The vocational education and training program in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region should be viewed as a constructive effort to help eliminate the soil that breeds terrorism and extremism, said Zhang Nan, a researcher at the Anti-Terrorism Law School of the Northwest University of Political Science and Law.
At a meeting titled "Practice of Human Rights Protection in China" jointly organized by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the Permanent Mission of China to UN in Geneva on Monday, Zhang said that it is groundless to view this effort as "illegal detention of a certain ethnic group".
"The United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism proposes to provide people affected by violent extremism educational and economic opportunities so as to help them get rid of the control of extremism, and Xinjiang's vocational education and training program is very much compatible with such concept," he noted.
He said that many countries have tried various means to combat terrorism by increasing military forces, but they have so far failed in eliminating the threat of terrorism and sometimes even fallen into a worse vicious circle.
"Therefore, it is widely recognized that combating terrorism cannot be limited to 'hard measures' and it is necessary to fully integrate 'soft means' to play a prevention and intervention role," he stressed.
He told the audience that the trainees under the vocational education and training program are only limited to those who are influenced by terrorism and extremism, suspected of minor criminal offenses and can be dealt with leniently.
For those people, he said, Xinjiang has provided them with free vocational education and training to help improve their ability to obtain more knowledge and information through mastering the country's common language, acquire legal knowledge to distinguish illegal behaviors, and get jobs through commanding vocational skills.
"By doing so, the trainee's rights to survival and development will be protected better, and the soil that breeds terrorism and extremism will be further eliminated," Zhang said.
With major achievements in fighting terrorism and safeguarding stability having been scored, the expert said, in the past 21 months no violent terrorist attacks have occurred in Xinjiang, and the number of visiting tourists has increased by more than 30 percent for two consecutive years, expected to reach 150 million this year.