Xi Jinping seeks unity in rare visit to Xinjiang
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Xinjiang this week, making his first trip in eight years to the once-restive northwestern frontier region where the US has accused China of genocide against the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority.
From Tuesday to Friday, Xi visited sites in Xinjiang including a cotton plantation, a trade zone and a museum, state broadcaster CCTV reported in a 34-minute evening newscast on Friday after Xi had left Xinjiang. The US bans cotton imports from Xinjiang over concerns about the use of forced labour.
China has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uyghurs. A photo by the official Xinhua news agency showed a maskless Xi surrounded by smiling and clapping residents, many of them appearing to be Uyghurs wearing ethnic costumes and Muslim prayer caps. Xi urged Xinjiang officials to listen to the people so as to win their hearts and keep them united. He also stressed that security measures aimed at maintaining social stability should become regular.
CCTV also cited Xi as saying Islamic practices must conform to Chinese sensibilities and that Xinjiang must groom a team of “politically reliable” religious representatives. Xinjiang had been the scene of sporadic anti-government and anti-Han Chinese violence before a crackdown that the UN said in 2018 had put one million Uyghurs into “massive internment camps” set up for political indoctrination.
China initially denied the existence of any camps, then said it had set up “vocational training centres” with dormitories where people can “voluntarily” check themselves in to learn about the law, Chinese language and vocational skills. It said that in 2019 all trainees had “graduated”. Xinjiang has not reported any attacks since the establishment of the centres.