V. Giving Top Priority to a Preventive Counterterrorism Approach
Terrorism and extremism jeopardize human rights and sustainable development as they propagate intolerance between different religions, cultures and societies, challenge human justice and dignity, and do great harm to peace and security. Fighting terrorism and extremism is a common issue and arduous task faced by the entire world. For years, many countries and regions have been actively exploring concrete approaches and measures for combating and preventing terrorism and extremism that accord with their own conditions.
Based on experience learned from the international community, Chinahas been active in implementing the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly concerning the United Nations Global Counterterrorism Strategy (60/288), and has been working hard to wipe out the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and to prevent and combat terrorism. Based on its own conditions, Xinjiang has been making intensive counterterrorism and de-radicalization efforts. Upholding the principle of fighting and preventing terrorism at the same time, the autonomous region has been taking aggressive action against violent terrorist crimes, and at the same time, addressing the problem at its source. It has been making every effort to protect the fundamental human rights of citizens from violation by terrorism and extremism. Specific measures include improving public wellbeing, promoting knowledge of the law through education, and offering education and aid through vocational education and training centers in accordance with the law.
Making great efforts to ensure and improve public wellbeing. Public wellbeing is vital to people's happiness and to social harmony and stability. In the past, some areas in Xinjiang suffered from terrorism, and religious extremism infiltrated people's work and daily life, causing great damage and posing a threat to social stability, economic development, and security. In recent years, following a people-centered approach to development, Xinjiang has focused on ensuring and improving people's standard of living and implementing projects that benefit the public in employment, education, medical care, social security, and other fields. These include:
• implementing the plan of transfer employment for 100,000 laborers in southern Xinjiang in three years (2018-2020) and having realized the transfer employment of 75,000 people from families suffering extreme poverty;
• adding a total of 1.4008 million new urban jobs and transferring 8.305 million surplus rural laborers for employment in Xinjiang from 2016 to 2018 through developing labor-intensive industries, organized transfer for employment, and creating jobs through business startups;
• popularizing nine-year compulsory education and providing free three-year preschool education in urban and rural areas in southern Xinjiang;
• offering free universal health check-up; ensuring full coverage of serious illness insurance, and ensuring full coverage of centralized treatment of 15 serious illnesses and contracted services for chronic illnesses for the poverty-stricken rural population;
• improving the social security system, and ensuring that the standard of subsistence allowance for impoverished urban and rural residents is raised continuously.
As people's standard of living improves, the public will provide greater support to the government's counterterrorism, de-radicalization and stability-maintaining effort.
Popularizing understanding of the law and strengthening the sense of the rule of law. Rural residents in Xinjiang have a relatively weak sense of the rule of law, lack understanding of the law, and are vulnerable to instigation and intimidation by terrorist and extremist forces, resulting in criminal behavior. Attaching great importance to popularizing understanding of the law, Xinjiang has issued a series of legal documents, including Regulations of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Promoting Publicity and Education on the Law, Opinions on Developing Bases for Youth Education and Practice on the Rule of Law in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Opinions on Implementing the Guideline on Adopting a Responsibility System for State Organs with the Principle that Law-Enforcing Departments Are Responsible for Publicizing the Law.
Focusing on the overall goal of long-term social stability, Xinjiang has carried out various forms of publicity activities on the rule of law, including “Year of Community-level Promotion of Rule of Law”, “Month of Publicizing the Constitution and Other Laws”, “Day of Universal Education on State Security”, “Promotion of Rule of Law in Communities”, “Teaching Rule of Law under the National Flag”, and “Strengthening Public Legal Awareness at Bazaars”, so as to help people of various ethnic groups to distinguish between legal and illegal conducts and improve citizens' abilities to consciously resist the infiltration of religious extremism. These activities are designed to influence the general public, including young people, with a goal of promoting the concept of rule of law, cultivating a belief in rule of law, and advancing the practice of rule of law. They focus on raising people's awareness about the rule of law and development of institution. They use traditional media and internet as platforms and are supported by the establishment and improvementof a community-level public service network for promoting the rule oflaw.
Actively providing help and aid through education. Education and training centers have been established with the goal of educating and rehabilitating people guilty of minor crimes or law-breaking and eradicating the influence of terrorism and extremism, in order to prevent them from falling victim to terrorism and extremism, and to nip terrorist activities in the bud.
At present, the trainees at the centers fall into three categories:
1. People who were incited, coerced or induced into participating in terrorist or extremist activities, or people who participated in terrorist or extremist activities in circumstances that were not serious enough to constitute a crime;
2. People who were incited, coerced or induced into participating in terrorist or extremist activities, or people who participated in terrorist or extremist activities that posed a real danger but did not cause actual harm, whose subjective culpability was not deep, who made confessions of their crimes and were contrite about their past actions and thus can be exempted from punishment in accordance with the law, and who have demonstrated the willingness to receive training;
3. People who were convicted and received prison sentence for terrorist or extremist crimes and after serving their sentences, have been assessed as still posing potential threats to society, and who have been ordered by people's courts to receive education at the centers in accordance with the law.
In accordance with Articles 29 and 30 of the Counterterrorism Law of the People's Republic of China, people in the first and third categories will be placed at the centers to receive support and education. With regard to people in the second category, a small number of them should be punished severely, while the majority should be rehabilitated in accordance with the policy of striking a balance between punishment and compassion. Confession, repentance, and willingness to receive training are preconditions for leniency, and these people will receive education to help reform their ways after they have been exempted from penalty in accordance with the law.
Education and training centers are institutions established in accordance with the law. They have clear goals and methods of training, criteria for program completion, and methods of assessment, which are stated in the agreements they signed with trainees. When trainees meet the standards of assessment, they will be presented with completion certificates. The centers' curricula consist of standard spoken and written Chinese language, law, vocational skills, and courses on the eradication of extremism. They are staffed by quality teachers and senior vocational trainers. They formulate teaching plans, compile and print teaching materials, and develop teaching systems in a unified manner. They offer tailored and even individualized education to different types of trainees. Teaching and studying at the centers have been standardized. A step-by-step approach has been adopted in the process of study and training, which begins with learning standard spoken and written Chinese language, then moves on to studying the law, and concludes with learning vocational skills.
In view of the fact that some trainees have been influenced by religious extremism, have not received good education, are weak in the use of standard spoken and written Chinese language, slow in acquiring modern knowledge, and have poor communication skills, the centers fully ensure citizens' constitutional right to learn and use standard Chinese language and provide conditions for them to learn. Through education and training, the trainees have improved their competence in the use of standard Chinese language and broadened their channels to acquire modern knowledge and information. They have realized that only by mastering standard Chinese language can they better adapt to contemporary society.
In view of the fact that the trainees have a weak awareness of rule of law, the centers regard an understanding of the law as a key link in helping the trainees to increase their sense of state, citizenship, and rule of law. They have invited judges, public procurators, and lawyers to give lectures on laws and regulations such as the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China, General Provisions of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China, Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China, Education Law of the People's Republic of China, Counterterrorism Law of the People's Republic of China, Public Security Administration Punishment Law of the People's Republic of China, and Regulations of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on De-radicalization. Many trainees were influenced by religious extremism and their conducts closely followed the “religious law” and “domestic discipline” concocted by terrorists and extremists. They defied the law of the state, and even interfered with and sabotaged the implementation of state law. Through study, the trainees have realized that as citizens they have an obligation to abide by the Constitution and laws of the state and they should conduct themselves in accordance with the rights and obligations endowed to them by the Constitution and laws.
In view of the fact that some trainees lack vocational skills and have difficulties finding employment, the centers regard learning vocational skills as an important way to enhance trainees' ability to find work. Based on local demand and employment conditions, they set up training programs in the making of garments, footwear and hats, food processing, assembly of electronic products, typesetting and printing, cosmetology and hairdressing, e-business, and other courses. To those who have the will to learn multiple skills and meet the relevant qualifications, they provide such training as to ensure that the trainees can master one or two vocational skills upon completing their study at the centers. The centers attach importance to the integration of study and practice, and have elevated trainees' practical abilities. Through training, trainees have gained rudimentary vocational skills, and some of them have completed their study at the centers and found jobs.
In view of the fact that trainees have been influenced by religious extremism to various degrees, the centers integrate de-radicalization into the whole process of education and training. Through progressive study of laws and regulations, policies on ethnic and religious affairs, and religious knowledge, and through unveiling the hazards of terrorism and extremism, trainees have realized that religious extremism is totally against religious doctrines and constitutes the ideological base of ethnic separatism and violent terrorism. They gain a thorough understanding of the very nature and perils of terrorism and extremism, and free themselves from the influence and control of ideological terrorism and extremism.
The centers adopt a boarding school management system, and are staffed with instructors, doctors and personnel for logistic services and management to provide trainees with a normal study and life routine. Trainees can have home visits on a regular basis and can ask for leave to attend to private affairs. The centers are equipped with indoor and outdoor sports and cultural facilities and regularly hold such activities. The centers fully respect and protect the customs and habits of trainees of different ethnic groups, care for their mental health, offer psychological counseling services, and help them solve real-life problems. In accordance with the law, the centers adopt a policy of separating education and religion. Trainees may not organize and participate in religious activities at the centers.
Thanks to these preventive measures, Xinjiang has witnessed a marked change in the social environment in recent years. A healthy atmosphere is spreading, while evil influences are declining. The citizens' legal awareness has been notably enhanced. The trend in society is now to pursue knowledge of modern science and technology and a cultured way of life. Citizens now consciously resist religious extremism. The ethnic groups of Xinjiang now enjoy closer relations through communication, exchange and blending. People have a much stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security.