The global response to “genocide” of Muslim minorities in China, explained

This appeared in The Millennial Source

The US State Department has estimated that more than two million Chinese Muslims have been detained in “re-education camps.” Detainees at the camps have stated that they have been subjected to physical and emotional abuse, forced sterilization, ideological indoctrination and other abuses.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is a “doomsday clown” according to Hua Chunying, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. That label was in response to the United States’ declaration that China’s treatment of Muslim minority groups in the country constituted genocide.

Hua said of Pompeo that “This American politician, who is notorious for lying and deceiving, is turning himself into a doomsday clown and joke of the century with his last madness and lies of the century.”

This was the final bout of the contentious relationship between the administrations of US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Beijing is notoriously sensitive when it comes to accusations of human rights abuse and has insisted that its policies in Xinjiang are vocational and designed to extinguish the potential for Islamic terrorism from its Muslim minority.

In its final months in power, the Trump administration was eager to highlight what it believed to be Chinese abuses and pressed Beijing on issues ranging from Xinjiang to Hong Kong to the spread and origin of COVID-19.

China has denied all accusations.

The US State Department has estimated that more than two million Chinese Muslims have been detained in “ re-education camps.” Detainees at the camps have stated that they have been subjected to physical and emotional abuse, forced sterilization, ideological indoctrination and other abuses.

Outside the camps, human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of destroying Uighur cultural monuments, mosques and increasing surveillance in the Xinjiang region which is vital to the success of the Belt and Road Initiative. The decision between opposition, acquiescence and acceptance of Beijing’s narrative appears to be drawn along strategic and economic lines

The loudest advocates for the Muslim minority in China have come from the West. Beijing has been remarkably successful at preventing criticism from Muslim states in Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Some have even gone so far as to endorse Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang.

On the flip side, 22 nations have signed a letter asking Beijing to close the camps in Xinjiang while the European Parliament has adopted a resolution condemning labor practices in the camps. Meanwhile, the British government has stated that it will fine companies that conceal connections to Xinjiang and the US has banned the importation of cotton products from the region.

However, not everyone has been eager to join the US in labeling Beijing’s policies toward the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested the term “genocide” to be a legal one best decided by the courts, though he still expressed his disapproval of Beijing’s actions.

Many Muslim-majority nations appear to have sided with Beijing in the controversy.

A joint statement signed by 37 nations including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Syria and Pakistan endorsed Beijing’s policies against “the grave challenge of terrorism and extremism” through “a series of counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers.”

Turkey is among those who have faced criticism for its stance toward Xinjiang. Uighurs are ethnic relatives of Turks and many would have expected Ankara to take a harder line with Beijing in defense of their ethnic kin.

However, Ankara also appears closer to Beijing’s stance on Xinjiang and Turkey has even been accused of agreeing to deport Uighur Muslims to China in exchange for shipments of COVID-19 vaccines.

Likewise, many Central Asian governments have also been criticized for remaining silent on the issue.

When Pompeo visited Central Asia with the intention of discussing the “Chinese Communist Party’s repression of Uighur Muslims, Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang,” the Uzbek foreign minister responded by saying “we would really not like to feel on ourselves the unfavorable political consequences related to the competition in our region between large powers.”

Central Asian nations like Kazakhstan are the closest ethnic relatives of China’s Muslim population, many of whom are themselves ethnic Kazakhs.

But Beijing’s tensions with Washington may not end with the Trump administration.

In what can be seen as evidence of growing bipartisan support for a more combative stance with Beijing, newly sworn-in Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that he agrees with designating the situation in Xinjiang as genocide.

Secretary Blinken also stated that he viewed China as the greatest threat to the US and suggested that while he disagreed with many of the Trump administration’s tactics toward China, he still believes it was correct to take a stronger stance against the Asian nation.

Originally published at https://themilsource.com on February 1, 2021.

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