Together with restrictions on halal meals, Islamic costume, and normal religiosity, the continuing crackdown has primarily affected the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group who traditionally have been the bulk within the area.
Chinese language International Ministry spokesman Lu Kang defended current measures at a press briefing Thursday, saying “taking measures to forestall and crack down on terrorism and extremism have helped protect stability, in addition to the life and livelihood of individuals of all ethnicities in Xinjiang.”
Whereas the methods Beijing is taking are new — and embrace a state-of-the-art surveillance regime — they echo a longtime paranoia about Xinjiang and a deep suspicion of its non-Han inhabitants amongst China’s rulers which have traditionally resulted in oppression and riot.
Whereas the East Turkestan independence actions (and their successors in the present day) have been largely based mostly on ethnonationalist arguments a couple of homeland for Turkic-speaking Uyghurs, because the flip of the millennium Beijing’s chief concern has been the potential unfold of radical Islam within the area, and the alleged affect of worldwide terrorist organizations.
This was regardless of there being such little data obtainable on ETIM on the time or proof supporting Beijing’s claims that some overtly questioned whether or not it existed as a coherent group in any respect.
Even because the authorities have been targeted on Islamic terrorism, the most important unrest in Xinjiang in recent times appeared to don’t have anything to do with faith.
Web entry to all of Xinjiang, together with worldwide cellphone and textual content messaging providers, was lower off for nearly a yr within the wake of the violence.
Because the 2009 violence — which got here shortly after unrest in Tibet — restrictions on the lives of odd Uyghurs in Xinjiang have elevated, even because the area to criticize and push for different insurance policies has narrowed.
The area has a mess of issues deserving of dialogue past safety and ethnic unrest. Xinjiang is considered one of China’s poorest areas, and growth has lagged different elements of the nation. Uyghurs and different minorities complain of discrimination in employment and training, and corruption is rife inside state-controlled industries that proceed to dominate the native financial system.
More and more nonetheless, any criticism of those points — notably something which touches on ethnic or spiritual issues — is solid as advocating for independence or looking for to undermine the federal government.
No manner out
Beijing’s paranoia about terrorism and separatism in Xinjiang is actual and comprehensible.
However regardless of quite a few warnings about this leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy, the authorities’ response has solely been to crack down more durable and limit Muslim life additional.
This narrative has been used to justify not solely restrictions on Islam, however the large securitization of Xinjiang, with armed police manning checkpoints throughout cities, surveillance cameras all over the place, and residents unable to go away the area.
That method reached its zenith prior to now yr with the increasing community of “re-education camps,” the place predominantly Uyghur internees are pressured to attend “anti-extremist ideological” courses and their conduct — notably spiritual conduct — is tightly managed.
“Detentions are extra-legal, with no authorized illustration allowed all through the method of arrest and incarceration,” in line with the World Uyghur Congress, a Germany-based umbrella group for the Uyghur diaspora, which not too long ago submitted proof to the United Nations concerning the camps.
Whereas the Chinese language authorities initially pushed again towards these claims — saying “Xinjiang residents together with the Uyghurs get pleasure from equal freedoms and rights” — the obvious acknowledgment and legalization of the camps this week, in addition to rising dialogue of the difficulty in state media, signifies Beijing could also be doubling down on its insurance policies in Xinjiang within the face of rising worldwide condemnation.
Chinese language International Ministry spokesman Lu rejected US criticism at an everyday press briefing Thursday, saying folks had “been creating lies and launching baseless accusations on the acceptable counter-terrorism measures taken by the Xinjiang authorities.”
Simply as in Hong Kong, the place China’s heavy-handed method arguably impressed help for independence, Beijing is left with an issue that it created, however one which perversely justifies its earlier method.
Charting another path of reconciliation and respect for human rights would require a subtlety in coping with dissent that Xi’s administration has up to now not proven proof of.