November 19, 2019

Xinjiang Abuses Exposed

Last Saturday, The New York Times released “more than 400 pages of internal Chinese documents [that] provide an unprecedented inside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.” New York Times

Both sides condemn China and call for a forceful response:

The echo of ‘1984,’ ‘Brave New World’ or ‘Fahrenheit 451’ is unmistakable. But this is not dystopian fiction… The existence of these re-education camps has been known for some time, but nothing before had offered so lucid a glimpse into the thinking of China’s bosses under the fist of Mr. Xi, from the obsessive determination to stamp out the ‘virus’ of unauthorized thought to cynical preparations for the pushback to come, including how to deal with questions from students returning to empty homes and untended farms…

“The Chinese government made no effort to deny the leaked documents, but rather portrayed the crackdown in Xinjiang as a major success against terrorism and accused The Times of smearing China’s ‘antiterrorism and de-extremism capabilities.’ What the documents really reveal is not an effective antiterrorism campaign, but rather the paranoia of totalitarian leaders who demand total fealty in thought and deed and recognize no method of control other than coercion and fear… [The whistleblower’s] brave action is a cry to the world. International outrage could turn that into a wake-up call for China’s leaders, despite their totalitarian swagger, if the world begins to see them as pariahs, not just trading partners. The whistle-blower, and the untold thousands of Chinese Muslims suffering under the yoke of Mr. Xi, deserve that.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

“Mr. Xi has tried to consolidate his power and build a cult of personality, and his repression of the Uighurs fits that pattern. But the leaked documents suggest there is internal dissent in Beijing’s corridors of power that could grow and challenge Mr. Xi if his Uighur repression begins to carry international costs. The same applies to a crackdown in Hong Kong. So far, however, the West has been largely silent, and Muslim countries are worse. A good start would be to put Xinjiang and Hong Kong on the public agenda of all world forums involving Chinese leaders. China will try to intimidate into silence countries that depend on its money and trade, but that’s no excuse for Western leaders, the World Bank or United Nations… Chinese leaders care about world opinion, and they need to hear that the world will not ignore their abuses against the Uighurs."
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“China’s Communists would repress its people regardless of what we do, but our open and extensive economic ties finance the regime’s power… We had hoped the regime would liberalize once it saw how rich it could become by becoming more Western. Instead, open economic ties enrich its economy while Western governments turn a blind eye to the terrors the government perpetuates. Carrots have not worked. If we want China to liberalize, and if we want to reduce its potential threat to our way of life, we need to start looking at using sticks…

“China’s government needs rapid economic growth to further its power and ambitions. Its people have become used to capitalist comforts. Any slowing of that growth would raise the potential for discontent and unrest among the Chinese themselves. It should be U.S. policy to slow that growth and thereby force the Chinese government to choose between freedom and repression, between guns and butter.”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

Dated but relevant: “The UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination has called Xinjiang a ‘no rights zone’ amid the mass detention of several million ethnic and religious minorities… Many foreign companies appear to be benefiting from this. By one estimate nearly half of Europe’s 150 largest companies have some presence in Xinjiang. The region accounts for 84% of Chinese cotton production, as pointed out in a recent CSIS study. China is the world’s largest cotton exporter, accounting for 26% of global exports…

“The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights calls on businesses to prevent and mitigate the actual and potential human rights abuses associated with their business practices. Because of the potential for gross human rights abuses of doing business in Xinjiang, all foreign companies there should end their business partnerships… It is time for a global blacklist on all goods produced or manufactured in Xinjiang.”
Michael Caster, The Guardian

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“The global response to the detention of up to 1 million people in concentration camps on the basis of religion, a systematic attempt to wipe out a cultural identity that verges on cultural genocide… feels fairly muted. Few companies or organizations are boycotting China. In two years, the Beijing winter Olympics are likely to go off without a hitch. The U.S. response is undermined by the fact that the officials drawing attention to the camps do not include President Donald Trump…

This is more than just a China problem… President Bashar al-Assad now appears virtually guaranteed to remain in power in Syria. India has faced little pressure over its crackdown in Kashmir. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are being urged by local authorities to repatriate back to Myanmar, where they face grisly violence that spurred them to leave in the first place… If other governments in the future are tempted to use mass violence against civilians or ethnic cleansing as a means to combat terrorism or extremism, there’s no reason to believe they’ll face serious condemnation, much less serious consequences.”
Joshua Keating, Slate

Dated but relevant: “The sexual violence against and forced sterilization of Uighur women and removal of Uighur children constitute crimes against humanity. So why isn’t the international community taking a stand?… Even if the camps are disbanded, China’s gendered policies would remain. In addition to demanding that the Chinese government close the internment camps, the U.S. government — and the rest of the world — must insist that the government end the abuse of Uighur women as well.”
Elizabeth M. Lynch, Washington Post

From the Right

“Why is this not the biggest story in the world now? Why are the Muslim countries — the Arab ones, as well as Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia — so silent about it? Is it because of that sweet, sweet Beijing cash? Or do they just not care?... No one can plausibly begrudge Beijing its desire to stop Islamic extremism. But the Chinese Communists are eradicating an ancient culture and a religion from the face of the earth in Xinjiang province. And the world just stands by watching, because China is rich and powerful enough to get away with it.”
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

“The leak of the papers shows there is at least some resistance inside China to what is being done to Muslims in Xinjiang, but I suspect there is a mole hunt taking place today to root out and punish whoever leaked this. For that person’s sake, I hope they covered their tracks well…

“It’s hard to overstate what a nightmare this must be for the people on the receiving end and their families, but also for some of the people tasked with administering this program. I doubt the people doing the ‘teaching’ in these camps want to be doing it either but they have no say. There is no room in a one-party system for differences of opinion once the leader has spoken. Finally, it needs to be said that this is what it looks like when the left goes too far. This is the leftist project come to complete fruition: The collective good (as determined by the party) taking precedence over the rights of every individual. And it’s not some fringe system happening in a small corner of the world, it’s the system currently running the world’s most populous country with more than four times the population of the United States.”
John Sexton, Hot Air

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