By Wang Yu, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan
“Our Xinjiang is a land of wonders. Beautiful scenes extend to the North and South of Mount Tianshan…” Bordering the northeast Afghanistan, the beautiful and richly endowed Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is home to more than 2.5 million people of all ethnic groups. The modernized Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, the quiet and beautiful Kanas Lake and the splendid Turpan Depression make Chinese and international tourists linger on with no thought of leaving for home. Since the 18th CPC Central Committee and especially the second central symposium on work related to Xinjiang, people of all ethnic groups have felt fully satisfied, happy and secure, and new vitality has been injected everywhere in Xinjiang, the land of treasure, where touching stories take place one after another.
New Changes in the Muye (Husbandry) New Village of the Third Ranch
Muye New village of the Third Ranch, Jimsar County is the residence of ethnic Kazakh herdsmen where dozens of herdsman families from three towns in the mountainous region live. Mamurhan Korang is an ordinary villager who always like to talk to visitors about his story of achieving prosperity. He remembers clearly that about five to six years ago the village was merely a desolate meadow, and herdsmen including himself were living in poverty on the barren land of wild grass, relying on the herding and cultivating techniques passing down from ancestors. In 2014 his family was confirmed as the household registered as living under the poverty line and received six cattle and 17 sheep from the local government. He also received the breed and variety improvement and techniques of scientific cultivation from the activity organized by the village, and adopted drip irrigation for plantation with the help of the local government. Six years on, with the techniques acquired, he now has 15 cattle and 110 sheep as the herding scale keeps expanding, and his annual household net income has exceeded 6 000 USD.
Ahan, an old villager at his 60s, likes to talk about the delightful changes of living environments of his household. In the past five years, the local government has invested in and fulfilled the infrastructure construction including water and power supply as well as roads, with tarmac roads extending in all directions and trees planted all along them, and the previous meadow has turned into a modernized village. Like others, Ahan’s family has lived in a earthquake-resistant house of 120 square metres, which cost 12 000 USD in total but only cost Ahan less than 3 000 USD thanks to the local government subsidy. He has all the household appliances at home including television and refrigerator, and in the front yard vegetables are planted and chickens are cultivated. Ahan is quite satisfied, often saying that he has nothing to worry about but a lot to be delighted with.
Mamurhan and Ahan share the common happy story with everyone else in Xinjiang. In the past five years, the per capita disposable income for residents in Xinjiang has rose by 1.5 times and 10 million people have moved into new houses. Decisive achievements have been made in poverty alleviation in Xinjiang: in 2014 totally 3.089 million people were registered as living under the poverty line and the by the year 2019 totally 2.9232 million residents have been lifted out of poverty; rural poor people are basically free from worries over food and clothing and have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing, and people live and work in contentment.
Alley of Ethnic Unity in Xinyuan County
Kengsu Town of Xinyuan County is 300 kilometres away from the southwest of Urumqi. In an alley of the town there are nine households from Han, Uyghur, Kazakh and Hui ethnic groups, and it is the place where warm hearted stories take place every day.
Zhang Guiying is an ethnic Chinese villager aged 80. She is not in good health, but her husband passed away early and her children are not around. She lives on well all these years thanks to the help of her neighbour Kurman, an ethnic Uyghur. Once the water pipe in her house leaked late at night in the winter with water flowing everywhere, making Zhang helpless. Aware of the situation, Kurman came to her house immediately and fixed the pipe. In a few days it snowed and Kurman came to help sweep snow for her. “Kurman’s parents and I have been neighbours for more than 50 years, and we have been helping each other like families. Kurman is just like my son,” said Zhang.
Tursinbay Alli is an ethnic Kazakh and elderly resident living alone. Since he had intramedullary rod inserted in his back in his early years, now he is not able to take care of himself in his old age. After Omar, Tursinbay’s Uyghur neighbour, knew the situation, he often comes to help take care of the elder including bathing, turning his body, changing clothes, cutting fingernails and supporting him while walking in the yard, lasting 15 years already. “Our two families have got along well with each other since I was young. Now that he has difficulties, I should do my best to help as we are lifelong good neighbours and relatives,” said Omar.
Ma Hailan is a warm-hearted ethnic Hui resident and has developed a deep friendship with her longtime Uyghur neighbour Imanam. With Ma’s help, Imanam acquired the technique of growing vegetables, thus meeting her families’ need for vegetable consumption and creating more sources of income. Both of them say that they get along so well that they are just sisters.
The alley of Ethnic Unity in the Kengsu Town shows in miniature the unity of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang who are of the same family. People of all the 56 ethnic groups live in Xinjiang which spans over 1.6 million square kilometres, including the major ethnic groups with larger populations such as Uyghurs, the Han, the Kazakhs and the Hui, as well as the ethnic minorities familiar to Afghan people like Tajiks and Uzbeks. All the ethnic groups create a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation, live together in harmony, support each other in unity, and jointly safeguard Xinjiang’s security and stability, contributing greatly to long-term peace and social and economic development in Xinjiang.
Beautiful Night Scene in Urumqi
After the nightfall comes, Liu Haiqiang, an Urumqi citizen, likes to come to the Xidaqiao Bridge, watching the glittering lights and intoxicated with the colourful and peaceful Urumqi. He and his families also often go to the pedestrian zone of Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar, fully enjoying the cuisines and dances, and feeling the charm and vitality of modernization and internationalization of this old city.
But Liu deeply understands how difficult it is to achieve such peace and security. On July 5,2009 violent terrorist attack took place in Urumqi, causing nearly 200 deaths and more than 1700 injuries. The Grand Bazaar was the epicentre of the riot and became desolate afterwards. On May 22, 2014 anther group of rioters drove two vehicles into the morning market in Gongyuan North Street near Xidaqiao, ran down the people unaware and triggered explosives, resulting in 39 innocent deaths and more than 90 injuries. These terrorist attacks left people panic and depression in the market for a while in Xinjiang.
People of all ethnic groups have deep resentment against violent terrorists. Following people’s will, the local government strikes hard and overhauls the situation, fights hard against the three evil forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism, and insures the social stability and long-term peace. In more than past three years, not a single incident of terrorist attack took place in Xinjiang, and people feel very safe and comfortable as they can wander in the bazaar, play with their children in the parks, and shops can feel free to remain open until midnight. Meanwhile more visitors have come to Xinjiang. In 2019 213 million domestic and international visitors to Xinjiang were received in total, a 42% increase from last year, bringing the revenue of more than 55 billion USD.
China is a unified multi-ethnic country and has long-term and consistent ethnic and religious policies, treating all regions, ethnic groups and religions equally without any differentiation based on region, ethnicity or religion. Chinese government is committed to create a strong sense of community for the Chinese nation and upholds the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation, which consolidates ethnic unity and realizes healthy development of all religions, welcomed and supported by people of all ethnic groups nationwide. Xinjiang is a multi-ethnic region of multiple religions. For a while some people tried hard to exploit the topic of ethnicity and religion to advocate separatism, disseminate extremism and create violent terrorism, once severely undermining the stability in Xinjiang. Since the second central symposium on work related to Xinjiang, thanks to the efforts from all sides, the situation in Xinjiang is sound where the society is stable and people live and work in contentment, a sense of community for the Chinese nation becomes part of the thinking shared by people of all ethnic groups, the bond of ethnic unity becomes more solid, and religious harmony gets consolidated, laying the solid foundation for the long-term peace in Xinjiang.
Afghanistan and Xinjiang are very close neighbors connected by mountains and rivers. The two sides are a community with a shared future, and the better the Xinjiang, the better the Afghanistan. Many Afghan friends have visited Xinjiang, including government and political party officials, journalists, students and technicians. Around 200 Afghan babies with congenial heart defect had a “new birth” after they had received their surgeries in Urumqi. As they told me, in Xinjiang they felt the warmest welcome, saw the most beautiful smile, and tasted the sweetest Hami melon, and to them Xinjiang is the most reassuring friend and neighbour.
During the third central symposium on work related to Xinjiang held this year, president Xi Jinping concluded the achievements gained from all sides in Xinjiang in the past five years, made a comprehensive plan on the work related to Xinjiang in the new era, and stressed that the CPC’s policies on governing Xinjiang for the new era must be adhered to on a long-term basis, and no effort shall be spared to develop Xinjiang into a region of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era that is united, harmonious, prosperous, and culturally advanced, with healthy ecosystems and people living and working in contentment. All of these provide a strong guarantee for long-term stability and people’s better life in Xinjiang. In the future, more and more stories of happiness will take place in Xinjiang and Afghan people will certainly be better for it.