TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平) said levels of happiness among all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are rising and that China intends to keep teaching its residents a “correct” outlook on China, according to state-run news agency Xinhua on Saturday (Sept. 26).
China has been criticized by the international community over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang, where the United Nations cites reports that over one million Muslims held in internment camps have been put to work, Reuters reported. Beijing has denied the mistreatment of Uyghurs, calling the camps vocational training centers that are needed to fight extremism.
“The sense of gain, happiness, and security among the people of all ethnic groups has continued to increase,” Xi said at a Communist Party conference on Xinjiang held on Friday and Saturday, according to Xinhua. The Chinese leader said it was necessary to educate Uyghurs on an understanding of the Chinese nation and steer “all ethnic groups on establishing a correct perspective on the country, history, and nationality.”
“Practice has shown that the party’s strategy for governing Xinjiang in the new era is completely correct” and should be applied long-term, Xi added, according to Reuters.
Last Thursday (Sept. 24), the Australian Strategy Policy Institute (ASPI) released a report that an estimated 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang had been damaged or destroyed since 2017. To make their estimates, the ASPI found the precise coordinates of more than 900 religious sites in Xinjiang dated before 2017, including 533 mosques and 382 shrines and other holy sites.
These images were then compared to recent satellite photos and cross-referenced with census data to come up with “statistically robust estimates.” China’s foreign ministry has denied the claims made by the ASPI report, saying there are over 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang — “more mosques per capita than many Muslim countries,” according to Reuters.