplomats inquired in detail about the life and education of the trainees.

Trainees study Mandarin and the law, and take practical courses in auto repair, hairdressing, baby care, health and farming.

Vadim Pisarevich, the deputy permanent representative of Belarus to the UN office, said it's foolish to make accusations against the centers, as students are learning needed skills to improve their lives.

Jorge Hidalgo Valero Briceno, permanent representative of Venezuela to the UN office, said the accusations were politically charged and made by those who do not believe in the Chinese people.

Modern facilities

Zhukov said the centers resemble colleges, with modern buildings and comfortable lodging.

The purpose of the centers is to boost the capabilities of the people, said Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta. People should be educated; otherwise they easily fall victim to those who exploit them for illegal ends, he said.

After observing a class on law, Pisarevich said it was right for the Chinese government to establish the centers. It is also in line with the principles and spirit of the law, he said.

The delegates visited the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, as well as the old city of Kashgar and local families.

Serigne Dieye, minister counselor of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Senegal to the UN's Geneva office, said that as a Muslim he felt glad to see that the Chinese government has protected religious freedom.

Facilities for drinking water, heating and bathing at the mosque were all provided by the government, which was another positive effort on its part, Dieye said.

Thanks to a large-scale renovation project launched in 2010, Kashgar residents now enjoy a modern, convenient life in houses with unique traditional designs.

The project respected the wishes of residents to preserve their culture and set a good example for other cities, local representatives said.

"In the old city, we see a combination of old culture and modern development," Zhukov said after talking with a craftsman who makes traditional musical instruments as the fifth-generation inheritor of the craft in his family. His son will continue to carry on the family tradition as well.

The effort by the local government and residents to maintain traditions amid development is laudatory, Zhukov said.