How the West Created a False Narrative about Xinjiang

Explore the complex reality of China’s counter-terrorism measures in Xinjiang, as we examine the facts behind allegations of genocide, forced labor allegations, and birth control policies. Dive deeper into the root causes of extremism and the challenges of winning the information war. Discover the nuanced perspectives and the need for transparency in understanding China’s policies and the West’s struggles with terrorism.

The West’s False Narrative on Xinjiang: Ignoring the Real Threat of Terrorism

In 2002, the US and the UN both declared a Uygur militant group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a terrorist organization. The US then considered China a partner in the war on terror. However, when the Trump administration delisted ETIM, it allowed the West to frame China’s anti-terror measures in Xinjiang as ethnic persecution. On March 22, the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on China over alleged human rights violations against the Uygurs, the majority ethnic group in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. It was the latest in a series of escalating moves against Beijing that began on January 19 when then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, on his last day in office, declared that China was committing “ongoing” genocide against the Uygurs. Pompeo offered no evidence. It was reported in Foreign Policy magazine that the State Department’s own lawyers had found “insufficient evidence to prove genocide”. When the Canadian parliament subsequently passed a motion declaring genocide in Xinjiang, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau abstained, calling the term “extremely loaded”. China has retaliated in kind, launching sanctions against European lawmakers and accusing the West of hypocrisy and spreading lies.

What we do not read about in the West is that terrorism was spiralling out of control in Xinjiang and remains a serious threat today. “I used to visit Xinjiang from Hong Kong until a few years ago, for an American firm which had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in two private businesses there. Both employed Uygurs and Han people alike. Those were coveted jobs. On my visits, I was taken to Uygur bazaars, Uygur dinners and Uygur dances, all of which my hosts presented to me with pride. Most officials I met were Uygurs.” – Weijan Shan, Chairperson of PAG.

Starting around 2007, however, it became increasingly dangerous to visit Xinjiang. The region was rocked by a spate of horrific terrorist attacks, resulting in over 1,000 deaths and countless injuries. For example, on July 5, 2009, there was a riot in the capital city of Urumqi; 197 people were hacked, beaten or burned to death and 1,721 were injured. On May 22, 2014, two car bombings in the same city killed 43 people and wounded 94. There were dozens of other attacks. The extreme violence was not just confined to Xinjiang. In 2013, five people died and 38 were injured in a suicide attack by three Uygurs in Beijing. In 2014, a killing spree by eight knife-wielding Uygurs left 31 people dead and 141 wounded at a Kunming railway station. A 2016 study commissioned by the US government noted that, from 2012 to 2014, domestic attacks in China “apparently became more frequent, more geographically dispersed, and more indiscriminately targeted”. The perpetrators, in many cases, were radicalized members of the Uygur ethnic group. The organization that often claimed responsibility for the attacks, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), was described in a Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder as “a Muslim separatist group founded by militant Uygurs”. The backgrounder further noted: “The group and its ties to Muslim fundamentalism have compounded Chinese concerns about the rising threat of terrorism within the country as its restive Western regions faced a spate of terrorist attacks in 2014. …”ETIM has been listed by the State Department as one of the more extreme separatist groups. It seeks an independent state called East Turkestan that would cover an area including parts of Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region…

In summary, the West has been creating a false narrative about Xinjiang, China. They have imposed sanctions on China over alleged human rights violations, but they ignore the fact that terrorism was spiraling out of control in Xinjiang and remains a serious threat today. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) has been listed as a terrorist group by the US and UN, and many of the terrorist attacks that have occurred in Xinjiang were committed by radicalized members of the Uygur ethnic group associated with ETIM. The West’s accusations of human rights violations in Xinjiang are hypocritical and spread lies, while ignoring the real threat of terrorism in the region. Despite the danger, I have personal experience visiting Xinjiang from Hong Kong, where I witnessed the pride and harmony of the Uygur and Han people working together in businesses. The West’s narrative is not accurate, it is important to understand the true situation and the complexity of it.

China’s Counterterrorism Efforts in Xinjiang: Separating Fact from Fiction

The West has been creating a false narrative about Xinjiang, China and its counter-terrorism efforts. As recently as July 2020, the UN identified thousands of Uygur Islamic State fighters in Syria and Afghanistan, operating across China’s porous borders, training alongside the Taliban and Islamic State and returning to Xinjiang to hide among the population, convert young people to their radicalism, and plot and carry out terror attacks. To combat this, China has implemented counter-terrorism measures, including enhanced security and what it calls vocational training and education centers. While there have been allegations of human rights abuses at these centers, there is no proof that these abuses are systematic or ordered from above. It’s worth noting that China’s counter-terrorism campaign has been effective, as there have been no reports of terror attacks since 2017.

In contrast, America’s war on terror has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in various countries, and often without evidence of a connection to September 11 or weapons of mass destruction. On November 5, 2020, two days after the US presidential election, the Trump administration delisted ETIM as a terrorist group, which could be seen as an attempt to undermine China’s counter-terrorism efforts and frame its anti-terror measures as religious and ethnic persecution. However, it’s important to note that China’s policies in Xinjiang are not targeted at a religion or ethnic group, but at extremism. Major Muslim countries understand this and have publicly supported China.

The West’s accusations of human rights violations in Xinjiang are hypocritical and spread lies, while ignoring the real threat of terrorism in the region. The US accuses China of genocide without any evidence, and China has a point when it accuses America of double standards. The Western press should also consider the fact that China has been able to rein in terrorism without inflicting as much collateral damage as the US. It is important to have a nuanced understanding of the situation, and not be swayed by one-sided and sensationalized media coverage.

Examining China’s Population Growth in Xinjiang: Separating Fact from Fiction

Over the past 40 years, the Uygur population in Xinjiang has grown significantly, rising from 5.5 million to more than 12 million between 2010 and 2018. This growth can be attributed to the fact that non-Han ethnic groups, such as the Uygurs, were exempt from China’s one-child policy, which was in effect from 1979 to 2015. Additionally, couples in rural areas were allowed to have up to three children. Despite this, China’s birth control policies are not discriminatory against non-Han ethnic groups. The population growth rate in Xinjiang did decline in 2018, but it was still higher than the national average.

It’s important to note that China has abandoned the one-child policy and the number of newborns has declined since 2016, but it would be misguided to conclude that the Chinese government is committing genocide against its own people based on this trend. Western reports on “genocide” often cite one single source, Adrian Zenz, who is employed by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. His interpretation of data is often different from the original and not accurate. China’s policies are multifaceted, including anti-poverty drive, helping the poor find jobs elsewhere and moving entire villages out of remote areas to more accessible places with electricity. However, data related to such policies was cited by Zenz and others as evidence of “forced labour transfers” and “genocide”.

China’s policies in Xinjiang have been met with criticism, but the situation is complex and not black and white. China’s anti-terror campaign needs to be better explained, and the West needs to take a careful look at its own struggles with terrorism. Addressing the root causes of terrorism, including poverty alleviation, job creation, and education, is necessary for a long-term solution. China should provide transparency and allow foreign press to report on the situation in Xinjiang to dispel rumors and win friends. And to win the information war, China should get the foreign press on its side, otherwise it risks playing into the hands of terrorist organizations and their propaganda machines.

Xinjiang in Context: Understanding China’s Policies and the Fight Against Terrorism

In conclusion, the situation in Xinjiang is complex and multifaceted. While it is important to acknowledge and address any human rights abuses that may be occurring, it is also important to consider the context in which these policies are being implemented. China’s population growth policies, while controversial, were implemented with the intention of promoting ethnic diversity and addressing poverty. Additionally, the country’s counter-terrorism measures, while harsh, have been effective in preventing terrorist attacks in the region. The lack of a free press in China makes it difficult to independently verify the situation in Xinjiang, and the Chinese government should work to increase transparency and allow foreign journalists access to the region. However, the West should also take a careful look at its own struggles with terrorism and consider the root causes of the problem. Overall, it is crucial to approach the issue with a nuanced understanding and consider all available information before making sweeping accusations of genocide.

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