Trip to Gansu Province and Xinjiang Autonomous Region, July 7 to 14.
An invitation came through Chinese Embassy Political Counsellor Wang Zhenyu from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department of External Security Affairs, PRC.
I was joined on this delegation by delegates from Russia, Poland, Italy, France, Pakistan and Thailand. All are either academics or journalists with a long record of contacts with China, a history of research in China and publication about China.
July 8, am, Beijing. Seminar at China Tibetology Centre and visit to their museum of Tibetan history and culture.
Afternoon: Seminar at Institute of China Borderlands, focusing on Xinjiang issues.
Both these seminars took the form of open discussion, with comprehensive answers to questions posed by the delegates.
July 9, am, flight to Lanzhou,
Afternoon, seminar with Gansu Academy of Social Sciences. The focus of this seminar was our pending trip to Gannan Tibetan Autonomous prefecture, in the South-east of Gansu Province.
July 10, visit Gannan Autonomous Tibetan Prefecture of Gansu Province.Visit to Labrang Monastery, Xiahe. Overnight in Hezuo, capital of Gannan prefecture.
July 11, a visit to Gaxiu model Tibetan village, and their ‘village collective economy’ , where permanent housing, and support for animal husbandry and tourism industries have seen the livelihoods of 1000 members of the village soar, while retaining their nomadic herdsmen lifestyle in summer.
July 12, morning flight from Lanzhou to Turpan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Afternoon, visit to Turpan vocational training centre – not a ‘concentration camp’- as an example of the efforts being made to improve the opportunities for the people of Xinijiang.
Visit to the ancient Karez irrigation system, that is still in use, and being maintained.Later that evening, a visit to Jiaohe ancient town.
July 13, morning bullet train to Urumqi.
A visit to the very harrowing ‘Exhibition on Major Incidents of Violence and Terror in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region’, depicting 40 examples of terrorist attacks on random targets in Xinjiang from 1992 to 2005. The approaches made have resulted in no further attacks for nearly three years.
Afternoon, meeting with experts from Xinjiang University and Academy of Social Sciences to discuss the extent of radicalisation and terrorist threats, and the steps taken to counter these.
In the evening, we visited the Peoples Square in the centre of Urumqi, where many thousands were enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and dancing in numerous scattered groups.
July 14, a visit to the White Mosque, which has several thousand regular attendees, and the Bazaar, before an afternoon flight back to Beijing.
I intend to write more detailed reports on discussions held and visits made over the next several weeks. In the meantime, here is a link to a report written by fellow delegate S M Hali, a frequent visitor to Xinjiang since 1974, and a practicing moslem, now a freelance writer and international commentator. https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/07/19/in-the-tibetan-and-uighur-autonomous-regions/
Dave Bromwich July 19 2019