Burqa is the "garment of extremism," not ethnic minority costume nor Muslim clothes, a senior government official in Xinjiang said at a press conference of the State Council Information Office on Thursday.
"We Uyghur people don't like to see women wear such kinds of clothes either, and by covering the eyes, the burqa represents some kind of backwardness," Shewket Imin, an official of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee of the Communist Party of China, said at the press conference on Thursday, where a white paper on Xinjiang's decades of development was also released.
Shewket said there are problems involving people using burqas to hide their identity, citing men who wear female burqas to abduct children.
"Wearing burqas is not required to fulfill religious freedom, nor a tradition for Uyghurs or Muslims," Xu Jianying, a research fellow from the Research Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the policy on religious freedom has been implemented together with the policy on ethnic regional autonomy. The democratic reform of the religious system and law-based management of religious affairs have helped the harmonious coexistence among different religions in Xinjiang, read the white paper.
Xinjiang currently has 24,800 venues for religious activities, including mosques, churches, Buddhist temples and Taoist temples with 29,300 clerical practitioners, said the white paper.
Xinjiang officials have been very supportive with numerous commemorative activities during Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, added Shewket.
During Ramadan, Xinjiang authorities offered around 1,000 tons of fresh mutton through nearly 200 sales outlets in 39 counties administered by 11 prefectures and cities, reported the Xinhua News Agency. In the regional capital Urumqi, over 40,000 Muslim residents had meals at the mosque every night.
While pursuing the policy of religious freedom and protecting normal religious activity, authorities have worked hard against extremism to ensure peace and security, and effectively prevented the spread of religious extremism, the white paper said.
"Religious extremists have taken advantage of religious freedom to twist and politicize some religious doctrines," said Xu.
The battle against religious extremists and terrorism is global, which has safeguarded the interests of believers, he added.
Li Wei, a security expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that 95 percent of terrorist activities in Xinjiang have been aborted, a significant improvement in anti-terrorism efforts.
Li said civilians should not be fooled by propaganda from religious extremists.
The central government has invested nearly 1.7 trillion yuan ($266.6 billion) in the region over the past 60 years, and Xinjiang's GDP in 2014 was 115 times higher than in 1955, according to the white paper. Over the past five years, education expenditure has exceeded 250 billion yuan. By 2014, 96.5 percent of the local population had access to radios and 96.9 percent to televisions.