Monday 30 September 2019
Saturday 28 September 2019
China’s repressive reach is growing
Ethnic Uighur demonstrators hold portraits of family members they say have gone missing during a demonstration against China in Istanbul on Feb. 23. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)
By Editorial Board
September 28 at 6:37 am Taiwan Time
IT’S ONE thing to know that China runs a far-flung system of detention camps for Muslim Uighurs, a fact of which the world has been aware for the past two years. It’s quite another to see that system in operation. And now we have that kind of visual evidence, in the form of a clandestinely recorded video showing hundreds of Uighur men, handcuffed and gripped by armed guards, being marched through a train station in their native region of Xinjiang. The video has been authenticated by Nathan Ruser, a satellite analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a government-supported think tank. Mr. Ruser said it was made in mid-2018 and depicts the transfer of prisoners from one center, in Kashgar, on China’s far western border, to a new facility near Korla, 600 miles deeper into the Chinese interior. Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, called the newly released images “deeply disturbing,” and they certainly are that — as well as a powerful counter to the Beijing government’s claims that it is merely offering Uighurs educational and job-training opportunities to de-radicalize a population prone to terrorism.
Actually, China is engaged in a wide-ranging effort to root out and crush the ancient culture of the Uighurs, who are ethnically Turkic and religiously Muslim. In addition to mass detention, the means employed include arrests, torture and disappearance of political and cultural leaders, as well as technological surveillance of the general population. Xinjiang has always been a “restive” province, loath to submit to domination and colonization by the remote Communist Party authorities in Beijing. But the systematic crackdown occurring now goes well beyond what past isolated acts of anti-government violence might possibly justify.
Indeed, President Xi Jinping seems bent on ending or at least limiting any independent commitment to a belief system other than the one embodied in official Communist Party propaganda. His government’s next target appears to be the 10-million-member Muslim Hui minority, who live not in Xianjiang but in Gansu province, and who have no particular record of separatism or extremism. As The Post’s Gerry Shih reports, government agents have begun purging the Huis’ region of visible symbols of Islam, such as mosque domes and minarets. Arabic script signage has been banned in public spaces, as have sales of the Koran. Some liken what’s happening to the anti-religious frenzies of the Cultural Revolution, but Mr. Xi enforces ideological conformity bureaucratically, not via Red Guard mobs.
China’s systematic anti-Muslim campaign, and accompanying repression of Christians and Tibetan Buddhists, may represent the largest-scale official attack on religious freedom in the world. Other governments must not remain silent. The Trump administration’s condemnations have ebbed and flowed, depending on President Trump’s interest in courting Mr. Xi for trade concessions. Mr. Trump is not alone: Many Western countries’ economic interests dictate their China policies.
There was a welcome moment of U.S. toughness on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, however, when the United States led more than 30 countries, along with nongovernmental organizations, in condemning what a State Department official called the “horrific campaign of repression.” Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations’ top human rights official, is demanding unrestricted access to China. She should get it but probably won’t, because, when it comes to China’s official cover stories, seeing is disbelieving.
Friday 27 September 2019
James Politi in Washington and Peter Wells in New York
The Trump administration is considering aggressive steps to limit financial investments between the US and China, which would represent an escalation in the trade war ahead of a new round of negotiations between the countries next month. According to people familiar with the matter, Donald Trump’s advisers are weighing measures including stopping Chinese companies from listing on US exchanges, and curbing the ability of US government pension funds to make investments in Chinese equities. An expansion of the US economic conflict into the arena of capital markets has long been pushed by China hawks in Washington, particularly Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, and like-minded officials within the administration. However, it has been resisted by other Trump advisers who fear that it could deal a fresh blow to markets and undermine investor confidence. The Trump administration’s move to actively consider cutting the ties binding China to Wall Street was reported by Bloomberg on Friday, prompting a sharp drop in the shares of New York-listed Chinese companies and a weakening of the renminbi. Alibaba was down 4.2 per cent and Baidu dropped 1.7 per cent. The depository receipts of Tencent and online retailer JD.com were down 1.6 per cent and 3.4 per cent, respectively. China’s renminbi, traded in offshore foreign exchange markets outside the mainland, weakened by as much as 0.4 per cent — a sizeable move for the currency — as the news broke. It tempered that decline to be 0.2 per cent softer at 7.1372 per US dollar. After a flurry of tariff escalations rattled markets in August, US and Chinese officials have been exploring ways to reduce tensions ahead of next month’s new round of negotiations, with Beijing moving to boost its purchases of US farm goods in a gesture of goodwill towards Washington. Potential limits would also come in the wake of China’s decision this month it would scrap caps on foreign investors purchases of domestic stocks and bonds. Action by the Trump administration could therefore stymie the potential flow of international capital into the Asian country.