URUMQI (TCA) — Diplomatic envoys from 12 countries — Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Thailand, and Kuwait — visited China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the last days of December at the invitation of the regional government to witness the social and economic progress in this northwestern region, China’s Xinhua news agency reported on January 8.
The diplomats visited local markets, farms, educational institutions, mosques, factories, as well as vocational education and training centers.
Throughout the trip, they interacted with local vendors, students, and workers in Xinjiang and learned about the region's progress in maintaining social stability, improving people's livelihood and developing local economy, Xinhua reported. They said they expected to cooperate with China's Xinjiang in the fields of culture, tourism, economy and trade.
In Kashgar, the diplomatic envoys also visited a local economic development zone.
The diplomatic envoys also visited Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, the largest mosque in Xinjiang, and were briefed on the mosque and its facility improvements.
During the visit to a vocational training center in Hotan, Manarbek Kabaziyev, Counselor of the Kazakhstan Embassy in China, said that students master vocational skills here through training and make a living with these skills later in their life, which shows that the Chinese government truly cares about these trainees.
The envoys also visited a clothing factory in Hotan, where villagers who have received training work on the assembly lines. According to the factory owner, they receive a monthly salary of more than 3,000 yuan (438 US dollars).
This comes amid reports in western media saying that Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have launched a massive indoctrination and detention campaign, sending hundreds of thousands and possibly more than 1 million people into internment camps that Beijing describes as "reeducation" centers.
Former detainees have said they were forced to renounce their culture and religious beliefs and were subjected to political indoctrination, RFE/RL reported.
The detention of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other ethnic minorities at the camps has been a sensitive subject in neighboring Kazakhstan, a mostly Muslim country of 18 million people.
China is a major trading partner for Astana, and Kazakhstan's state-controlled media has generally avoided reporting about the internment camps.
But pressure for action has increased following international media coverage of the issue.