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Visiting diplomats appreciate well-protected culture in Xinjiang

The cultural relics and ethnic identities of Uygurs have been well preserved in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, visiting foreign envoys said Wednesday.

The envoys visited the centuries-old Karez Wells, or subterranean canals, which are regarded as one of China's three greatest projects along with the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. Nearly 2,000 Karez Wells still exist in Xinjiang.

The visitors also went to the Imin Minaret, a pagoda that was built in 1777 devoted to Islam, and the Jiaohe Ruins, an ancient city on the Silk Road. Both are under state-level protection.

Since last year, authorities in Xinjiang have started a 182 million U.S.-dollar renovation of the Karez irrigation system, a program that is intended to improve irrigation and ease the impact of drought. The project will run till 2010.

"The three sites are the historical evidence that people in Xinjiang have long a civilization. They are proof that Xinjiang is not a neglected area," said Sudrajat, Indonesian ambassador to China. "I very much enjoyed seeing the people in the area live stable, prosperous and harmonious life."

"The Imin tower is the symbol of the early stage of Muslim civilization in Xinjiang. People that I talked to appreciate that the central government spent so much money in protecting the heritage," he said. "Indonesia understands that Muslims will be a good bridge between Indonesia and China."

Afghanistan ambassador to China said he appreciated the well-protected culture of the minority, which was very important to a harmonious society.

"We are happy to see the improved daily life of the minority in Xinjiang which is so close to our culture," he said.

The envoys visited the family of Mahmut, sitting around tables with grapes and enjoying the performance of the hosts.

Murat Salim Esenli, Turkish ambassador to China, stood up to join the dance of Qeyser Ay, a ten-year-old daughter of Mahmut. The fourth-grade student then became the spotlight under the cameras of the diplomats.

The Chinese government is keen on preserving the ethnic identities and culture of the minorities. If these are well preserved, the tensions between the ethnic groups would be eliminated, he said.

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