Based on a handful of think tank reports and witness testimonies, Western governments have levied false allegations of genocide and slavery in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. A closer look makes clear that the politicization of China’s anti-terrorism policies in Xinjiang is another front of the U.S.-led hybrid war on China. This resource compilation provides a starting point for critical inquiry into the historical context and international response to China’s policies in Xinjiang, providing a counter-perspective to misinformation that abounds in mainstream coverage of the autonomous region.
by Qiao Collective
The waning of the severity of extremist violence in Xinjiang by 2017 coincided with elevated antagonisms in the U.S.-China relationship. The Trump Administration’s inaugural National Security Strategy document identified China as a strategic threat to U.S. power, setting the stage for ongoing trade, tech, and ideological attacks on China. During this time, the U.S. raised the issue of Xinjiang in international bodies and federal legislation as part of its efforts to isolate China on the world stage.
Part 5 - The Seeds of Controversy (2017-Aug 2018)
2017 March 6 – President Donald Trump signs Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” or “Travel Ban 2.0,” superseding EO 13769 issued on January 27, 2017. It originally banned the entry of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—all Muslim-majority countries. This was all done quickly after President Trump assumed his post on January 20, 2017, after fervently advocating a “Muslim Ban” during his candidacy.
2017 March 14 – Zenz joins the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief and continues his pivot to Xinjiang, initially focusing on the securitization of Xinjiang. Interestingly, Adrian Zenz’s March 14th, 2017 article was considered a “fair assessment,” if biased, by Ian Goodrum, writer and digital editor for China Daily, indicating that there may have been a time Adrian Zenz did not feel as clearly “led by God” on a mission against China, as he indicated on May 21, 2019.
2017 March 29 – The 12th Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region passes the “Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations” (Chinese-language text). Contemporary mainstream media’s focused criticisms on the “ban on long beards, veils” (Al-Jazeera) articulated in Article 9 of the original Regulations and not on Article 14, which outlined education and psychological counseling as part of de-radicalization work.
2017 May 11 – Syrian ambassador tells China that up to 5000 ethnic Uyghurs were fighting in various militant groups in Syria.
2017 June 1 – China releases the white paper “Human Rights in Xinjiang - Development and Progress.”
2017 August 1 – WUC begins activism and writing on “internment camps,” citing April and May as the first months of detainment of Uyghur citizens. Sporadic reporting include:
September 10, 2017 Human Rights Watch report alleging “thousands” of detainees. Interestingly, Human Rights Watch reported that “State media in Xinjiang, including the Xinjiang Daily, have reported on these facilities,” which would seem to contradict Reuters’ later 2018 headline that the facilities were “secret.”
January 22, 2018 Radio Free Asia report claims “around 120,000” detainees based on information provided by an anonymous source from Chasa Township (possibly 恰萨美其特乡).
February 28, 2018 Foreign Policy article by a “Special Correspondent” on “A Summer Vacation in China’s Muslim Gulag.”
March 13, 2018 Newsweek Japan article (Japanese-language) by Naoko Mizutani (Japanese researcher previously barred from China for her support of Rebiya Kadeer) reporting “890,000 or more” detainees based on an unverified “leak” by Istiqlal TV (Uyghur-language, “leaked information” at 3:14), a Turkey-based media platform advocating for separatism from China. Also runs the English-language Turkistan Times.
As an aside, Rebiya Kadeer has also previously visited the Yasukuni Shrine on May 14th, 2012. The Yasukuni Shrine honors, among others, 1068 war criminals, including 14 Class A war criminals, as ruled by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.
2017 September – Presumably around this time, Rushan Abbas founds the Campaign for Uyghurs.
On November 12, 2017, Dolkun Isa takes Rebiya Kadeer’s place as President of the World Uyghur Congress. Although Kadeer said, “It is time for the younger generation to take up the leadership role at the WUC,” Isa seems to have been involved in diaspora Uyghur organizations longer than she has, at least overtly (since at least 1996 for Isa and since at least 2005 for Kadeer).
Similarly, Omer Kanat sometime in 2017 took up both the Chairman of the World Uyghur Congress Executive Committee and Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
2018 April 26 – Mike Pompeo, former Director of the CIA and notoriously proud of lying, cheating, and stealing, assumes office as Secretary of State, heralding a new era of rapidly deteriorating U.S.-China relations.
Prior to assuming the post of the United States’ foremost diplomat, Pompeo had a long and distinguished history of being a relentless Islamophobe. Among other instances, he declared that “silence [in condemning the 2013 Boston bombings] has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit.”
2018 May 15 – Zenz starts to fix his eyes on Xinjiang’s de-radicalization program and criticizes education as de-radicalization work authorized by Article 14 of the Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations. Between “several hundred thousand and just over one million” detainees are “estimate[d]” from “information from various sources...”, citing specifically Naoko Mizutani’s Newsweek Japan article.
2018 May 29 – The United States Department of State, Office of International Religious Freedom releases the 2017 Report on International Religious Freedom. Its report on China raises concerns that “human rights groups and others reported hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims… forcibly sent to re-education camps...”
2018 August 3 – Chinese Human Rights Defenders publishes a report “China: Massive Numbers of Uyghurs & Other Ethnic Minorities Forced into Re-education Programs.” This is the report taking eight anonymous interviewees and extrapolating 1 million incarcerated (or even up to 3 million) from their unverified statements.