Chinese Profs Respond to the Public i on Their Government’s Response to Violence in Xinjiang

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In the August 2009 issue of the Public i, we published an
article that was very critical of the Chinese government’s
treatment of the Uygur (or Uighur, as it is usually spelled
in the U.S.) minority. This article was read by the Freeman
Scholars here at the U of I. These are Chinese scholars who
spend an academic year here doing research. They took
great exception to the article which, in their mind, was
inaccurate and biased against the Chinese government, and
favorable toward the Uygur’s who rose up against the Chinese
Government’s control over Xinjianng in Western
China. Many majority Han people living there were killed
and injured in the violence. We thus offered the Freeman
Fellows space in the paper to respond. Here are the responses
of three of them, all majority Han Chinese:
The conflict is essentially not between the
Hans and the Uighur people, but rather
between a small part of the Uighur people
who scheme the separation from the
central government and all the other people
of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who are against
that and want to maintain the integrity of the PRC. It
deserves attention that those who support the so-called
independence activities are extremely small in number in
comparison with the Uigur population, and most of Uighur
people live peacefully and friendly with the Hans. As it is
well-known, almost all the countries in the world will
stoutly sustain their integrity. In the past, it was not allowed
that the Southern states got divorced from America. There
is no reason for China to be an exception.
In order to realize their political objectives and obtain
more support from organizations abroad, which intend to
split, obstruct and suppress China, the Uighur rioters adopted
the way of attacking the innocent people in the streets,
not only the Hans, but also the Uighur and other ethnic
minorities. It is no doubt unlawful and shall be punished
according to law in every country all over the world. The
Uighur rioters’ behavior is for sure terrorist and just the same
as Bin Laden’s.
Chinese culture is a complex of all the cultures of the
Hans and the minorities, and Uighur culture is of course an
important integral part of it. Therefore the development
and prosperity of Uighur culture is an indispensable part of
that of Chinese culture. What the Chinese government
does is to promote and support the development of Uighur
culture, just like it does to the cultures of the other minorities.
In fact, the Chinese government has done a great deal
to advance the Uighur culture’s development, including
providing budgets, setting up institutions, constructing
buildings and holding events, and the Hans have made
great contributions to it. Facts speak louder than words.
The saying that the Chinese government and the Hans
destroy and suppress Uighur culture is totally nonsense.
The riots taking place in the past several
months in the Xinjiang Uygur
Autonomous Region were undoubtedly
plotted by Uygur separatists outside the
country to split the unity of different ethnic
groups in the region. The rioters just attempted to sow
seeds of animosity between the Uygur and the Han Chinese,
which they expected would carry forward their conspiracy
of separating Xinjiang from China. The author of the Public
i article ignored or even twisted the facts of the Chinese governments’
efforts to restore order in Urumqi, the capital of
Xinjiang. The suggestion or description of this response to
the riots as a kind of genocide in Western reports is an irresponsible
and groundless accusation.The description of the
riots in Xinjiang as “a kind of genocide” in some reports is
an irresponsible and groundless accusation. The reporters
apparently ignored or even twisted the facts that the Chinese
government has done its best to restore order in
Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The harmony of different
ethnic groups has been the top priority of both the central
and local governments for many years. This can be evidenced
by various preferential policies of the central government
for ethnic minority groups. It is quite common in
the increasingly globalized world for people from different
ethnic groups to live together in the same land. So it is
insensitive and ridiculous to interpret the co-inhabitance of
the Uygur and Han Chinese in Xinjiang as the Han people’s
assimilation of the Uygur ethnic group.
Xinjiang is a region where at least 13 ethnic
groups have lived together since
ancient times. They are entitled to live
peacefully and happily in this region
.That is to say, Xinjiang has been a place of multi-cultural,
multi-religious, multi-lingual co-existence and mutual
influence . The history of Xinjiang is created by the Chinese
people of all nationalities. A small number of separatists
shouted the slogans “Let’s get the Han Chinese out
of Xinjiang”, and “Xinjiang is an Uygur state” This is totally
distorting historical facts and realities. In fact, the
Uygurs°Ø ancestors are from the northern part of Baikal
Lake in the Mongolian plateau . Xinjiang became a part of
the central dynasty’s territory of China well before the
Uygars migrated there.
In a number of policy areas, the Chinese government
has given preferential treatment of minorities for 60 years..
Chinese minorities get preferential treatment in entrance
examinations and enrollments in higher educational institutions,
employment, and family planning . Uygur people
in Xinjiang occupy powerful positions at all levels of government.
Hans envy the Uygurs. Han Chinese even are
willing to pretend to minorities to get the preferential treatment,
but have not seen Uygurs wanting to pass as Hans.
In reality, the mainstream relationship between the
Uygur and Han-Chinese can be characterized as one of solidarity
and friendly cooperation, something like relationship
between brothers and sisters in one family. I had a
Uygur girl undergraduate. She was studying in the history
department in the Southwest University. I invited her to eat
Islamic meals with me, and she gave my daughter a flute as
a birthday gift. I guided her to the completion of her dissertation
for a bachelor°Øs degree in history. After graduation
she began working as a history teacher in a secondary
school in Beibei District, Chongqing. She has married a
local businessman. They bought a new house and live a
happy life. I have a graduate student who is 32-years old, a
teacher in Hotan Normal College, Xinjiang. Two years ago,
the Chinese nation paid for his studies in Switzerland. Last
year he enrolled as a graduate student in Southwest University
in China. Even though his scores were lower than those
of the Han Chinese, we allowed him to enter and to study
the economic history of Xinjiang Uygur, with particular
emphasis on the current agricultural economy of the
Uygurs. I respect his religious beliefs and customs. We
often go to Islamic restaurants, walk together, discuss academic
issues, and exchange ideas without any obstacles.
I also saw on Central China Television that an elderly
Uygur couple in Xinjiang has adopted a nonUygur baby
girl who was abandoned by birth parents. The baby girl
was suffering from various diseases. The elderly Uygur couple
was very poor, but they overcome difficulties, sought
medicine and doctors everywhere, and finally cured her
diseases. Now they are supporting her as she grows up.
Through the media reports£¨ this story made many people
teary-eyed, including me. We can see that people of all
nationalities in Xinjiang take care mutual care of each
other. The ethnic relations are basically harmonious.
A few terrorists and separatists create trouble and
attempt to destroy the harmony and unity of ethnic relations,
and to endanger the peaceful lives of people. They are
not only the enemies of the Han people, but also the enemies
of the Uygur people. They are the enemies of the Chinese
nation and of peace-loving people in the world. No
country will allow criminals to kill innocent citizens and
burn houses as they like. China is determined to safeguard
national unity and solidarity between ethnic groups, which
is in line with humanism. The international community
should understand and support China’s good intentions.

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