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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Uyghurs – An issue of security or an issue of race?

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Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.

The West lays a number of charges against China. Let’s look at the list; With the new Security Law in Hong Kong China is riding roughshod over Hong Kong’s historic freedom and democracy; China threatens its neighbours with military force; China is racist in its dealings with the Uyghurs; China plans to retake Taiwan by force within seven years; China will attack India’s border defences; China roams the S China Sea and intimidates all its neighbours; China pursues its Belt and Road Initiative in order to force into debt and bankruptcy countries in receipt of Chinese investment so that China can seize their assets and grow its wealth; China has spies everywhere – in the universities, in the diplomatic corps, among its business people. The list is endless. Nowhere is safe. The world is under attack. 

If you buy into this narrative you will be in favour of a “de-coupling” of the world from China. You will support tariffs, and trade barriers, and a policy of economic isolation and even military strikes. China is the Enemy. China needs to be put in its place.

If you were a historian who had studied the rise and fall of Empires you would view matters quite differently. The US is a fading Empire. Its best days were in the last century. It has peaked but it will not leave the stage quietly. Imperialisms cling to their past glories and do not go down without a fight. Or take it back to the theories of Mao Tsetung and in particular On Contradiction. At any moment in history, leading powers compete and co-operate. They vie with each other for supremacy and the fight has moments of violence and moments of diplomacy. China has seen the present coming since 1949. Then the US and the USSR were locked in combat. China was the Sick Man of Asia. But things are always changing. They never standstill. China – despite the failings of the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmin deaths – has flourished and developed. It has examined and reviewed and experimented. Today China is on the ascendancy. The USSR is no more and the US is struggling – in his recent book Has China Won, Prof Mahbubani cites statistics to show that in the last thirty years the US is the only developed society where the average income of the bottom 50 percent of the population have fallen. There is a context for the present US-China tensions and the issues cited in the opening paragraph above are just a manifestation of a much deeper trend and development – the US is going down and People’s Republic of China is going up.

One of the issues is China’s treatment of the Uyghurs. China’s critics repeat the same mantra – China is a racist state. The Han majority hate the Uighur minority in the same way they hate the Tibetan minority. The Han amount to 85 percent of the nation and they seek to impose themselves on each of the fifty-five national minorities. The racial instincts of the Han are reinforced by the political ambitions of the Communist Party to dominate everywhere in China. The racism of the Han and the pursuit of power by the Party form a nexus of power which explains China’s present oppression of the Uyghurs. 

In truth it is nothing to do with race – it is quite simply a matter of security and territorial integrity which are the same two issues that explain China’s policy on the Indian border, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the S China Sea and the growth of the Chinese navy.

To understand China’s policy in Xingang consider the parlous state of Chechnya – a province of the old USSR brought to ruin by Muslim extremists who sought to seize power in the same way Muslim extremists seek to create an independent state of Xingang. This is an issue of politics and power and not an issue of racism. Muslim extremists have perpetrated violence in the province of Xingang for many years but when they took their violence to the centre of Beijing they challenged the Chinese state. Arrest and imprisonment had not worked. China needed a different approach – internment +++. China has decided to attack the mindset of Muslim thinking and has deprived large numbers of people of their freedom and compelled them to undergo re-education which seeks to eliminate all thoughts of Muslim extremism. The Western world howls in anguish at the actions of the Chinese government and lurid reports of maltreatment have helped to mobilise feeling against China. One of my goals is to look more closely into these issues. Are they true? Or Are they, as I expect to conclude, propaganda designed to show China in the worst light – part of the US inspired anti-China policy.

There is one further point; the Western media often highlights the lack of critical comment from countries with Muslim governments. If Muslims are being treated so badly by an oppressive and race inspired Chinese government then why are those countries with Muslim majorities and Muslim governments not more outspoken and critical of China. The media will tell you that they have been bribed by Belt and Road. China’s largesse and the Muslim countries economic needs have come together to buy the silence of Muslim governments. Actually, there is a far more compelling explanation – the Muslim governments want China to be successful in destroying Muslim militancy because the governments are themselves fearful of Muslim extremism in their own countries. China’s confrontation with Muslim extremism in Xingang is welcomed by Muslim governments throughout the world.

The Uyghurs issue is just one issue that the West uses to damage and dismantle the growing popularity of China. China is popular because its policies work – 500m people have been removed from poverty. In 2019, 137m Chinese tourists travelled overseas and all came home – none sought asylum. China works for the Chinese – consider where China was in 1949 and see where she is today and you begin to realise why developing countries want more and not  less of China. The Chinese do not look at the West and wish they had Western democracy. Now that is a subject for another article

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