November 19, 2019

Xinjiang Abuses Exposed

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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 believes Sanders’s chances have improved, but notes that obstacles still remain.

“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

“Republicans have successfully maneuvered around the evidence that already exists for removing Donald Trump from office. Their ability to do so probably wouldn’t change even if damning new information came out, but it’s nevertheless in their interest to keep anything new from coming out. That’s why 13 hours were spent on Tuesday rejecting Democratic amendments to subpoena new witnesses and documents at the outset of the trial… The strategy was to block Democrats from obtaining new material, and then to mock their presentation for failing to present any new material. In judging it that way, they elide the crucial question: Whether Donald Trump had admirably discharged his duties as president in the Ukraine affair.”
Jim Newell, Slate

At last night’s debate, Warren “called attention to a recent fundraiser Buttigieg held at a California wine cave. ‘The mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine,’ the Massachusetts senator said…

Buttigieg responded with a slippery claim that he was the only one on stage who wasn’t a millionaire or billionaire. But that’s true only because of his youth. He’s likely to be quite wealthy when he’s the age of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. In fact, as the child of two university professors, Buttigieg grew up wealthier than almost anyone on the stage. Further, pointing to his relative wealth did nothing to address the issue that his fundraising is coming from wealthy donors… If the goal of the other candidates was to sabotage Buttigieg’s campaign, they might have succeeded.”
Jeet Heer, The Nation

“Yes, the Constitution states that public officials may only be impeached for ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ but that phrase had an expansive meaning when it was written into the Constitution… The impeachment power, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, extends to ‘those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.’... As a member of Congress, James Madison argued that a president could be impeached for ‘wanton removal of meritorious officers.’… Trump’s claim that he was improperly impeached is simply wrong.”
Ian Millhiser, Vox

“By declaring that the United States will respond with airstrikes to any attacks on American targets or assets, Mr. Trump is drawing a bright red line that Iran cannot cross. And yet, Iran relies on a network of proxy actors from Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Must they all respect Mr. Trump’s red line? There are plenty of hotheads in those proxy forces that will be incensed by the assassination, the same way young men with weapons and minimal discipline often are… Mr. Trump can’t keep an entire region from crossing his red line, making violent conflict all the more likely if the president holds to it…

“It is crucial that influential Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell remind Mr. Trump of his promise to keep America out of foreign quagmires and keep Mr. Trump from stumbling further into war with Iran.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

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 applauds Trump’s speech and argues that his Iran strategy has been successful.

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

Some argue that “with war on the horizon, we must demand a clear objective for staying, fighting, spending taxpayer dollars and most certainly sending some of our young men and women to their deaths… Iran’s strength is its use of insurgent and terror tactics. America’s strength is our ability to project power. We are fools if we stay in striking distance of Iran, playing to its strengths. U.S. forces are fully capable of striking from afar and crippling Iraq and Iran economically if that become necessary until Iraq decides it wants to join the rest of the world and detach itself from Iran’s axis of ruin. If we keep our roughly 5,000 troops in Iraq – or add more troops – we are likely to be drawn into a war with Iran that will be impossible to withdraw from.”
Joe Kent, Fox News

“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

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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