EDITORIAL: China’s other victims need support

Sat, Aug 25, 2018 - Page 8

As Beijing steps up its efforts to strip Taiwan of its diplomatic allies and bolster its “one China” claims, the government should be speaking out more forcefully to remind the world just what Beijing’s vision of a unified China has meant for the millions of Tibetans, Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other ethnic minorities, as well as Chinese Christians, and therefore, what it could mean for 23 million Taiwanese.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was quoted by state media on Wednesday as praising the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda efforts over the past six years for successfully promoting “superior traditional culture” and saying that “cultural self-confidence has been highlighted, national cultural soft power and Chinese cultural influence have been greatly enhanced.”

Just as there is nothing “soft” about the power Beijing has been using against Taiwan or in its efforts to impose Han culture on the people of Tibet and Xinjiang, there was nothing true in Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang’s (陸慷) assertion on Aug. 14 that “people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang cherish the current situation of living and working in peace and happiness.”

While there has been growing unrest in Xinjiang for more than a decade, it is not the result of terror plots by foreign Muslim militants, but of Beijing’s own draconian policies aimed at exterminating the Uighurs’ language, traditions and religious beliefs, as well as its rape of the region’s natural resources and its support for Han migration into the region, as happened in Tibet in the 1980s and 1990s.

The CCP’s inherent paranoia turned its fears raised by the Arab Spring and Muslim extremists’ actions in the Middle East, Africa and the West into rampant Islamophobia, and the result is a massive camp system aimed at “re-educating” the non-Han populace in Xinjiang.

While Lu and other senior party officials were busy last week trying to repudiate claims by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva that 1 million ethnic Uighurs have been or are being held in a “massive internment camp,” a study by Adrian Zenz published in the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief on May 15 provided proof that China has been doing just that.

Zenz showed that there have been Chinese government advertisements of tenders for contracts involving re-education facilities in more than 40 places in Xinjiang since 2016, a large jump from the “transformation through education camps” already in existence.

It is hardly coincidental that in August 2016 Chen Quanguo (陳全國) was moved from his post as CCP secretary of Tibet to the same role in Xinjiang, thanks to his success in the “pacification” of Tibet.

China in 2013 officially abolished its “education through labor” system, the outgrowth of its “reform through labor” program that began in the 1950s. The titles might have changed, but what is going on in Xinjiang shows that nothing else really has.

The former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration of then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was conspicuously silent when reports began to emerge almost a decade ago about clashes between Uighurs and Han immigrants and the Chinese response, apparently for fear that any criticism of Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang — or Tibet or Hong Kong — would hinder its push for cross-strait economic accords.

President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) government should not have any such concerns. No matter what it does, it is sure “to anger China,” as the international media say in almost every story about Taiwan.

It is time the government, lawmakers, political parties and the public became more vocal about condemning Beijing’s actions against all those that it oppresses — not just Taiwan. They should be under no misapprehension that what is happening in Tibet and Xinjiang cannot happen here, no matter who parrots Xi’s “one family” claims.