China recently witnessed upheavals within its western provinces of Xinjiang, an incidence referred to as the Urumqi unrest. In this interview The New Time’s Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah talked to Li Yigang Chinese Chargé d’Affaires in Rwanda on the official response by the Chinese Government on this incidence as well as a wide range of issues affecting Chinese Government presence in Africa.
TNT: What is the genesis of this problem in Xinjiang province?
LY:A lot of facts proven that the World Uyghur Congress headed by the ethnic separatist Rebiya Kadeer made an issue of an incident in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province on 26 June 2009 as excuse to vilify China’s ethnic and religious policies in an attempt to create publicity and stir up trouble aiming to separate China and undermine ethnic solidarity.
TNT: Your Government has been accused of fanning violence against what appears as peaceful demos.
LY: Facts have shown that on July 5th 2009, the rioters set fire on buildings, smashed or burned vehicles, and killed innocent people even policemen at 220 sites in Urumqi.
At the same time this incidence caused heavy losses of life and property. Till now, there were 192 people killed and 1,721 were injured.
Many of them were beaten to death right on roads or alleys.
The cruelty of their deeds was abhorrent. This incident was premeditated and organized serious crimes of violence, directed and instigated by separatists abroad and organized and carried out by separatists inside the country. You see anything peaceful in this incident?
The actions taken by the Chinese Government according to law is to stop this crime, restore social order and safeguard ethnic solidarity.
TNT: Do you hold the view that the Urumqi people want to break away?
LY: We have in this region 21 million people drawn from 47 different ethnic groups. Even in the history, people from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang could live and work together in harmony as one family.
When this incident happened, a lot of Uyghur and Han people in Urumqi had sought to help each other to avoid loss of property and damages by the rioters, holding together to fight against the rioters.
What they have done was really impressive. Unity among people of all ethnic groups, social harmony and stability represent the highest interests of the Chinese nation. We will redouble our efforts to ensure that people of all ethnic groups continue to work as one for common prosperity and development.
TNT: Rebiya Kadeer says that media is biased against Urumqi. Comment.
LY: Actually, relevant authorities of China took measures to facilitate the work of foreign and domestic media in Urumqi.
The report on this incident is open and transparent. The purpose is that we hope the media could cover the incident fairly, objectively and faithfully.
Unfortunately, we observed that some of the western media distorted the facts on purpose, or even made fake news to confuse the public.
This is not acceptable.
TNT: Closer home how is the Sino-Rwandan bilateral framework working out?
LY: We have a cordial relationship ever since diplomatic relations commenced in 1971.We are making progress in many fields year by year ever since. We maintain high level relations.
And cooperation in various areas, such as in economic, agricultural, educational and cultural fields etc, have been improved and made progress.
TNT:At the global level the Chinese are being accused of giving support to African countries without particularly looking deeper at issues such as Human Rights violations or democracy. Comment.
LY: China is a developing country. China maintains that all countries, whether big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are all equal. No interference into other countries internal affairs is our policy.
So we want to do what is best for our brothers under this banner called ‘developing countries’. So we will do what it takes to help and assist such countries.
TNT:Further to the above, the Chinese reconstruction programmes in DR Congo has received critical reviews partly due to how its basic components have been designed. What is your take?
LY: Basically in Africa our cooperation frameworks are based on mutual benefit. This is very important. We are trying to improve the cooperation within the new situation unfolding in Africa.
We have to look for new ways to assist. So we have to look for mutually beneficial programmes. This goes hand in hand with new models which we have to mutually develop to enhance African development.
TNT:The global financial crisis will most likely affect Chinese positioning within the global system. Any counter measures so far?
LY: For sure we are affected. But we are avoiding further losses. For instance we are trying to strengthen our internal systems.
China’s internal markets are huge. So we have to keep our GDP growth to 8% by looking at internal markets. On cooperation with other developing countries we are on talking terms.
For instance we are talking to African countries for the purposes of forging a common front. We are trying to open that kind of front as a mitigation measure against this crisis.
In so doing we will also be part of solution to a big problem meaning that we will be relevant to global solutions by assisting the developing world to rise up against this challenge.
For instance a Sino-African framework is in the works to help in this end which is slated to be held in Cairo.
TNT:How can China assist a country like Rwanda to actualize its development objectives?
LY: Cooperation, collaboration and concentration of relations are very important ingredients. In Rwanda we are on the ground in certain sectors. As I had mentioned our relations is premised on mutual friendship.
So we closely look at African development plans and in response we work out solutions around these offers. For instance a Joint Permanent Commission delegation will be sent from Rwanda to China to deepen our cooperation.
This is how we conduct our roles.