Scholars and religious personnel in Xinjiang deplored US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent accusations and attacks against China's Xinjiang policy by signing a joint statement.
In the joint letter, the scholars and religious personnel from China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region refuted Pompeo's recent remarks about China, "including false accusations against the ethnic, religious and human rights situations in Xinjiang",are "irresponsible and erroneous remarks."
The letter was published on Friday on Tianshannet, the only major news website in Xinjiang in six languages including Chinese, Russian, Uygur, English, Kazakh and Turkish.
Pompeo once again pointed an accusing finger at China's policies in the Xinjiang during an international conference on religious freedom hosted by himself in Washington from Tuesday to Thursday,
Pompeo said China is "home to one of the worst human rights crises of our time," and described China's policies in the Xinjiang as "the stain of the century."
Sticking to the facts, the letter refuted Pompeo's remarks.
"For a period of time in the past, the rampant spread of extremism and frequent outbreak of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang had caused severe damages to the safety and property of people of all ethnic groups there," the letter wrote
"At the time, just like what happened after the 911 terrorist attacks in 2001 in Manhattan, New York, people in Xinjiang were living in stress and terror every day," the letter added.
The letter said in response to the strong calls of people of all ethnic groups for combating violent terrorist crimes, Xinjiang has combined crackdown on terrorism with preventive measures.
"…To address the problem at its source, vocational education and training centers have been established in accordance with the law to educate and rehabilitate law-breakers and those who have committed minor crimes, so as to eliminate the influence of terrorism and extremism on them and nip terrorist activities in the bud," it wrote.
The efforts have paid off. According to the letter, no violent terrorist attacks have occurred in the past three years. In 2018 alone, the number of tourists to Xinjiang exceeded 150 million, among which 2.4 million were inbound tourists. "Tourists from home and abroad speak highly of Xinjiang's economic and social achievements, saying that Xinjiang is not only beautiful but also safe and secure,' the letter said.
As Pompeo denounced China for its large-scale detentions in the western Xinjiang region, where he claimed that an estimated one million Muslim Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other minorities are held in internment camps.
The letter responded by saying his claim about the large-scale persecution camps is "incomprehensible."
"We have made multiple visits to several centers. We saw with our own eyes the trainees learning the country's common language and legal knowledge and taking various vocational training courses on skills," the letter wrote.
"Besides, they are served with rich dishes in clean and tidy canteens, living in dormitory quarters equipped with TV, air conditioning and shower facilities, and enjoying colorful cultural lives on the sport courts or in the libraries," the letter wrote.
The letter emphasized their personal freedom is fully guaranteed. Trainees can have home visits each week and also can ask for leave to attend to private affairs.
The letter said many of the trainees are aware of the true nature and harm of the extremist religious thoughts.
The letter also hit back Pompeo's "absurd" remarks such as butchering systematically the Uyghur culture and terminating Islamic beliefs.
"We urge the US to view the ethnic, religious and human rights situations in Xinjiang in an unbiased and objective way, immediately stop fabricating lies and slanders about Xinjiang, and immediately stop using Xinjiang-related issues to interfere in China's internal affairs," the scholars and religious personnel appealed, with signatures at the bottom of the letter.
China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said earlier on Friday that US Vice-President Mike Pence and Pompeo "had slandered the religious policy and the freedom of religious belief in China" at the US conference on religious freedom, according to Xinhua.
Geng said at a press briefing that the remarks of Pence and Pompeo on China were confusing the public and calling white black, adding that China has lodged solemn representations with the US side.
Geng demanded that the US should respect facts, discard prejudice, and stop intervening in China's internal affairs by using religious issues
He pointed out that Chinese people of all nationalities enjoy full freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law, and that the Chinese government protects its citizens' religious freedom and related rights.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government does not allow anyone to engage in illegal and criminal activities by using religious issues and resolutely opposes any country or any force interfering in China's internal affairs in the name of religious freedom, Geng said.
He urged the US side not to make false statements that were unfounded, deviating from facts and contrary to common sense.
"We urge the United States to respect facts, discard prejudice, correctly view the religious policies and religious freedom in China and stop intervening in China's internal affairs by using religious issues," Geng said.