Residents make rose jam in a village in Hotan, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, in June. [Photo/Xinhua]
This was not my first trip to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, but it was the most impressive one. From Wednesday to Friday, I was with a group of scholars from 17 countries and the Advisory Committee of the United Nations Human Rights Council, who were invited to attend an international seminar on counterterrorism in Urumqi, the regional capital.
On Wednesday, for the first time, I watched an exhibition about major cases of terrorism in Xinjiang and visited the Xinjiang Islamic Institute.
I was shocked by the lunatic terrorist activities that happened to people, of which the bloody pictures still linger in my mind. Innocent people, the youngest aged five, were killed by the coldblooded terrorists. I don't think people with any human nature would do that.
Thanks to the joint efforts, Xinjiang has remained stable for the past few years and recovered from the threat of terrorism. People from all ethnic groups here work and live in harmony. People's religious freedom has been fully protected and a large number of Muslims are studying in the new Islamic institute.
Xinjiang is the pearl of Northwest China, where I longed to visit for many years. Many people in other parts of the country are also lured by its wonderful natural attractions, friendly people and splendid multiethnic culture. It should never be overshadowed by extremism and terrorism.
On Thursday, we visited the Kashgar vocational education and training center, as well as the night market and Kashgar old town.
When we were there, tens of thousands of visitors from all across the country were also visiting the old town, with local people dancing and singing to welcome the guests, and stores displaying local handicrafts.
That is what's happening in Xinjiang－a stable and prosperous society. Many scholars in the visiting group that I interviewed said they found Xinjiang totally different from what some Western media had portrayed.
At the training center, which has been slandered by some Western media in various ways, many scholars praised the government's efforts to give opportunities to these young people who had been affected by terrorism and extremism to restart their life.
Predrag Markovic, director of the Institute of Contemporary History of Serbia, whose country once suffered from terrorism, said: "I regret deeply that we didn't have Chinese wisdom 30 years ago. We put radicalized young people in jails, it only made them worse."
Many of the young people studying in the center are only around 20 years old. They still have another 50, 60 or 70 years of life. They need some vocational skills to find a decent job to support their families and create bright futures, rather than sitting at home, doing nothing and counting on their parents.
I think what Xinjiang is doing now is not only to combat terrorism and extremism, but also to support the all-around development of the society and these young people.