Exploring core zones of BRI in Xinjiang

Makhdoom Babar Pakistan, Najeeb Asif Afghanstan, Geeta Mohan Indai and AK Moinudin from Bangladesh at Kanas.


For the past few years, China’s one of the most beautiful, scenic , lively, peaceful and attractive province, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was getting unprecedented attention from the Western Media. However the reason being the centre of attention of Xinjiang was not its being peaceful, naturally beautiful etc but the Western Media was focusing on or rather creating a so-called unrest in this little paradise on earth by spreading the rumours that Muslims of Xinjiang were being subjected to worst treatment by Chinese government.
However, this baseless propaganda by Western Media got a severe setback when China’s Human Rights Bureau of the Publicity Department of CPC, State Council Information Office and Information Department of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region got together of host top media persons from around 15 countries of the world to expose real state of affairs in Xinjiang through a themed media tour, titled “ Approaching the Core Zones of Belt and Road Initiative (Xinjiang)”, recently. This media tour where provided a lot of insight about Xinjiang to the visiting journalists, right there it also solved the mystery as to why was majority of Western Media running motivated media campaigns about non existing religious unrest in this part of the world. As the visiting media persons started to learn about the potential of Xinjiang and its mega importance in the Belt and Road Initiative, they easily understood as to why such baseless media campaigns regarding Xinjiang were constantly emitting from the Western World. Obviously to dent BRI by creating misperception in and about Xinjiang.
Situated in the far north west of China, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region covers an area of 1.66 million square kilometers. This is the biggest administrative division of China in terms of land mass. In the near past, the western region, which now comprises Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was less developed as compared to the Eastern Region.
Xinjiang borders eight countries from northeast to Southwest, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India with the longest borderline in the country. Since ancient times, Xinjiang has been an important corridor of exchange and communication, through which people of multi ethnicity travelled, interacted and exchanged cultures. Xinjiang is home to multiethnic groups and abounds in cultural resources. 23 million people hail from 55 ethnic groups, 13 of which are native ones.
For thousands of years people of various ethnic groups have created a remarkable civilization and left numerous heritages. Diverse religions including Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Taoism are practiced side by side here. Xinjiang is making full use of its geographical and cultural advantages, is further opening up and making efforts to act as main force and vanguard in building Silk Road Economic Belt. Xinjiang is destined to become a traffic hub, a commercial logistics centre, a financial centre, a cultural, scientific and educational centre, and a medical service centre in region on the first leg of the media tour that was participated by around 15 foreign journalists and some 22 Chinese media persons, the group was taken to Urumqi Dry Port from where China operates freight trains for Europe and so begins the process of connectivity.
“Nearly 1400 cargo trains departed from Urumqi to European destinations since the introduction of this service back in 2016,” Deputy Manager of China-Europe Cargo Train Realignment Centre Nan Jun said, while briefing the visiting media persons He said that this service that connected European countries and 42 cities helped reduce cost and time benefiting all those connected with the service. “We’re trying to improve the efficiency of the cargo train service to further cut the cost and time making the service smoother,” Nan Jun said. A study commissioned by the International Union of Railways estimates that China-Europe rail service could double their share of trade by volume over the next decade. Barely a decade ago, officials said, regular direct freight service from China to Europe did not exist but today they can connect some 35 Chinese cities with 34 European ones.
The media delegation was then briefed about the role Xinjiang was playing in the IT sector. A visit to Xinjiang Software Park revealed that not only Xinjiang was set to become the IT icon of China but the Xinjiang government was planning a lot for the safety, medical health and welfare of its citizens through advancement in IT and by launching multifaceted apps and other project in coming years. This It-based projects were set to provided state of the art Health, security and social facilities to the people of Xinjiang.
The media persons were then taken to a vicinity of Qidaowan District of Urumqi where Uyghur Muslims and Muslims of other ethnicities were residing in an extraordinary atmosphere with all civic facilities available to them. a comprehensive interaction with these Muslim residents clearly negated the propaganda with regards to miseries of Muslims. They were found free, relaxed, enjoying music and have complete religious freedom with a pride of being part of a great nation. The media event was organized in a manner that the visit ors could appreciate the various aspects involved in making BRI a success. The rich culture of the western region was put on display through musical and dance training institutions as well as the grand theatre in Urumqi.
In the 2nd leg, the journalists were taken to Altai Prefecture. The Altai or Altay region is located in the northern part of Xinjiang, bordering with Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia with an area of 118,000 kilometers, having six counties and one main city. it is the only region of northwest China that borders with Russia and a very important node city in the Northern Corridor of BRI and in construction of China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor.
From Altay, delegates were driven to Burqin County while on the way a short trip to a huge agricultural facility, a base in the Gobi desert was also arranged where the process of growing Gaubau Kender plants was going on for years. The delegates were amazed to this agricultural farming in the middle of the Gobi Deserts through deep-dug wells. it took 10 years to develop into the base on Gaubau Kender ecological industry.
A brief visit to Fa Tin Textile & Fashion company and Altay tea Company was also arranged where the media was briefed by company Director Ms. Zoe Siu Yu Lau about the contribution of the company for the human development and social welfare.
At Burqin county visits to largest forest of Popular trees and farms of Honey Melons were arranged while a special cultural show was also arranged to depict the cultural and social history of this part of China. And from Burqin, the journey to the little Paradise on earth started, a four-hour drive to Kanas lake, on a road, described as Highway to Heaven by many of the delegation members. The area features golden signs of clean air, clean land and clean water.
The air quality throughout the year remains at national level standard 1 and is known as “ Natural Oxygen Bar”. The soil is of excellent quality, unpolluted and organic. It is one of the six forest regions of China and largest natural forest region of Xinjiang. but above all, it is really a tourists’ paradise enjoying natural beauty, much more than that of Switzerland with all the modern facilities, available throughout the year. it has a number of mesmerizing scenic spots, mainly along with Kanas River and the Kanas Lake is the ultimate spot.
At the end of the trip, Vice Director of the Information Office of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Ailit Shaliyefu held a detailed breifing for the visiting journalists. He said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, was not only for the development of China but it is also an answer for the common destination of human being through stronger partnership and broader connectivity among countries along the Belt and Road.
“We’ve made a lot of achievements. Terrorism, separatist and religious extremist ideas, these aren’t only the problems of China but these are also the common problems all over the world,” he added. He further stated that aid China was making the best use of Xinjiang’s geographic advantages and its role as a window of westward opening-up to deepen communication and cooperation with Central, South and West Asian countries.
He stated that most of the information China’s foreign friends hear about Xinjiang were simply “misleading or false, even biased ones.” “You’ve visited here; you saw what’s really happening here. You can continuously pay attention what’s happening here to have an objective understanding of Xinxiang”, he added. To a question by the media representatives, Ailit said there was a firm belief in China that other common problems of countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt, component of the Belt and Road Initiative, would be resolved by not a single country alone but by all the BRI Member States through joint and synchronized efforts. He hoped that more international cities and cosmopolitans along this belt and road will prosper just because of connections and connectivity.
Ailit further stated that awareness campaign and education for better understanding over religion were going on in every educational institution to help young people have better and deep understanding so that they are not misled or cheated. “It’s important to have the correct understanding of religion and history.” he said that The about 200 billion Yuan were invested in Xingjian in 2017 which was much more than other places in China. At the end of current year, he said, the first line of the six-lane 100-km subway will be opened to public which covers 20 km inside the Urumqi city. He informed the journalists that from January to July this year, some 75 million tourists visited Xinxiang and by the end of this year, the Chinese Tourism Bureau, was expecting to receive more than 100 million tourists. he said that development of tourism requires stability of society and Xingjian can attract more and more tourists just because of that stability.
“I believe some of the journalists from countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt may have better understanding about great changes in their countries. We also have witnessed great changes in this area. However, some media may not be very happy about this initiative,” he said.