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Real Xinjiang contradicts West's lies
September 27,2022   By:China Daily
Sept. 27, 2022 -- A six-day visit to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region which ended on Sept 20 was an eye-opener for 11 journalists from Macao's Portuguese — and English-language media. The trip was also the Macao-based journalists' expression of solidarity with the people of Xinjiang whose region has been maligned by exiled separatists and anti-China politicians in the West for far too long.
 
The anti-China forces' allegations of genocide are preposterous judging by what the Macao journalists, most of whom had not visited the region before, saw and heard in Xinjiang.
 
The extraordinarily well-organized tour took place at the invitation of the Office of the Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry of the People's Republic of China in the Macao Special Administrative Region.
 
Liu Xianfa, chief of the Commission of the Foreign Ministry of the PRC in Macao, quoting an old adage, told us a few days before we set off for the trip that anyone who hasn't been to Xinjiang doesn't know how large China is, and anyone who hasn't been to the region doesn't know how beautiful China is.
 
Liu's remarks were spot-on. He knew what he was talking about as he has visited Xinjiang half a dozen times when working as an executive in a petroleum enterprise.
 
Xinjiang, meaning "new frontier", is both huge (1.66 million square kilometers or one-sixth of the total size of China) and stunningly beautiful. It is larger than Western Europe's three biggest countries (France, Spain and Germany) put together. And its population is about 26 million, about the same as Australia.
 
The visit took us to the regional capital of Urumqi, the prefecture-level city of Karamay in the north, and county-level city of Tacheng abutting Kazakhstan.
 
En route by bus from Urumqi to Karamay, we visited a cotton field where we talked with representatives of the cooperative that runs the farm's operations. It was the first cotton plantation I visited in my life. It was also the first time I touched raw cotton bolls and climbed on top a combine harvester.
 
Politically, the cotton field visit was important because some Western politicians and media have accused Xinjiang's cotton producers of using "forced labor" to pick cotton. The cooperative representative at the farm, however, told us that hand-harvesting was replaced by machines in Xinjiang a number of years ago.
 
The region produces one-fifth of the world's cotton, arguably the world's oldest cash crop, and one can only hope that Western importers' ill-advised boycott of Xinjiang's high-quality cotton will soon be a thing of the past. Not least because, as has been all-too-often the case, the West's boycotts and sanctions hurt hardworking people the most.
 
In Karamay, one of China's most important oil-producing and refining hubs, we visited Black Oil Mountain, a natural asphalt mound formed by the overflow of crude oil millions of years ago. The scenery in Karamay (which means "black oil" in the region's Uygur language) resembles a Martian landscape ideal for film productions such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
 
I saw oil seeping out of the soil for the first time in my life in Karamay. And Karamay's thoroughly digitalized city administration and beautifully built village resorts showed us that development has reached even the country's remotest areas.
 
In Tacheng, an agricultural hub, we visited a Tatar household, a family comprising six ethnicities, as well as an accordion museum where both adults and kids performed for us with gusto.
 
At a lunch hosted by the Tacheng local officials, I took the liberty to suggest that Tacheng and Macao should become sister cities. They have a lot in common — they are multi-ethnic and multi-cuisine destinations for example — and both are part of the Belt and Road Initiative-Tacheng as an ancient Silk Road trading post between Asia and Europe, Macao as China's oldest entrepot for trade with Asia, Europe and even the Americas.
 
Xinjiang has three main tourist attractions: beautiful sceneries, delicious food and, last but not least, its people's warm-hearted hospitality (as far as the latter is concerned, people in Macao could learn from their counterparts in Tacheng).
 
On the other hand, the renowned Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM) could assist Xinjiang in training its tourism and travel sector professionals including those working in the hotel and restaurant industry.
 
Xinjiang is a culinary paradise, and I guess we all gained a few kilos during the trip. But what is still missing is a direct airlink between Macao and Xinjiang.
 
During our almost weeklong stay in Xinjiang, we were able to meet people from different ethnicities, including Uygur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tatar, admire their cultures and savor their cuisines. In our meetings with members of the region's different communities living and working side by side, as well as the offspring of intermarriages, ethnic unity was not just visible but could be felt too.
 
In Urumqi, we visited an exhibition on the evil acts of terrorism that beset the region until about six years ago. While I knew about the incidents, I wasn't fully aware of the extent of brutality the religious extremists and separatists resorted to, and the fact that their heinous crimes go back decades.
 
The imam of Yanghang Mosque and vice-rector of the Xinjiang Islamic Institute in Urumqi briefed us about the region's religious practices and studies on Sept 19. The exhibition, the imam's remarks and our conversations with the local people reaffirmed my view that terrorism is not related to ethnic or religious groups per se; instead, an "unholy" mix of politics and religion breeds extremism ultimately ending up in terrorism. And civic education and job training are the right way to pre-empt the emergence of politico-religious extremism and terrorism.
 
We also visited a raft of museums in Xinjiang, and I think those tasked with running Macao's museums could take a leaf out of the book of their counterparts in Xinjiang. The museums are a treasure trove of Xinjiang's relics, multi-ethnic culture and the arts.
 
The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
 
By: Harald Brüning. The author is director of the Macau Post Daily.
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