April 2, 2020

How China Gets Away with Ethnic Cleansing

“The New York Times’ weekend exposé, based on hundreds of pages of leaked Communist Party documents, details the planning and deliberations behind the mass detention in reeducation camps of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province, most of them members of the Uighur ethnic group. The article by Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley documents President Xi Jinping’s belief that Islamic radicalism is akin to a “virus” that could only be cured through “a period of painful, interventionary treatment.”

In one of the more chilling passages, officials are instructed on how to speak to family members of detained people who return from other parts of China. They are to be told their relatives are receiving “training” in order to educate them about the dangers of extremism, and while they have not broken the law, they are not allowed to leave. They are to be told that their families should “treasure this chance for free education that the party and government has provided to thoroughly eradicate erroneous thinking, and also learn Chinese and job skills.” They are also warned that there’s a point scoring system to determine when detainees can be released and that their families’ behavior can affect their score.

Ominous as these details are, we should have seen this coming. The international community has known about abuses of the Uighurs for some time now. Survivor accounts and satellite imagery detail the extent of the detentions, surveillance, and curtailment of religious freedom that Muslims in Xinjiang are being subjected to. The U.N. has condemned China, as have senior U.S. officials including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The U.S. has placed visa restrictions and sanctions on a number of officials and entities believed to be involved with the repression of the Uighurs.”

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