Diplomatic Envoys From 12 Countries Visit Xinjiang
[Commentary by Mike Billington – I searched for coverage of this event in the Malaysian press, but found nothing. Note that Mohammed Hosnie Shahiran Ismail, counselor of the Malaysian embassy in China, is quoted saying that through the tour he saw that the Chinese government attaches great importance to religious freedom, and religious activities are protected by the State. Do any of you have any knowledge of this event? Thanks — Mike Billington – Economic Intelligence Review]
URUMQI－Diplomatic envoys from 12 countries observed the social and economic progress of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region during a tour from Dec 28 to 30.
The regional government invited diplomatic envoys and representatives from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Thailand and Kuwait.
They visited local markets, farmers, educational institutions, mosques, factories and vocational education centers.
Throughout the trip, members of the group interacted with local vendors, students and workers in Xinjiang and learned about the region’s progress in maintaining social stability, improving people’s livelihoods and developing the local economy. They said they expected to cooperate with Xinjiang in the fields of culture, tourism, economy and trade.
At the Grand Bazaar in the regional capital, Urumqi, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, charge d’affaires at the Pakistan embassy in China, said Xinjiang’s cultural vitality and people’s hospitality had impressed her deeply.
A Pakistani businessman at the bazaar told Baloch that he had married a Uygur woman and is happy with his life and work in Urumqi.
At the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, which offers three-year bachelor programs and religious training, Sameeh Johar Hayat, Kuwait’s ambassador to China, encouraged the students to learn more and contribute what they learn to the development of their country.
In Kashgar, the diplomatic envoys also visited a local economic development zone.
Upon seeing the wide variety of imported products from Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia in the zone, Piriya Khempon, Thailand’s ambassador to China, said the trip had deepened his understanding of the Belt and Road Initiative, which he said is important to Kashgar’s development.
Khempon said he believed the city is bound to become a lot better in the coming years thanks to its geographic advantages.
The envoys also visited the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, the largest mosque in Xinjiang, and were briefed about its improved facilities.
Mohammed Hosnie Shahiran Ismail, counselor of the Malaysian embassy in China, said that through the tour he saw that the Chinese government attaches great importance to religious freedom, and religious activities are protected by the State.
The trip refreshed his understanding of Xinjiang, he said, adding the region is different from what Western media has portrayed.
At a vocational education and training center in Kashgar, students study ethnic musical instruments, calligraphy, painting, law and other topics. The envoys asked in detail about the students’ life in the center and played ping-pong and basketball with them.
Djauhari Oratmangun, Indonesia’s ambassador to China, said the school had left a great impression on him and that students not only learn about law and acquire skills but also expand their understanding of their own culture.
At another vocational training center in Hotan, Kabaziyev Manarbek, counselor at Kazakhstan’s embassy in China, received an oil painting as a New Year’s gift created by a student who has studied art for half a year at the center.
Students master vocational skills through training and make a living with the skills later in life, Manarbek said, adding that it shows that the Chinese government truly cares about the trainees.
The envoys also visited a clothing factory in Hotan, where trained villagers work on the assembly lines. According to the factory’s owner, they receive a monthly salary of more than 3,000 yuan ($440).
People are busy studying and working here－a very different picture from the past, when people were often seen idling around without much to do, said Sayed Habiburahman Husinpur, charge d’affaires at the Afghanistan embassy in China, who has visited Xinjiang many times.
The vocational education and training program is a suitable arrangement that has improved the lives of many people and their families, Husinpur said. Many countries face issues such as “solving unemployment and de-extremism”, but the programs in Xinjiang are yielding good results and can provide reference points for other countries.