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The 14th Press Conference on Xinjiang Related Issues
2020/10/25
 

The 14th Press Conference on Xinjiang Related Issues

-- Special Press Conference on Labor and Employment Issues in Xinjiang

On October 16, 2020, the Information Office of the People's Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region held the 14th press conference on Xinjiang related issues, i.e. a special press conference on the labor and employment issues in Xinjiang. The press conference invited the Spokesperson of the Information Office of the People's Government of XUAR Zulyat Ismail, the Director of the Department of Human Resources and Social Security of XUAR Rehmanjan Dawut, the Deputy Director of the Department of Commerce of XUAR Askhal Tursun, to give a briefing and answer questions from the press.

photo taken on October 16, 2020 shows the press conference.

Host of press conference: Deputy Head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Xinjiang Committee Xu Guixiang

Xu Guixiang: Dear friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to the press conference on Xinjiang related issues. Today, we invite the Spokesperson of the Information Office of the People's Government of XUAR Zulyat Ismail, the Director of the Department of Human Resources and Social Security of XUAR Rehmanjan Dawut, the Deputy Director of the Department of Commerce of XUAR Askhal Tursun, to give a briefing and answer your questions. In addition, it is our pleasure to have 3 foreign media reporters to be present, who will interact with us through video connections.

We apologize for the delay of the press conference due to equipment debugging.

Now, please raise your hands to ask questions.

Reporters from foreign press take part in the press conference via video connections.

Reuters: I have 3 questions. First, according to the white paper Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang, every year from 2014 to 2019 Xinjiang provided training sessions to an average of 1.288 million urban and rural workers. How many of these people graduated from vocational education and training centers?

Second, the government of Xinjiang declared that trainees in vocational education and training centers have graduated. What percentage of the graduated trainees still need legal and political education? Will they be re-educated in the education and training centers or elsewhere? As all the trainees have graduated, what is Xinjiang's general strategy for cracking down on the three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism?

And the last one is that, does the Xinjiang government set annual target on the number of laborers to be employed in places away from their hometowns? Do the laborers concerned have the right to refuse?

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your question, the reporter from the Reuters. The first and third questions you mentioned are all about labor, we would like to first ask the Director of the Department of Human Resources and Social Security of XUAR Rehmanjan Dawut to answer them.

Rehmanjan Dawut: The first question, you mentioned that from 2014 to 2019, every year Xinjiang provided training sessions to an average of 1.29 million urban and rural workers. It refers to vocational training including raising the basic quality of trainees, vocational qualifications, skill level certificates, specialized skill certificates and pre-job training in employment. The aim is to improve workers' vocational skills and entrepreneurial ability. Vocational training is provided by vocational colleges (including technical institutes) and enterprises(including employee training centers), targeting jobless laborers including surplus rural labor, workers from poor households, the urban unemployed, veterans, and unemployed college graduates. Thanks to the training, the trainees mastered at least one skill with employment potential, and the vast majority of them obtained vocational qualifications, skill level certificates, or specialized skill certificates, allowing them to go on to find stable employment.

Vocational education and training centers are tailored for people influenced by religious extremism and involved in minor violations of the law. To remove terrorism and extremism from the root, these centers deliver a curriculum that includes standard spoken and written Chinese, understanding of the law, vocational skills, and deradicalization. Through education and training, trainees' comprehensive quality have been improved with national, civic and legal awareness strengthened. Gaining a thorough understanding of the true nature and perils of terrorism and religious extremism, the trainees get rid of thought control imposed by terrorism and extremism and lead a normal life.

Now , the third question, in its efforts to help rural surplus labor seek employment outside their hometowns, Xinjiang has always respected their personal will. There is no such thing as so called "annual target", let alone any forced ones.

In practical work, governments at all levels actively set up employment information platforms contacting employers to collect and sort out job information, which then is released timely through human resources market, employment service institutions and network, radio, television, village billboard and other channels. All of these facilitate voluntary employment and free choice of career. Laborers of all ethnic groups get the recruitment information such as weather conditions, types of work, accommodation, wages and benefits from human resource market or primary labor protection stations. With the information, they sign up voluntarily according to their conditions.

Xu Guixiang:Thanks for your answer, Mr. Rehmanjan Dawut. The second question you mentioned is about trainees of the vocational education and training center, we would like to ask the Spokesperson Zulyat Ismail to answer it.

Zulyat Ismail: Regarding the second question, the trainees of the education and training centers have all graduated and are led a normal life. They are normal members of society, requiring no special measures.

Xinjiang has made significant progress in its counterterrorism and deradicalization efforts and there has been no violent terrorist incidents for 4 years in a row. People have a much stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. However, the three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism and their influence still exist. And the "East Turkistan" forces are still waiting for their chance to create trouble. We still face a severe and complex situation in combating terrorism and extremism in Xinjiang. Based on its own conditions, Xinjiang will continue to intensify its counterterrorism and deradicalization efforts: On the one hand, striking hard at terrorist and extremist forces, and on the other hand, giving prevention a high priority to eliminate the sources of such forces and to protect people's fundamental human rights from being harmed by terrorism and extremism through improving people's livelihood, strengthening legal awareness and education, and stepping up assistance and support-giving initiatives.

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Zulyat Ismail. Please go ahead to raise questions, media friends.

China Arab TV: I have total two questions. The first one is that: there are some disputes on education and vocational training centers in Xinjiang on foreign social media platforms. What is your response to these disputes?

And the second is: are there any new polices for foreign journalists to conduct reporting and for foreign visitors to travel in Xinjiang?

Xu Guixiang: These two questions go to Zulyat Ismail.

Zulyat Ismail: On the first question, we have made several times of introduction on the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang at different occasions. The white paper "Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang" issued by the State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China expounded in detail the urgent needs, legislative authority, teaching content, management measures and remarkable results of education and training efforts. On 24th August, CCTV released a special document on this matter named "Lies and Truth-Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang", presenting to the public vividly the real stories and scenes in the centers.

Since the end of 2018, more than 1000 foreign nationals from over 90 countries in more than 70 groups went to Xinjiang and visited the vocational education and training centers, including UN officials, foreign diplomatic envoys to China, Geneva-based senior diplomats of various countries, and reporters from media, and members of religious organizations.

A number of them realized the truth and understood the urgency, necessity, legitimacy and rationality of carrying out education and training, and therefore all recognized that Xinjiang has made important contribution to international efforts to fight terrorism and extremism.

However, some agencies and people in the United States and western countries take blind eyes to all the facts and fabricate lies saying that the vocational education and training centers are "concentration camps" where "millions of Uygurs were detained" with evil intentions, but their despicable acts have been revealed by people with insights and consciousness in the international community.

For instance, one Turkish reporter who had visited the centers in January 2019 said that "the coverage of western media on vocational education and training centers are very negative, and one of the narratives is the establishments are 'camps" where some people were persecuted. I hold these views in my mind before I came here. But my preconception was removed. What I saw there is a center for education, the trainees there on one hand were given various training programs, and on the other hand, they wanted to improve themselves as well, willing to become men with virtues. The atmosphere at the center is good enough to help the trainees to integrate to the society again once they finish their programs."

And as disclosed by The Grayzone, an independent news website in the US that the sensational rumor that one millions Uygurs detained was first started and spread by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a non-governmental organization supported by the US government. This organization, based on dubious interviews and conjecture with only eight Uygurs and rough estimates, concluded that one tenth of the 20 million people in Xinjiang are detained in the so-called re-education camps. It is obvious that their sources of information could not stand the test exceedingly.The objective and rational analysis have actually revealed the malicious intentions of those anti-China forces. We hope that friends could see through and will not be blinded by them.

On the second question, I would like to stress that Xinjiang is open to the outside world with consistent policies. Renowned for its hospitality, people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang welcome foreign friends coming to Xinjiang and experience its magnificent landscapes. Foreign journalists should abide by Chinese laws and regulations when they operate in China.

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Zulyat Ismail. Please go ahead to raise questions, media friends.

Middle East News Agency: Over the past two years, China has arranged many diplomats and media to visit Xinjiang and introduced the situation there. However, the human rights situation in Xinjiang is still criticized by some countries. Could you explain it? How much impact does this have on China's relations with these countries?

Xu Guixiang: This question goes to Zulyat Ismail.

Zulyat Ismail: Attaching great importance to the development and progress of human rights, Xinjiang has taken resolute action to ensure the rights to life and development of people of all ethnic groups. Recently, the living standards of people of all ethnic groups have been improved, social undertakings have made progress, the excellent traditional ethnic cultures are protected and freedom of religious belief has been guaranteed according to law. There is no violent terrorism case for 4 years in a row. People have a much stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security, which is the best proof of human right protection.

Progress in human rights in Xinjiang has won general acknowledgement of the international community. Since the end of 2018, more than 1000 foreign nationals from over 90 countries visited Xinjiang in more than 70 groups, including UN officials, foreign diplomatic envoys to China, Geneva-based senior diplomats of various countries, reporters from media, and members of religious organizations. They saw with their own eyes the achievements Xinjiang has made in its economic and social development and improvement of people's livelihood, and expressed their appreciation. In July 2019, ambassadors from 37 countries, such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Russia, and Cuba, etc., to the UN Office at Geneva co-signed a letter to the president of the UN Human Rights Council and High Commissioner for Human Rights with positive comments on Xinjiang's human rights development. During a Third Committee session of the 74th UNGA, over 60 countries made common addresses and applauded the remarkable human rights progress Xinjiang has made. At the 44th UN Human Rights Council session in July this year, 46 countries in their joint statement applauded Xinjiang's measures and achievements in human rights.

However, some politicians from the US and western countries, despite the fact that they never visited Xinjiang nor understand the reality of the region, attacked and smeared Xinjiang using so called "violating human rights" as excuses. They controlled and instructed certain media and think tanks to spread sensational fallacies on Xinjiang with created disinformation, aiming at destabilizing Xinjiang and destroying its stability and prosperity, in order to contain and suppress China.

Xinjiang-related matters are about the China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and national core interests that, as China's internal affairs, allow no foreign interference. We urge those politicians and organizations to give up their political bias and stop criticizing Xinjiang with groundless accusations, stop interfering China's internal affairs and stop playing repeatedly their ridiculous tricks. If they really have that much spare time, why not cure their own human rights problems.

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Zulyat Ismail. Please go ahead to raise questions, media friends.

China Daily: Some foreign countries and organizations alleged that Xinjiang had "massive forced labor" and "polluted global industry and supply chain" for some time. What's your response?

Xu Guixiang: This question goes to Zulyat Ismail.

Zulyat Ismail: The so-called "massive forced labor" in Xinjiang are lies and fallacies fabricated by some American and western anti-China organizations and individuals, which totally run counter to the facts. On September 17, the State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China issued the White Paper Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang which gave a full account of employment in Xinjiang, proactive employment policies, labor rights protection and demonstrable results. I would like to stress the following points again:

Employment of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang is protected by law. Fulfilling the Charter of the International Organization and the spirit of relevant convention, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has strictly followed the Labor Law of the People's Republic of China, and formulated and implemented a series of regional regulations based on local conditions, including measures for implementing the Labor Law of the People's Republic of China, Regulations on Labor and Social Security Supervision. The goal is to bring the establishment, management, supervision and arbitration of labor relations under legal scrutiny and conduct routine inspections to ensure that labor laws are enforced. The following actions are strictly forbidden and will lead to administrative punishments: forcing a person to work by means of violence, threat, or illegal limitation of personal freedom.

Employment of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang is totally free.The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region adheres to the employment policy on encouraging individual initiative, regulatory role of the market, and government policies facilitating employment, entrepreneurship, and business startups, which brings the market into effectively allocating labor resources to build voluntary two-way selection platforms for both employers and employees.Workers from ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang are truly free to choose a profession and can decide on where to work out of their own free will. There is no restriction on their personal freedom. The role of government is to incubate a good environment for employment, and create conditions for people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang finding satisfying jobs, obtaining stable income, and enjoying the right to work to the greatest extent.

Labor rights and interests of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are lawfully protected. Laborers of all ethnic groups sign labor contracts with companies based on equal and voluntary consensus according to law. Issues such as salary, rest and leisure, occupational safety, social security benefits are all protected in accordance with the law. Their customs, languages and cultures, religions and beliefs are fully respected and protected by law regardless of their working places.

It has been proven that the proactive polices to ensure employment and job security adopted by the local government of Xinjiang have effectively protected the people of all ethnic groups' basic labor rights, greatly improved their living and working conditions. It comply with China's Constitution and relevant laws, conform to international labor and human rights standards, and support the will of all ethnic groups to live a better life. The righteousness of the policy can withstand inspections of the whole world.

The fallacy of Xinjiang's "massive forced labor" first appeared in Australian Institute of Strategic Policy Studies, which has the US government and arms merchants as financial backers for a long time, cooking up a report published on March 1 at their will named "Selling the Uygurs," making up some ridiculous "stories" with no solid facts. Soon after, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China fabricated Global Supply Chain, Forced Labor in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region based on "Selling the Uygurs," which claims that all export products from Xinjiang are made by forced labor violating American laws, polluting global industry and supply chain, and calling on American companies to stop importing products from Xinjiang. At the end of June this year, the US State Department introduced 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report continuing the lies. At the beginning of July, the US government issued Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory to repeat lies.Taking an excuse of "forced labor," the US government publicly intimidated and prevented American companies and individuals from cooperating with Xinjiang. Recently, the US House of Representatives insistently reviewed and adopted the Uygur Forced Labor Prevention Act that banned all goods made in Xinjiang from being imported to the US and threatened to impose sanctions on personnel and entities in China.

While talking a lot about "care for" ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, some people in the US and western countries thoroughly ignore the efforts made by the region's local government to protect human rights and secure employment. They maliciously hype up the so-called "forced labor" and suppress companies in Xinjiang under such pretext. A series of measures taken by the US and the West are blatant interference in China's internal affairs, brutal destruction of Xinjiang's efforts in the promotion of eco-social development and human rights, and wanton violation in the basic labor rights of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang under the banner of human rights. Their acts amount to a denial of the fact that the local people in Xinjiang enjoy the right to work, aspire to move out of poverty and backwardness and are working towards that goal. However, their despicable attempts defy people's wishes and will never succeed.

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Zulyat Ismail. Please go ahead to raise questions, media friends.

CGTN: According to the White Paper "Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang" issued by China's State Council Information Office, the policy and practice of employment and labor rights in Xinjiang conforms to the international labor and human rights. Some Americans assumed there existed "forced labor" in Xinjiang, could you please elaborateon it from the perspective of International laws ?

Xu Guixiang: This question goes to Zulyat Ismail.

Zulyat Ismail: China is a founding and permanent member state of the International Labor Organization (ILO). China has ratified 26 international labor conventions, including four of the ILO's fundamental conventions -- Equal Remuneration Convention, Minimum Age Convention, Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, and Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention. China is also a signatory state to a host of UN conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

China applies international labor and human rights standards in its legislation, policy making and policy implementation, to effectively safeguard workers' rights. China prohibits child labor, opposes forced labor, employment discrimination, and workplace sexual harassment, takes targeted actions to combat illegal employment, and prevents and punishes all kinds of violations and crimes concerning employment. In fulfilling their responsibilities to secure employment, local people's governments at all levels in Xinjiang promote full and high-quality employment for people in different areas, of different ethnic groups, and with different economic conditions, to achieve common development and progress among all ethnic groups. Xinjiang has thus become a successful example of practicing international labor and human rights standards in underdeveloped areas with large populations of ethnic minorities.

The US slandered that Xinjiang existed "forced labor," the behaviour neither in line with international morality nor with international laws. They are in no position to say so.

Firstly, the US interfered in China's sovereignty by the so-called "forced labor" which violated the principle of International Law of sovereignty equality. In 1648, the first International convention named "the Peace Treaty of Westphalia" affirmed the sovereignty equality for Inter-countries. Since then, sovereignty equality has became one of the basic principle for International laws and International relations. We have to point out that the employment and labor issues in Xinjiang belongs to China's internal affairs, the attack and slander on Xinjiang's employment and labor issues by the US have seriously interfered China's internal affairs, encroached on China's sovereignty, violated the basic facts and the principle of sovereignty equality. It's blatant hegemony. The so-called International laws or international rules by some American politicians are far from the international recognized rules or principles, all of them are one-sided agreements which could be created causally based on their interests.

Secondly, the US is the country infringed upon labors' human rights and forced them to work. Historically, the US was known for its notorious behavior including black and oversea Chinese labor trade, American Indian abuse. In the Trafficking in Person Reports, which are published annually by the US State Department, admitted that the country is one of the resource, destination and transit nation for human trafficking. Even some American government officials participated in human trafficking and forced labor. Facing those crimes and misdeeds, how did those Americans dare to make indiscreet remarks on Xinjiang's employment and labor issues? The slanders could only damage their own reputation and credibility.

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Zulyat Ismail. Please go ahead to raise questions, media friends.

Global Times: We learned that in recent years, Xinjiang has vigorously implemented employment projects, and the situation continues to improve. What specific measures have been taken?

Xu Guixiang: This question goes to the Director Rehmanjan Dawut.

Rehmanjan Dawut: In accordance with the country's major policies on employment, Xinjiang takes the facilitation of employment as the most fundamental project for ensuring and improving people's wellbeing. It has made every effort to increase and stabilize employment through various channels and ensure all ethnic groups can enjoy the right of employment.

First is to fully respect laborers' job preference and encourage individual initiative, helping them give full play to their own potential, improve their capacity for professional skills and achieve stable employment through their own efforts. In recent years, there is a growing willingness for all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, especially masses of poverty-stricken villages in Southern Xinjiang, to go out of villages and work in the enterprises. The idea of finding jobs and starting businesses in order to increase income and get rich has been deeply rooted in people's heart. Ablikim Qadir, who came from Wuqia Township, Yingjisha County, Kashi Prefecture, took his family members to Qingdao to find jobs in 2010. He came back home to visit relatives once a year. His fellow villagers always inquired him about the situation and experience of working in Qingdao. Pashagul Keram who came from Aheqi Village, Piaoertuokuoyi Township, Wuqia County, Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, once made a living by herding and lived a poor life. After she went to Guangdong province to work, there was a significant increase in income and she got rid of poverty. Her story encouraged more than 500 poverty-stricken laborers to find jobs.

Second is to build an extensive contact network with employers in and outside Xinjiang to collect and collate job information, which is released timely with the help of information technology through the human resource market, public placement agencies, online service platforms, radio, TV, village and community bulletin boards, enabling people to look for the jobs that suit them best. Now masses of all ethnic groups who want to get employed can find suitable jobs through various ways. And the problem of employment difficulty for enterprises has been effectively solved. For example, the Aksu Prefecture has released job and candidate information on its public placement service portal and its WeChat account, to build two-way selection platforms for employers and employees. Since 2014, it has organized 621 job fairs, attracting 4,953 companies, providing over 145,000 job opportunities, and helping 38,600 people to find work.

Third is to give full pay to the important responsibility of the government in promoting employment and improve various policies to facilitate employment,and to diversify its industrial structure and expanded the capacity and scale of employment. And we have focused on skill training for groups with employment difficulties, such as rural surplus labor force, laid-off and unemployed people, and the disabled, so as to effectively encourage their initiative. Proactive policies on employment have been implemented, which include providing tax incentives, insurance and subsidies, guaranteed loans, to encourage entrepreneurs to be job creators. A comprehensive picture of labor resource has been formed. We have built employment information platforms and bolstered public employment services to provide equal opportunities for labors to get jobs or start businesses. Kashi Prefecture has focused on the development of agricultural and sideline products processing and electronic assembly industry and actively introduced and cultivated relevant enterprises to settle in the industrial park. Workshops of those industries had also been established in the countryside. By the end of 2019, the number of enterprises of agricultural and sideline products processing has reached 210, which employed 16,700 people. There has been 1,406 industrial enterprises settled in different kinds of industrial parks, which employed 84,100 people. Bayingol Mongolia Autonomous Prefecture has successively provided special support fund of 10,000,000 RMB to 2,870 entrepreneurs and issued guaranteed loans of 11,910,000 RMB to 260 entrepreneurs. Hotan prefecture has continuously strengthened the construction of public employment service platforms, establishing public human resources markets in Hotan City and 7 counties, setting up labor security firms in townships and assigning workers for labor security information services in the administrative villages, which made employment services available to the "last kilometer". In 2019, employment service agencies of all levels in Hotan provided more than 300,000 urban and rural labourers with services of policy propaganda, employment guidance, unemployment registration, employment and job search and employment assistance and released 20,000 employment messages on different platforms.

Thanks to the the vigorous employment projects in Xinjiang over the recent years, the employment situation in Xinjiang has continued to improve, people's incomes and quality of life are rising. From 2014 to 2019, the total number of people employed in Xinjiang rose from 11.35 million to 13.3 million, an increase of 17.2 percent. The average annual increase in urban employment was more than 471,200 people (148,000 in southern Xinjiang, accounting for 31.4 percent); and the average annual relocation of surplus rural labor was more than 2.763 million people. People of all ethnic groups are living better lives through working diligently, their sense of gain, happiness and security has significantly increased.

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Rehmanjan Dawut. Please go ahead to raise questions, media friends.

Xinjiang Station of China National Radio of China Media Group: Some media say that the employment policy in Xinjiang has reduced Uygurs' quality of life instead of improving it. What's your comment on this?

Xu Guixiang: This question goes to the Director Rehmanjan Dawut.

Rehmanjan Dawut: What they mentioned about the "employment policy in Xinjiang hasn't improved Uygurs' living quality, but made it worse on the contrary" is an outright lie. Actually, as the result of the implementation of a series of employment policies, profound changes have taken place in the life, work and mentality of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and particularly in southern Xinjiang.

A marked increase in family incomes. People working either within or outside of Xinjiang all have stable incomes. The annual per capita income of workers from Xinjiang who are working in other provinces is about RMB40,000, roughly equal to the per capita disposable income of permanent urban residents in the places where they work. The local people who left their home to work elsewhere in Xinjiang have an annual per capita income of RMB30,000, much higher than earnings from farming. For example, a villager named Arapat Ahmatjan from Charbagh Township, Lop County, Hotan Prefecture earned less than 10,000 yuan per year as a farmer; but when he found work in an electric appliance company in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province in 2017, he earned more than RMB160,000 in less than three years.

Notable improvement in living standards. From having their basic needs met to enjoying decent lives, and from traveling by a donkey cart to traveling in modern vehicles, the people in Xinjiang have witnessed tremendous changes in their lives. Smart phones, automobiles, travelling, and house-purchasing have become the new consumption hotspots of the people of Southern Xinjiang. For example, a villager called Reyhangul Imir from a poor household in Ojma Township, Akto County, Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture sent back more than 100,000 yuan to her family in the four years she spent working in Cixi City, Zhejiang Province. With the money, her family upgraded their lives by building a new house equipped with new furniture in her hometown.

Enhanced employability.Through various preemployment training programs, the local people have greatly improved their employment skills; many have grown into master hands and technical experts, and some have become managers and even started up their own businesses. Mamattohti Imintohti from Hotan County, Hotan Prefecture worked as an apprentice in a restaurant in Saybagh District, Urumqi in 2017 and soon mastered the skills of a pastry cook. With the help of his teacher, he opened a restaurant which has become very popular with in monthly income from 5000 to 7000 yuan.

A change in mindset. The belief that "only hard work can bring a better life" is widespread, and all ethnic groups, especially people in southern rural places are eager to rely on their own efforts to improve their lives, and ready to start up their own businesses. Ablimit Keyum from Kanchi Township, Baicheng (Bay) County, Aksu Prefecture, who is doing business in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, said, "I want to work harder to buy house and settle in here." For example, at a job fair held in Makit County, Kashgar Prefecture, many candidates hurried around gathering information on available opportunities and applying for positions. It was an inspiring scene. Some villagers were motivated to find opportunities outside their villages and give their families a better life after seeing their peers had made some money and were looking more prosperous.

Closer communication and bonds between all ethnic groups. Workers of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have forged profound friendships while working, studying and living together. They embrace together like the pomegranate seeds. Qurmanali Mamut from Halbulaq Township, Aqchi County, Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture works in an electrical appliance company in Jiangsu Province, he likes to invite his workmates to the dorm, cooking Xinjiang gourmet foods like pilaf, kebabs for them and telling stories about Xinjiang. He's popular among workers of all ethic groups.

At present, all ethnic groups including Uygurs have witnessed profound changes - their pockets are better filled, their lives are better, and they are happier. It has become a cheering fact that "each household has access to job opportunities, each person has work to do, and each month goes with an income".

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Rehmanjan Dawut. Please go ahead to raise questions.

Xinhua News Agency: Some media outlets said that workers of ethnic minorities origin in Xinjiang were monitored while working in factories and their customs and religious beliefs were suppressed. What is your opinion?

Xu Guixiang: This question goes to the Director Rehmanjan Dawut.

Rehmanjan Dawut: There are no such things as someone hyped up that the minorities laborers were monitored and their customs or religious beliefs got suppressed in any places of China. The Chinese government is committed to respecting citizens' right to work, safeguarding their legitimate labor rights and interests, and ensuring them decent jobs. Strictly following the above principles as embodied in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and relevant national laws, including the Labor Law, Labor Contract Law, Social Insurance Law, Xinjiang has formulated and implemented a series of autonomous regional regulations based on local conditions, including measures for implementing the national Employment Promotion Law, Regulations on Labor and Social Security Supervision, the Regulations of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on the Protection of Labor Rights and Interests, the Regulations of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Collective Salary Negotiation of Enterprises. These laws and regulations provide a solid legal guarantee for citizens in Xinjiang to enjoy equal rights to work.

In Xinjiang, laborers of all ethnics, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, enjoyed equal rights to employment, remuneration, rest and leisure, occupational safety and freedom for religious beliefs. There is no discrimination against workers on the basis of ethnicity, region, gender, and religious belief. Based on the principle of equality and voluntarily, laborers of all ethnics sign labor contract with employers so as to build up law-protected employment relationship.They all access to participant the basic pension, medical unemployment, and work-related injury insurance as well as receive the salaries more than the local minimum salary standard. The working hours for all laborers should be in accordance with laws. They are guaranteed the right to rest on weekends and statutory holidays. They also enjoy the rights for paid holidays after they have worked for at least a year. All the laborers could safeguard their legitimate rights and interests if working disputes happened. With the legal consulting station as the channel, the Federation of Trade Unions of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region founded lawyers volunteer organization for laborers' right-safeguarding to provide free service such as legal consulting and aid for laborers of all ethnics, helping them to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.

In other provinces of China, migrant workers of Xinjiang origin enjoy the above rights. In the meantime, enterprises in those places fully respect the living habits of Xinjiang staff and provide special care for them. In the aspect of customs and habits, Muslim canteens are available for the staff who are in need of Muslim food. When it comes to the traditional holidays for ethnic minorities, get-together activities will be held. Workers of ethnic minorities will wear traditional ethnic costume and get together with local staff, singing, playing the tambourine and dancing Maxirap. The atmosphere is cheerful and harmonious. Many ethnic minorities who work in Beijing, Shanghai and Fujian reckon that although they are far away from home, they feel more warm in heart. In the aspect of religious belief, workers of Xinjiang origin's freedom of religious belief is protected by law, and they will be treated the same no matter where they are. There are mosques in many provinces of China as well, the workers can decide on their own whether to attend religious activities or not. Any organizations or individuals cannot intervene. In the aspect of work and living, according to workers' actual situation, enterprises will provide systematic training for them, helping them master labor skills as soon as possible and adapt to their work. The enterprises also provide accommodation with complete living facilities. In the meantime, Federation of trade unions of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and relevant Federation of trade unions of other provinces have established a working mechanism for safeguarding the rights of migrant workers of Xinjiang origin in accordance with the law and helped them solving their difficulties in a timely manner.

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Rehmanjan Dawut. Please go ahead to raise questions, media friends.

Xinjiang Radio and Television Station: This year, the US Department of Commerce has imposed sanctions on multiple enterprises including Aksu Huafu Color Spinning Co., Ltd., Changji Esquel Textile Co. Ltd. and Hotan Taida Apparel Co., Ltd., citing "forced labor" charges. What's your reaction to this? And how did those sanctioned enterprises view this issue?

Xu Guixiang: This question goes to the Deputy Director Askhal Tursun.

Askhal Tursun: The US's arbitrary sanctions on Xinjiang-based enterprises such as Aksu Huafu Color Spinning Ltd. Co., Changji Esquel Textile Ltd. Co., Hotan Taida Clothing Ltd. Co., Hotan Meixin Hair Product Co., Ltd. and Hotan Haolin Hair Co., Ltd. on the grounds of the so called "forced labor" are hideous manifestation of US's "long arm jurisdiction," which tramples on the international law and norms, seriously violates the lawful rights and interests of the affected enterprises and their employees. We are strongly indignant about and opposed to it.

All above-mentioned companies are legally registered, operated based on the provisions of laws and regulations; they fulfill their social responsibility, uphold business ethics, guarantee workers' rights to remuneration, rest and leisure, workplace safety and occupational disease protection, social insurance. These companies provide local ethnic minorities with opportunities to get out of poverty and to live better off lives, and their employees are very satisfied about it. There is no such thing as "forced labor" at all. Some US authorities imposed sanctions on the enterprises without verifying the information they gathered and even communicating with or contacting the the employees of the enterprises, seriously violating international trade norms, breaking global industrial and supply chains. It is an act of blatant bullying. We support companies to defend their legitimate rights by means of law, and we urge relevant US authorities to respect the facts, give up prejudice, stop political manipulation, revoke the erroneous sanctions, resume normal business contact between enterprises of the two countries.

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Askhal Tursun. Please go ahead to raise questions, media friends.

China News Service: We have noticed that overseas "East Turkestan" forces are spreading rumors like "Chinese government is destroying Uyghurs with the virus," "Xinjiang is hiding the truths about the epidemic," "Xinjiang is fighting COVID-19 at the expense of human rights." What's your comment on this?

Xu Guixiang: This question goes to Zulyat Ismail.

Zulyat Ismail: When the epidemic broke out in Urumqi, "Eastern Turkestan" forces kept spreading horrifying rumors and lies to achieve their sinister motives. Taking this opportunity, I would like to introduce to you the truths.

The allegations, for instance, "Chinese government is destroying Uyghurs with the virus, " and "biometric data of Uyghurs are being collected in the name of epidemic prevention in order to strengthen clamping down on Uyghurs," only expose the rumor-makers' ignorance of COVID-19. Based on the studies of WHO and world-renowned experts, COVID-19 is not lab-invented, but a natural disease, let alone a bioweapon developed by some research institutions. Like other countries, China is a victim. How come China "uses" this virus to do something? After the outbreak, in order to prevent and control the pandemic effectively,free nucleic acid tests were conducted in Urumqi, thus ensuring early detection, reporting, isolation and treatment. This is the key measure to contain COVID-19. It is so absurd to call it "biometric data collection."

Another example: they say "Xinjiang is hiding the truths about the epidemic." That is a blatant lie. After the epidemic outbreak, we conducted 35 times of press conferences on "containing COVID-19 in Xinjiang" in a responsible, fact-based and open manner. We publicized the phone numbers of principal leaders of the Urumqi city and its districts; we released information about epidemic prevention, treatment of patients, goods supply, health advice and cautionaries and policies for the convenience of the people on such new platforms as "Urumqi on the palm" mobile app. We replied more than 55,000 inquiries on 149 topics from the public, with a 100% reply rate. So, where did "hiding the truths about the epidemic" come from?

They say "Xinjiang is fighting COVID-19 by sacrificing human rights," which is outright stigmatization of Xinjiang's epidemic containment efforts and achievements under the cover of "human rights." After the epidemic broke out, under the support of the expert teams of the State Council Joint Prevention & Control Mechanism, by following the principle of "treat the infected in dedicated facilities by medical specialists from all over the region and with necessary resources", we made all-out efforts to treat confirmed cases, intensified the epidemic monitoring, adopted differentiated district-basedprevention and control approach, doubled efforts in managing social entities, frequently visited places and key areas, to eliminate the risks of virus transmmission and spreading to the best extent possible. We also guaranteed supply of daily necessities like vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, milk and grains in sufficient amount and at stable price. All these measures were supported by the people of different ethnic groups. Thanks to the such efforts, we have effectively contained COVID-19, and all 826 patients infected with the virus were cured and discharged from hospital without any single death case. We have demonstrated that we put people first and life is of paramount importance, which is the real protection of human rights. So, how could "sacrificing human rights" be possible?

They also say "COVID-19 is gravely jeopardizing a million Uyghur muslims in detention camps". This is completely a rumour with ulterior motives. We want to reaffirm that vocational education and training centers are schools set up according to law and aimed at deradicalization, they are not "detention camps" at all. "One million muslims were detained" is a fabricated rumor by some US and western organizations and personnel, which has already proved to be a lie by us. All of the trainees have already graduated. So, how come "the virus posed a severe threat to the trainees?"

We must see that overseas "Eastern Turkestan" forces are conflating epidemic prevention with ethnic issues, human rights, freedom, vocational education and training centers, biometric data gathering, and spreading horrifying disinformation. Their ultimate purpose is to provoke anti-China sentiment, smear Xinjiang's image, and mislead international community. Their ugly behaviors will be opposed by the international community.

Xu Guixiang: Thank you for your answer, Zulyat Ismail. Today's press conference concludes now. Thanks all the invitees and reporters.

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