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Anti-Terrorism In Xinjiang: Expert digs into western reports' impact on region's image abroad
update:March 04,2020
March 4,2020 -- A Chinese scholar has accused western media reports of creating an unbalanced and unfair image of the country's Xinjiang region. The analysis comes from Professor Zheng Liang at Jinan University, on the sidelines of this week's UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. Our reporter Xi Jia has more. 
Many people who have never set foot in China, never mind the autonomous region of Xinjiang, have strong views and opinions about what's happening there. But what are these views based on? More often than not, the answer is how Xinjiang has been represented by western media outlets. But can people get a clear and balanced picture of Xinjiang through this coverage? Professor Zheng Liang has researched the western media's news coverage of Xinjiang for a span of sixteen years.
PROFESSOR ZHENG LIANG Jinan University "Western newspapers, when they report on Xinjiang, selectively highlight the fact that Xinjiang was a place struck by various terror attacks, while at the same time downplaying the normal and ordinary aspects of Xinjiang. I understand that bad news makes good news, but generally in the long term, this gives the audience an impression that Xinjiang is a place full of tension and conflict. The lives of ordinary people are deliberately ignored."
Based on his study of four newspapers, Professor Zheng says western media constructs Xinjiang coverage through certain types of "frames." In media studies, a frame is a set of reference points that the media delivers to its audience, which in turn shape and influence opinions regarding certain events.
PROFESSOR ZHENG LIANG Jinan University "When western newspapers frame Xinjiang, they tend to use frames of conflict, tension, oppression, and suppression. All of those are negative frames. In this case I think the ordinary audience tends to be influenced by these negative frames, which are constructed by western newspapers."
In Professor Zheng's study, the four western newspapers construct Xinjiang as a "Uyghur region", ignoring the fifty five other native ethnic groups who live there. Han victims of various terror attacks in Xinjiang are mostly ignored. And if not, they are portrayed as "accomplices" of government "oppression" against the Uyghurs.
AIERKEN SHAMUSHAKE Deputy Director of School of Law, Xinjiang University "Terrorism is not only directed against a certain country or nation, it's the enemy of all human beings. In the past 20 years, all cases of terrorism show it isn't aimed at a specific nation or ethnic group. We can see from relevant videos that casualties include Han Chinese as well as Uyghurs, and other ethnic groups."
XI JIA Geneva "The study shows how ethnic and religious policies from the Chinese government are always framed as 'interfering in freedom' in western coverage. But what exactly is this definition of the word 'freedom', and what results could it bring to Xinjiang and the world? The loss is maybe too much of a risk to take. Xi Jia, CGTN, Geneva, Switzerland."
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