November 19, 2019

Xinjiang Abuses Exposed

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

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 left supports eliminating the electoral college, arguing that all votes should count equally regardless of which state they're from.

“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

“What’s clear is that Buttigieg is doing well in Iowa mostly because Iowa voters are exactly the kind of people who love Pete Buttigieg: aging, mostly white voters with midwestern sensibilities. The South Bend Mayor is about twice as popular with voters over 65 as he is with voters under 30, according to a recent New York Times/Siena poll, and overwhelmingly favored by white voters over voters of color. Many midwestern moderates are also drawn to his brand of hopeful liberalism… But those strengths don’t necessarily translate outside Iowa… It’s not that black voters in South Carolina necessarily dislikePete Buttigieg—they just don’t likehim. The most typical reaction from the black voters I spoke with during Buttigieg’s most recent swing through South Carolina was resounding indifference: not a sneer, but a shrug.”
Charlotte Alter, Time

But “the biggest question is whether $20.5 trillion is actually a plausible estimate of how much her plan would cost… Estimates from the nonpartisan Rand Corporation, the conservative-leaning Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and the center-left Urban Institute have each placed the 10-year cost of a single-payer plan at $31 trillion to $34 trillion… Reimbursement-rate cuts as big as Warren is envisioning would be extremely politically difficult to pass through Congress—and could lead to hospital closures or service cutbacks if they do… The reality remains that most countries around the world have established and maintained quality universal-health-care systems that cost less than even Warren’s proposal… The problem, of course, is that Warren and other single-payer advocates are not writing on a clean page, but rather seeking to reconfigure an enormously complex structure that consumes one-sixth of the national economy and employs hundreds of thousands of people.”
Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic

Others note that “[Warren] has provided more detail on Medicare financing than Sanders has. She has also provided more overall policy detail, including on the taxes she would raise, than Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg. And her Medicare plan comes much, much closer to paying for itself than various Republican tax cuts. I wish the conservatives complaining about her plan applied the same rigor to their own ideas… The biggest weakness of Warren’s approach is that it tries to bulldoze through the sizable public anxiety about radical changes to the health care system. Warren would not let people opt into Medicare, a wildly popular idea. She would force them to join… she needs to come up with a reassuring transition plan soon.”
David Leonhardt, New York Times

Many note that “Biden’s opposition to [marijuana] legalization… puts him at odds with the great majority of Democrats, 75-plus percent of whom back legalization. Biden’s opposition even puts him at odds with the median Republican, with polls showing that even a majority of Republicans support legalization. Politically, then, legalization should be low-hanging fruit… Yet Biden is not quite there… It’s an especially bad look for Biden. He has a long record of pushing for punitive criminal justice and drug policies — not just supporting but actually writing many of the laws in the 1980s and ’90s that helped shape America’s modern war on drugs. For Biden to hang on to marijuana prohibition, then, just reinforces one of the major concerns that criminal justice reformers like Booker have about him.”
German Lopez, Vox

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right sees Buttigieg and Biden as the winners of the debate, and criticizes the answers on housing and foreign policy.

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

“Even if you think the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was legal… it was not enacted through the notice-and-comment process mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act for issuing regulations — it was just a memo from then-DHS secretary Janet Napolitano ostensibly outlining prosecutorial-discretion guidelines to her three subordinates who handled immigration matters. The idea that a subsequent administration can’t issue a superseding memo without going through notice-and-comment is ludicrous…

Assuming the Court rules in favor of the administration in, say, June 2020 — what then?…

“One possibility might be to stop issuing renewals immediately but let existing work permits continue until they expire, at an average rate of about 1,000 a day. Then call on Congress to finally pass a targeted package that gives DACAs green cards in exchange for, say, mandatory E-Verify (to make it less likely we’ll have DACA situations in the future) and ending the visa lottery (to partly offset the extra legal immigration represented by the amnesty). Alternatively, the White House could punt until after the election: announce that renewals will continue to be processed, but only through the end of 2020, after which work permits will begin expiring, leaving it to the new Congress and the new (or incumbent) president to work out a deal.”
Mark Krikorian, National Review

“Did Bill Taylor deliver the smoking-gun testimony House Democrats need to justify their drive for impeachment? Or did GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe ‘destroy’ the former Ukraine charges d’affaires in two minutes flat, as Nunes claimed last night?… The only way to really know what happened is to see the transcripts, and the serial leaks out of the SCIF make Schiff’s security arguments a bad joke… No one should trust any of these reports until we see the transcripts. In fact, no one should put any confidence in this process until it gets conducted openly, honestly, and fairly. House Republicans might have been conducting a stunt this morning, but the purpose of that stunt is spot-on. The House Democrats’ star-chamber approach is an affront to justice and due process, and their conduct in using selective leaks to goose public opinion from these proceedings is nothing short of despicable.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

It’s worth noting that “conservative ideas were much more popular when not associated with the Republican party. In Washington State, voters narrowly rejected bringing affirmative action back to state contracting and university admissions…

“In Seattle, the self-proclaimed socialist city-council member appears to have lost her seat to a pro-business challenger. In Colorado, voters gave fiscal conservatives a big win by rejecting letting the state keep any tax revenues above the state spending cap, money that the state Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights currently guarantees as refunds to taxpayers. In Sussex County, N.J., voters approved, by a 2-to-1 margin, a referendum directing the local freeholder board to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Washington, Colorado, New Jersey — notice these are places where Republican candidates have had no luck lately.)”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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