Beijing wants to stomp down on terrorism.

Wang Yang, the fourth-ranked leader in the People’s Republic of China’s governing communist party leadership, opined that Xinjiang must “perfect” its stability maintenance measures on religious extremism. The provincial government must also crack down on so-called Islamists in a region where Beijing is spearheading a controversy-attracting deradicalization program. Yang said in his statement during his five-day visit to Xinjiang that the situation in the region continues to develop satisfactorily. The top-ranked government functionary visited from March 20 to March 25 and included a tour of Tumxuk and Kashgar in his itinerary. The areas he visited were Uighur dominated regions.

Critics have strong words for Beijing’s policies enforced in the region. They point out that the Chinese government is presently operating multiple internment camps where many of the local Muslim population, including Uighurs were forcefully locked up. The government, however, brands the internment camps as vocational training centers. As per Beijing, such centers are needed to curb violence and radical thinking. The government follows a distinct opaque policy when it comes to releasing any data about the number of people housed in these camps. According to Adrian Zenz, the Xinjiang centers may collectively hold 1.5 million Chinese following Islam and the Uighur ethnic community. Zenz is a known authority on Chinese ethnic policies. He is one of the foremost independent researchers on the subject.

Wang said high pressure must continue on terrorism, separatism, and extremism, describing them as the “three forces.” He recommended that the local government functionaries must tune their stability maintenance measures on this context. He urged the correct implementation of ruling party policies on the country’s ethnic minorities and resolutely opposed and mete out heavy punishment for all ethnic separatist forces. He said religious extremist thinking should be stamped out but simultaneously make sure the standard religious requirements of believers be allowed to permit within the parameters of existing laws. Wang leads a prominent advisory body catering to members of China’s parliament members. His report has no words on the deradicalization centers.

China has now stepped up to counter increasing criticism from Western countries and from rights groups concerning the programmes it operates in the Muslim dominated Xinjiang province. It has instituted tightly controlled chaperoned tours inviting several foreign diplomats and members of prominent media houses to join such excursions.

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