How Xinjiang tamed the scourge of terrorism
S M Hali
Fighting and preventing terrorism
In the previous article on the subject, ‘Xinjiang combats terrorism’, the scourge of terrorism was examined. Here, the solutions adopted by China to tame the scourge of terrorism are examined. China has come to the correct conclusion that religious extremism under the banner of Islam runs counter to Islamic doctrines. For a long time, separatists have tied extremism to religion, to religious believers, and to society as a whole. They tell people not to obey anyone but Allah and incite them to resist government management. They abuse those who do not follow the path of extremism as pagans, traitors and scum, urging their followers to verbally assault, reject, and isolate non-believers, Party members and officials, and patriotic religious individuals. They deny and reject all forms of secular culture, preaching a life without TV, radio or newspapers, forbidding people to weep at funerals or laugh at weddings, imposing bans on singing and dancing, and forcing women to wear heavily-veiled black long gowns. They over-generalise the ‘Halal’ concept, stamping food, medicine, cosmetics, clothing, and so on, with the Halal symbol. They turn a blind eye to the diverse and splendid cultures of Xinjiang created by all its ethnic groups, trying to sever the ties between the Chinese culture and the ethnic cultures of Xinjiang. All this indicates their denial of modern civilisation, rejection of human progress, and gross violation of the human rights of their fellow citizens.
Terrorist and extremist forces in Xinjiang, driven by the goal of separatism, are engaged in wildly sabotaging activities. The acts of terrorism ranged from killing people, including religious leaders, to blowing up buses, hijacking aircraft and wreaking havoc.
The solution that China has adopted is based on following the principles of rule of law and a law-based approach in combatting terrorism and extremism in Xinjiang. The situation is severe and complex; members of all ethnic groups are insistent in their demands that violent and terrorist crimes be punished, and that their lives and property be protected. Therefore, in accordance with the law, the local government strikes at all sorts of violent and terrorist activities that violate human rights, endanger public security, undermine ethnic unity, and split the country.
Counterterrorism and de-radicalisation in Xinjiang have always been conducted in accordance with the law. Currently, China’s anti-terrorism law system is composed of the Constitution, the Criminal Law, the Criminal Procedure Law, the National Security Law, the Counterterrorism Law, the Regulations on Religious Affairs, and the Opinions on Certain Issues Concerning the Application of Law in Handling Criminal Cases Involving Terrorism and Extremism jointly issued by the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Justice.
In view of local reality and in accordance with the Legislation Law of the People’s Republic and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, Xinjiang has accelerated the enactment of local regulations, including the Regulations of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Religious Affairs, its Measures on Implementing the Counterterrorism Law, and its Regulations on De-radicalisation. These laws and regulations are powerful legal instruments to contain and combat terrorism and extremism. In line with the above-mentioned laws and regulations, the local government upholds the principles of protecting lawful activities, curbing illegal actions, containing extremism, resisting infiltration, and preventing and punishing crimes.
Contrary to Western propaganda, the local government fully respects and safeguards civil rights including freedom of religious belief. It protects lawful religious activities, fulfils the reasonable religious demands of believers, protects the legitimate rights and interests of citizens and organisations, strikes severely at all forms of terrorism, and forbids violations of the law and crimes such as spreading extremism, inciting ethnic hatred, and dividing the country by means of religion.
Xinjiang has focused on improving people’s standard of living and implementing projects that benefit the public
With facts as the basis and the law as the criterion, judicial organs in Xinjiang adopt a policy that strikes the right balance between compassion and severity. Ringleaders, core members, and major offenders who are held accountable for organising, planning and implementing violent, terrorist and religious extremist crimes are severely punished in accordance with the law; and repeat offenders– those who have previously received administrative and criminal punishment, or have been exempt from criminal punishment after committing violent, terrorist and religious extremist crimes, are found committing the same crimes again– are severely punished in accordance with the law; minor offenders who have pleaded guilty are sentenced leniently in accordance with the law; juvenile offenders, deluded and coerced offenders are sentenced leniently in accordance with law; offenders who have voluntarily surrendered themselves or helped in cracking cases are sentenced leniently or have their prison terms reduced in accordance with the law. Punishment is used effectively to reform the offenders and prevent crimes. While they make sure real criminals are punished, judicial organs in Xinjiang protect the defendants’ right to defence and the right to use their own language in litigation.
Law-based de-radicalisation has been launched in Xinjiang to deal with illegal religious activities, illegal religious publicity materials, and illegal spread of religions through the internet, which has effectively curbed the breeding and spread of religious extremism. Religious extremism’s interference in administration, judicial affairs, education, marriage and medical services has been eradicated; school enrolment rate has increased significantly and continues to rise; the public has become more aware of the dangers of religious extremism. At the same time, lawful religious activities have been protected more effectively through the promulgation and amendment of local regulations concerning religious affairs. These local regulations specify the rights and interests of religious groups, religious staff, and venues for religious activities, and draw a clear line between lawful and illegal religious activities, providing legal guarantees for people of all ethnic groups to engage in lawful religious activities. In recent years, in particularly, mosques in Xinjiang have been equipped with running water, electricity, gas, radio and television facilities and libraries. Roads leading there have been paved to make access easier. Bathing equipment and flush toilets have been installed in Jumma mosques. Other facilities newly installed or added to mosques include medical services, LED screens, computers, electric fans or air conditioners, fire-fighting equipment, drinking water facilities, shoe coverings or automatic dispenser of shoe coverings, and lockers. All this has greatly improved the conditions for religious activities.
Instead of adopting a reactive approach, a proactive path has been followed. Based on experience learned from the international community, China has been active in implementing the resolution of the UN General Assembly concerning the United Nations Global Counterterrorism Strategy (60/288) and has been working hard to wipe out the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and to prevent and combat terrorism. Based on its own conditions, Xinjiang has been making intensive counterterrorism and de-radicalisation efforts. Upholding the principle of fighting and preventing terrorism at the same time, the autonomous region has been taking aggressive action against violent terrorist crimes, and at the same time, addressing the problem at its source. It has been making every effort to protect the fundamental human rights of citizens from violation by terrorism and extremism. Specific measures include improving public wellbeing, promoting knowledge of the law through education, and offering education and aid through vocational education and training centres in accordance with the law. Public wellbeing is vital to people’s happiness and to social harmony and stability. In the past, some areas in Xinjiang suffered from terrorism, and religious extremism infiltrated people’s work and daily life, causing great damage and posing a threat to social stability, economic development, and security. In recent years, following a people-centred approach to development, Xinjiang has focused on ensuring and improving people’s standard of living and implementing projects that benefit the public in employment, education, medical care, social security, and other fields to tame the scourge of terrorism.