Foreign scholars applaud China's anti-terror efforts

Many foreign scholars who visited the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region said the efforts made by the local government in combating and preventing terrorism are effective, and could be learned by other countries.

They positively viewed the local measures taken to deal with these challenges, and called for further international cooperation in counterterrorism and de-radicalization.

From Wednesday to Friday, more than 60 scholars from the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Council of the United Nations and 17 countries including Serbia, Sri Lanka, France, Indonesia and Italy attended the International Seminar on Counterterrorism, De-radicalization and Human Rights Protection, which was organized by the China Society for Human Rights Studies, in Urumqi, the regional capital.

The scholars visited an exhibition about major cases of terrorism in Xinjiang and went to the Xinjiang Islamic Institute. They also visited the Kashgar vocational education and training center.

Xinjiang is a key battlefield in the fight against terrorism and extremism in China. Terrorism, separatism and extremism have gravely damaged the stability, solidarity and progress of Xinjiang for a long time, and the basic human rights of the people in the region to life, health, property and development had been trampled.

"Some countries have criticized China's policies against terrorism in Xinjiang. Let us ask what America would do if hundreds of Americans died in terrorist attacks?" asked Predrag Markovic, director of the Institute for Contemporary History, Serbia.

He said the training center offers an opportunity for those young people who were affected by terrorism and extremism to start a new life. "I believe it is a much better solution than repression only. It is not the whole process, but it's a good beginning."

Jayanath Siri Kumara Colombage, director of the center for Indo-Lanka Initiatives of the Pathfinder Foundation, said what the Chinese government is doing has proved effective.

He communicated with young people in the training center and learned that they were misled by the wrong people. "The young people have repented of the past. These are good signs," he said.

Colombage said his home country of Sri Lanka has been troubled by terrorism for decades. "I know how these people are radicalized, and I think this is a great program," he said.

Addressing both the symptoms and root causes, Xinjiang has established vocational education and training centers in accordance with the law to prevent the breeding and spread of terrorism and religious extremism, effectively curbing the frequent terrorist incidents, according to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office in August.

However, Xinjiang's anti-terrorism efforts were still attacked by some Western media.

"What we hear from the Western media and what is really happening on the ground are totally two different things," Colombage said.

"You are not hiding anything, you told us to ask any question, and we asked very difficult questions," he said.

Abdul Wahid Wahid, a senior adviser to the Minister of Haj and Religious Affairs of Afghanistan, said Xinjiang's experience is effective in eradicating extremism and terrorism, and he wants to learn more about it.

"I've heard a lot about the education center. Western media somehow said that is a 'torture center'. Now that I saw the center, and that it's really an education center, I wish we had established such centers in Afghanistan many years ago," he said.

Matteo Bressan, a professor of International Relations and Strategic Studies at Lumsa University (Rome), said he believes that education is a way to help fight the global phenomenon of extremism and radicalism.

"We should respect the Chinese approach to these issues and challenges," he said.

Shu Hongshui, vice-president of the Anti-terrorism Law School, Northwest University of Political Science and Law in Xi'an of Shaanxi province, said terrorism and extremism are global problems, and China is offering its solution to the world.

He noted that China has been actively participating in international counterterrorism and anti-extremism programs and China has joined a number of international conventions in this regard.