Jefferson Morley | April 10, 2019
China & the Uighurs: The Orwellian Future Arrives With Western Help
The appalling story of how China is suppressing the Uighurs (pronounced “We-Gurs”), a non-Chinese ethnic group, is one of the most undercovered stories of the day.
I too have neglected this mind-boggling story, an error I plan to correct in the weeks and months ahead with more coverage of the plight of the Uighurs and the actions of China’s Ministry of State Security.
The scale of the China’s social engineering is vast. The Uighurs are a Turkic people who have more in common with the people of the “stan” country’s of Central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan etc) than with the Han people of China.
China regards their ethnic identity as a threat to the Chinese nation and is seeking to extinguish it.
Here’s Azeem Ibrahim, analyst for the independent Center for Global Policy.
This is not a haphazard effort to contain a potentially rebellious borderland minority. It is a systematic use of cultural reprogramming based on an ostensibly scientific “theory of social stability,” in the words of some of the architects of the anti-Uighur program.
The components of the repressive system will be familiar to anyone who has read George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
In Xinjiang, China is carrying out the most dramatic “re-education” program since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Of the 10-11 million native Uighurs in the province, 800,000 to 2 million are believed to be interned in re-education camps. These are detention camps where inmates are subject to an intense program of indoctrination that erases all aspects of their identity related to Islam and/or their Turkic ethnicity and replaces them with an identity centered around the communist ideology of the state.
What distinguishes China’s actions, Ibrahim writes
is the widespread use of technology to surveil individuals, to control their movements, and to overwhelm their informational environment. For example, just one leaked facial-recognition database showed that officials monitored the movements of more than 2.5 million Uighurs. Western commentators have spoken of China’s online “Social Credit” system of rewarding citizens according to their social “trustworthiness” as a potential precursor to Orwellian surveillance. In Xinjiang, that kind of surveillance state already exists, with the help of many technologies that China sources from the West.
What Is To be Done?
Ibrahim admits the world has little ability to intervene on behalf of the Uighurs. He recommends:
U.S. lawmakers should block all U.S. technology firms from providing surveillance technology to the Chinese government. Second, with Chinese authorities coercing governments to forcibly repatriate Uighur family members to China, the United States should grant special protected status and fast track asylum claims within the United States. Finally, in light of the scale of the challenge, Washington must establish the role of U.S. Special Coordinator for Xinjiang within the State Department to manage all efforts to respond to the situation.