Hundreds have died and many more hundreds have been seriously injured after multiple bombs were set off across Sri Lanka by terrorists. In May of this year, the island nation was set to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the defeat of LTTE terrorists by the security forces, but now a commemoration of peace has been marred by a new wave of terror.
These shocking events make it clear that even during times of peace such as that which Sri Lanka had experienced since 2009, authorities must be extremely vigilant against new extremist threats. This is why China has taken an approach to counter-terrorism in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region that combines a robust defence against a return to the extremism of the past with programmes that continue to elevate the material condition of the people.
The countries that have been the most successful at eliminating extremism have been those that have understood the importance of curtailing the spread of terror through traditional means as well as eliminating the perverse attraction of extremism among the vulnerable by offering positive opportunities for economic and social engagement. In Xinjiang, the government continues to provide high level investment for infrastructural development, the maintenance and expansion of Islamic institutions that promote social harmony and a positive understanding of civic responsibility, free educational programmes for both the young and adults, as well as free vocational training for those who can better their lives through positive economic engagement.
The result is that over the past six years, life in Xinjiang has improved for all social groups. Those from outside of China who have visited Xinjiang over the years have often remarked on this progress as life continues to improve and as cities become more comfortable for locals and more attractive for foreign visitors.
The reason that Xinjiang has become a success story is due to the unwavering commitment by the authorities to protect civilians from the kind of carnage that unfolded in Sri Lanka whilst also using the economic might of the overall economy to help the west Chinese region to experience the same kinds of prosperity typically associated with China’s eastern and coastal regions.
China’s rehabilitation of Xinjiang has unfortunately been distorted by same countries that are pushing a provocative anti-Chinese narrative for reasons that have nothing to do with internal developments in Xinjiang. But at a time when the eyes of the world have been re-focused on the dangers of terrorism, it would be helpful to study the Xinjiang model of peace and prosperity that has helped to eradicate the dangers that are still prevalent in much of the world.
Every country must ultimately develop an internal security model that meets the specific needs of the issues at hand, however, it can benefit the entire world to learn from positive examples of countries and regions that have been able to replace an atmosphere of violence and hostility with one of progress, prosperity and social harmony. In this sense, Xinjiang’s successful model should at minimum be studied by countries throughout the world that seek to promote a peaceful resolution to the dangerous of international extremism.