• 2023-11-20
  • Nikos Ioannou
Another China...

To understand the extent and the very multicultural diversity of China, one must travel at least as far as the autonomous region of Xinjiang. From the financial commercial centre of Guangzhou to the Xinjiang capital Urumqi you need about 5.5 hours with an internal flight (3 hours from Beijing).


The difference in temperature between the above regions is about 30-35 degrees Celsius. From 30 degrees to -5 below zero. Xinjiang occupies 1/6 of China's land area. It has an area of 1,150 million square kilometers with a population of 25 million people. The characteristic of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region is its multicultural character, with around 40 ethnic groups living there, the largest being the Uyghur 46%.


The Uyghurs are a Muslim minority living in East and Central Asia with the largest part of them living in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region 80%. Several articles are written on this issue and discussed in some Western media regarding the violation of their human rights. 

The monuments and places of worship of various religions are scattered throughout the country from minarets, Christian churches but also places of worship of Buddha and Taoism. The multi-culturalism and coexistence of many ethnicities has its influence on the physiognomy and characteristics of its inhabitants. Xinjiang has been China's gateway to the outside world, since it has borders with eight countries covering 5,800 km of border. The Silk Road in ancient times had Xinjiang as its starting point. Today, the Silk Road has become China's modern policy of One Belt One Road (OBOR), where in recent years it has transformed China from a moderately prosperous society into a global economic power with the aim in the coming years to become a developed socialist state with Chinese characteristics.

The soil morphology is the other important feature of the region. It is mainly covered by steppes and desert with low rainfall utilizing the water from melting snow falling in winter.  Temperatures can reach from minus 50 degrees Celsius in winter to plus 50 in summer.


The country is developing agricultural production despite the very low rainfall, as it manages to make use of impressive water resource utilisation and irrigation techniques. Because of the low temperatures, crops are preserved during the winter in the earth by covering them with soil. And while the watering and maintenance in winter make growing grapes much more difficult, the results in wine production are amazing as they produce excellent quality wine from various grape varieties.

Xinjiang's economy is certainly not limited to agricultural production, but to mining and the production of natural gas. The use of alternative energy in China is well developed as the use of photovoltaic and other power generation systems is evident, not only in Xinjiang but also throughout the rest of China. On the issue of environmental protection, by comparison the Chinese talk less, but do more. The People’s Republic of China has demonstrably made the greatest contribution to the protection of the natural environment in recent years, making it the largest contributor in this area.

Xinjiang lives somewhat isolated from the rest of China, especially from Europe and the Western world. Of course the principal reason is the long distances. On the part of the US, and less so on the part of the EU, there is an attempt to blame China for violating the human rights of the Uyghurs.  The attitude of the European Parliament (with the exception of the Left Group) and Turkey to the violation of the human rights of the Uyghurs obviously involves political and other considerations and is not substantiated to a degree that would justify any sanctions. The climate is maintained by the "sensitivity" of some Western media. The picture given by some Western media about the standard of living of the citizens and the region in general does not correspond to reality. At least in the area of building development and transport, it cannot be questioned with the naked eye.

The arguments are refuted by the Chinese and Xinjiang authorities for what they are accused of. The Uyghur minority is growing rapidly in terms of its population, much more so than other ethnic groups.

Uyghurs hold high positions in government and other state offices such as the Governor of the region and Mayor of the capital Urumuqi, as well as other important positions. The ceiling for Uyghur support for proportional representation in institutions, positions etc. has been abolished, giving way to capability rather than ethnic discrimination.

The central state and the Communist Party of China still attaches special importance to the Xinjiang autonomous region in recent years by supporting the region financially and otherwise. President Xi Jinping himself recently visited the region, wanting to give support and sending messages in every direction.

Xinjiang attaches great importance to cooperation in investment and trade.  Trade and other cooperation with a number of countries is being undertaken. In June 2024, the 8th Xinjiang Expo is due to take place in the regional capital where several countries and companies from China, Europe and Asia are expected to participate.

Cyprus - Xinjiang

Xinjiang due to its multi-culturalism shows some common characteristics with Cypriot culture, in terms of musical sounds and cuisine.


Xinjiang also attaches importance to the exchange of economic and trade relations with Cyprus. The visit of a large delegation last September led by the Governor of Xinjiang himself, government officials and the Mayor of Urumuqi, is proof of the importance given to a European state like Cyprus.

AKEL attaches great importance to the development of our relations at all levels, the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL Stefanos Stefanou pointed out during a meeting with Governor Aierken Tuniyazi last September.


It was a great honour to be invited by the Governor of Xinjiang to meet with him during my recent visit to China, proof of the importance shown for Cyprus and AKEL by a huge country of global economic stature such as the People's Republic of China. The support of the PRC to date on matters of principle and the principles of international law for the solution of the Cyprus problem remains unwavering.  The need to expand cooperation in the field of economy and investment and trade, require the Cyprus State, the Cyprus Government and the relevant Ministries to further develop relations. The benefit for the Cyprus economy and businesses will be enormous, since this is a huge market.


The Cyprus-China air link would be a huge boost to Cyprus' tourism. In recent years, with the exception of the pandemic years, more than 10 million Chinese travel to Europe every year. Recent surveys indicate that the trend is shifting towards smaller destinations and islands. The air link will also strengthen the area of trade, exports and economic cooperation with China. The one-sided orientation towards NATO-US does not help the Cyprus cause, nor the Cyprus economy. Our relations with the PRC need to be mutual and sincere and not superficial and dependent on the interests of third parties.


(By Nikos Ioannou, Executive Director of WPA (GPO), Member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. and Secretariat of AKEL)