Closer Look: A Comprehensive Strategy Is Required to Fight Terrorism
(Beijing) – In face of several deadly attacks that originated in the western Xinjiang region, the central government has geared up efforts to tackle the complex problems there. In late May, state leaders met to discuss the principles and policies regarding the governance of Xinjiang.
In the long run, the Xinjiang issue is about national unity. In dealing with such issues, the crucial aspect is the rule of law, which is at the forefront of the spirit of the constitution.
The ethnic issue is an old problem, but multi-ethnic groups peacefully coexisting in a country is a modern phenomenon. With so many groups living in China's broad territory, seeking to create unified cultural, religious, language and lifestyle habits is impossible and unnecessary. This is especially true in Xinjiang, which accounts for about one-sixth of the country's territory.
The formation and development of a modern multi-ethnic state can be seen as a process that deepens and maintains a political community. China is no exception. Different ethnic groups draft and recognize the same constitution based on sharing political ideas and experiences. They form a political community and the consciousness of the nation and citizen. True national unity can only be achieved by consolidating this consciousness.
Therefore, the governance of Xinjiang requires consistent efforts to fight separatism, but a more important issue is enhancing the enforcement of the constitution and laws. Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping recently emphasized that solidifying the national consciousness, national unity and the joint effort of all ethnic groups will be required to contribute to the Chinese Dream and to share equally in the country's prosperity.
Xi said Xinjiang should be governed by the rule of law, stabilized and engaged in long-term development. The commitment to follow the rule of law and spirit of the constitution is a necessary weapon in the fight against the separatism and in solving other problems in the region.
In addition to political aspects, national unity is also linked to economic, social and cultural issues, such as the coexistence of diverse cultures, proper social policies, and equal economic opportunities. Thus, national unity will be determined by an equal and balanced social system, lifestyles and economic development, which in turn will be backed by China's continuous efforts to improve governance. As Xi said in a recent meeting: "The stabilization of Xinjiang should be led by modernizing governance capacity and based on improved economic development and living standards."
The task is clear, but it is also big.
One of the most urgent issues to tackle in Xinjiang is employment. Premier Li Keqiang recently urged businesses in the region to better absorb the local labor force. He also called on local authorities to attract more domestic companies to move into and invest in the region, and encouraged residents to seek jobs outside the region. The central government promised to offer supportive and preferential policies. Li also urged that education be improved, which will be fundamentally important to increasing employment and improving living standards. If all of these measures can be implemented, national unity will be enhanced.
One of the highlights of the recent meetings regarding Xinjiang was the attention paid to the region's specialties, especially religious issues. Xi made it clear that the basic principle for handling religious issues is to better protect legal religious groups, while curbing criminal activities. He urged that the interests of religious groups be protected according to the law and that cultural habits be respected, all while broadening people's legal accesses to religious knowledge. These requirements target all officials, who should better understand the importance of religious freedom to the people of Xinjiang. The idea that the region's problems can be solved by solely relying on economic development is harmful.
The strategy for fighting terrorism is clear. Xi said the crackdown on terrorism is a focus of the government, and should be handled in cooperation with international anti-terrorism efforts.
The effort is a government responsibility that also requires public support. A balance should be sought between the secrecy needed for anti-terror efforts and the public's right to know. The government should be aware of the social costs of maintaining stability and work to protect the legal rights of the people of Xinjiang after any incident.
A successful war against terror requires proactive and accurate deployment of forces to crack down on the leadership of terrorists. It also relies on international cooperation, especially in information exchange and cross-border action. After the September 11 attacks, former U.S. president George W. Bush told the world: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Such confidence came from the United States' status as a superpower, but it also indicated that violent attacks on the public have no political excuse and should be isolated. China should also make its voice heard in the international community.
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