The ‘deep message’ of the Chinese President’s extensive inspection tour of Xinjiang

CGTN correspondent, Robert Lawrence Kuhn asks: What is the ‘deep message’ of the Chinese President’s extensive inspection tour of Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region? Why now, his first trip to Xinjiang in eight years?

It is not a coincidence that President Xi’s two most-recent trips, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, within two weeks, were both aimed at signifying national unity in that both areas have witnessed social disruptions and both areas have been targets of severe foreign censure.

Xi was in Xinjiang for four intense days of substance and symbolism. His overarching vision was for Xinjiang to be united, harmonious, prosperous and culturally advanced, with healthy ecosystems and people living and working in contentment, highlighting social stability and lasting security as the overarching goal. He called for promoting research on “community” for China as a multi-ethnic country, with diversity and unity as a distinctive feature of the Chinese nation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping waves to people of various ethnic groups while visiting the community of Guyuanxiang in the Tianshan District in the city of Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 13, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

Xi Jinping stressed that maintaining long-term stability lies in people’s hearts, that cultural identity is the deepest level of identity, and that Chinese civilization is the root of the cultures of all ethnic groups. Xi called for improving the governance capacity of religious affairs and for realizing the healthy development of religions.

Enhanced efforts should be made to uphold the principle that Islam in China must be Chinese in orientation, and to adapt religions to socialist society, he said. The normal religious needs of religious believers should be ensured and they should be united closely around the Party and the government, Xi added.

Throughout his visit, by focusing on economic development, President Xi drew a close connection between development and stability, and he seemed to ratify what has been a growing consensus that the central government’s relative priorities for Xinjiang have shifted from safety and security to economic development and the raising of standards of living. He asserted that Xinjiang’s progress affects the whole country; it is a big deal to the Party and the entire nation.

Thus, the Deep Message of Xi’s visit is three-fold.

First, the social disruptions are over and economic development can once again be highest priority.

Second, China is a multi-ethnic community with a shared civilization and great opportunities.

Third, China is strong and confident, which foreign criticism does not and cannot shake.

That is the Deep Message as the run-up to the 20th CPC National Congress accelerates.

Source: CGTN, 16-July-2022.

Video: by Robert Lawrence Kuhn