(TibetanReview.net, May02’23) – In a blatant act of co-opting friendly countries to carry out its dirty propaganda work, China has taken diplomats from 14 countries on a junket to Xinjiang (East Turkestan) and asked them to “refute” global criticisms of its severe persecution of the mostly Uyghur Muslims there. Parliaments of several Western countries have, in fact, accused China of being engaged in committing genocide of the Muslims of Xinjiang while the UN has called for investigation of what appeared to it to be crime-against-humanity atrocities indicated by its experts’ preliminary investigation of the situation there.
The diplomats include those from Islamic or Muslim-dominant or -majority countries too.
Envoys from 14 countries, including Brazil, Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Ecuador and Senegal, visited northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) from April 24 to 28 at the invitation of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reported the official Xinhua news agency Apr 29.
The report said the envoys, stationed in different cities across China, visited the Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, as well as Kashgar, Turpan and other locations in Xinjiang “to experience first-hand the social and economic development of the region.”
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Ma Xingrui, the Communist party secretary of Xinjiang has urged the visiting diplomats to support Beijing with “a strong voice” in the face of condemnation from the United States and other Western countries over the repression of Muslim Uyghurs, reported the Uyghur Service of rfa.org May 1.
The report cited Ma as having called on the diplomats to raise “their just voices” in support of Beijing by speaking out on behalf of China in the international arena. And they appear to have dutifully complied with that call.
“To root out terrorism, it is crucial to have a comprehensive plan for a region’s development and help people improve their lives,” Agha Hunain Abbas Khan, Pakistani acting consul general in Chengdu, has said after visiting an exhibition on Xinjiang’s counterterrorism and deradicalization work.
Ben Perkasa Drajat, Indonesian consul general in Guangzhou, has reportedly given high praise to the local government’s efforts to guarantee people’s freedom of religious belief. He has been cited as claiming “Muslims in Xinjiang are free to go to the mosque to pray, after visiting the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar and the Xinjiang Islamic Institute.”
“The news from the Western media that the Chinese government doesn’t allow Muslims to do religious activities is not true.”
The report cited the envoy from “the country with the world’s largest Muslim population”, as saying “Indonesia resolutely opposes external forces that manipulate the Xinjiang issue, interfere in China’s internal affairs and attempt to split China,” regurgitating China’s official propaganda rhetoric.
Judyth Muthoni Nsababera, Ugandan consul general in Guangzhou, was also reported to have said “she would not blindly believe the lies about Xinjiang that have been fabricated by Western media,” repeating another familiar propaganda line from Beijing.
“It is important to come and see the region and feel it in person, and China has the right to choose its own path,” she has reportedly asserted.
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As international condemnation of Beijing mounts, the Chinese government has been inviting representatives of pro-China countries to visit Xinjiang to see what officials say is the region’s achievements in economic and social developments and the improvement of people’s livelihoods, said the rfa.org report.
The report cited Hu Ping, a US-based Chinese affairs commentator and former chief editor of Beijing Spring magazine, as saying Ma’s words reflected the Chinese government’s efforts to improve its deteriorating global image due to its ethnic genocide policy toward Uyghurs.
“The Chinese government is now using this method [inviting foreign guests] to soothe the international community’s attitude toward China,” he has said.
“The Chinese government is taking advantage of this type of opportunity, trying to show a ‘fake happy Xinjiang’ to the outside world and thus attempting to hide its crimes against humanity committed with cruel methods.”
Likewise, Ilshat Hesen, a US-based Uyghur activist and a vice chairman of the executive committee of the World Uyghur Congress, has said the Chinese government has invited foreign delegations to visit Xinjiang in recent years to try to counter the effect of economic sanctions imposed by Western nations.
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Meanwhile, during the Eid al-Fitr over Apr 20-21, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, only people aged 60 and above were allowed to pray, said an rfa.org Uyghur Service report Apr 27, quoting local police and residents.
The rest of the local population was stated to have been banned from offering prayers, whether at home or in mosques, which remained closed.
According to official estimates, about 12 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslims, live in Xinjiang, which is officially known as the XUAR. They now constitute about half the region’s population as a result of large-scale resettlement of Chinese immigrants by Beijing over the past decades.