There’s a counter-narrative against China’s accusation of extremism in XinjiangHURIN EIN
SHAH ALAM – China is telling a lie when it claims that they are targeting the Uyghurs to curb radicalism, extremism and terrorism.
East Turkistan Human Rights Watch Association president Nurmuhammad Majid said there was a counter-narrative against China’s accusation of brewing radicalistic and extremist ideologies in Xinjiang.
“There is a counter-narrative that the Chinese government are heavily investing on in the region.
“Billions of dollars to build airports, infrastructures and other linkages for the purpose of their Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects,” he said in an exclusive interview with Sinar Daily on its Fireside Chat programme.
The programme moderated by Zaidi Azmi discussed about the Uyghur-Chinese conflict.
The BRI project was a global infrastructure development strategy initiated by the Chinese government under the leadership of President Xi Jinping in 2013 for future investments with nearly 150 countries and international organisations.
The project included massive construction of highways, railways, energy pipelines and streamlined border crossings going through the west of the former Soviet republics to the south towards Pakistan, India, and the rest of Southeast Asia.
Although the project gained supporters for its potential of boosting international trade flow, there were also criticisms of human rights and environmental violations as well as a rising concern of debt-trap diplomacy which may result in economic imperialism.
Nurmuhammad said there was no evidence to support China’s claim that Xinjiang was a place of terrorism, radicalism or other means of violence because if terrorism truly existed in Xinjiang, the locals must have done something to tamper with the mega project.
“Is there any evidence that any of the proportion of these projects have been damaged, undermined, stopped or delayed?.
"No way,” he said.
He also pointed out that it was impossible that Xinjiang was a place of terrorism and violence as it had been a popular tourist spot for the Han Chinese.
He said on a yearly basis, Xinhua news agency published China’s tourism revenue and found that more than 180 to 200 million Han Chinese will travelled to East Turkistan to unwind.
“There has been no single instance reported by the Chinese media or legal institution to state that the tourists were harmed or faced any kinds of threat by the locals,” he said.
He was even of the view that the Uyghur nation had actually been loyal to the Chinese administrative system and had been contributing vastly to the Chinese economic revenue for the last 72 years under the country's occupation.
“They are sourcing our resources. Getting our oil, natural gas, petrol and gold mining, water resources and fertile lands.
“Taking all aspects,” he said.
He added that before China took over Xinjiang, the Uyghurs of East Turkistan were a sovereign and independent nation which had their own constitution and diplomacy which was even recognised by the British Empire and the Soviet Union, the two major superpowers at that time.
However, he said today, China completely denied the existence of the historical sovereignty and independence of East Turkistan.
“In order to achieve the Chinese dream, they want to suppress this nation,” he said.
Nurmuhammad said initially, Uyghur Muslims were the natives and inhabitants of East Turkistan located in the Central Asian region.
He said the Chinese occupation of the Uyghurs started in 1949 and the region was then renamed to Xinjiang which means the "New Territory".
He said subsequently, the Uyghurs and other ethnic groups were alleged to have faced oppression and human rights violations under the assimilation policy implemented by the Chinese government.
Although the majority of the Uyghur population continued to stay in their homeland, some were scattered across the world such as in Central Asia, Turkiye, Middle Eastern countries, Europe, America, Australia, New Zealand and some parts of Japan, Nurmuhammad added.