Communist China described the establishment of internment camps used to torture, harass, and imprison as many as a million members of its Muslim minority as a “solution to promote world peace” during a recent international religious conference, the state-run Global Times reported this week.
After months of silence and denying the existence of the internment camps, also known as re-education centers, Beijing has launched a campaign fiercely defending the facilities, arguing that they are pleasant vocational centers that provide skills training and psychological counseling to help combat terrorism, religious extremism, and separatism in Muslim-majority Xinjiang, the country’s largest province.
On Wednesday, the Global Times published a scathing editorial criticizing Western governments for undermining China’s “righteous” governance in Xinjiang, adding:
Since the [so-called] vocational training centers were set up, the situation in Xinjiang has changed for the better. They may not operate flawlessly, but aim to stop impetuous killings and comfort people frightened by violent terrorist activities. These are the core of human rights.
What do those Westerners who denounce governance in Xinjiang want? They seem to show a tolerant attitude toward people who are brainwashed by extremism and commit acts that damage peace and order in Xinjiang.
During the October 10 religious conference in Kazakhstan — dubbed the Sixth Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions — representatives of Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism from 46 countries discussed how religion could help promote world peace and security.
The Chinese representatives — a 15-member delegation representing Taoism, Buddhism, and Islam — played a starring role, highlighting Beijing’s “religious policy and how it contributes to security and stability,” Global Times pointed out on Thursday.
Beijing “guarantees voices from religious circles are heard and responded to in the process of social governance,” the Chinese state news outlet claimed.
Global Times indicated that Beijing hoped to use the conference to export its “Oriental wisdom” on the treatment of Muslims to the world.
“There are no major conflicts among China’s religions and this is a very rare situation in the world. China’s practice and experience are expected to be shared on the world stage, because the country has walked a path that guaranteed harmonious co-existence among diverse religions,” Jin Rubin, deputy chairman of the Islamic Association of China, argued on the sidelines of the religious conference, the Global Times reported.
Shohrat Zakir, the chairman of Xinjiang’s local government, recently justified the establishment of re-education camps, saying they are merely vocational centers.
The state-owned Xinhua news agency reported this week that Zakir, echoing other officials loyal to Bejing, “described the vocational centers as resort-like facilities equipped with volleyball courts, ping-pong tables and film-screening rooms, where ethnic customs are respected, nutritious meals are provided ‘free of charge’ and each air-conditioned room comes with its own TV.”
However, the U.S. State Department has found that China is subjecting faith-adherents, including Christians, to “transformation through re-education” inside camps where authorities force them to listen to propaganda, all intended to ensure the worshippers remain loyal to the Communist Party.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has condemned the internment camp for Muslims.
Citing an anonymous representative from the Muslim community in Russia who attended the conference, Global Times urged Trump on Thursday to “show more restraint and respect in making comments or decisions on complex religious issues.”