The Washington Post reports that the Chinese government is scrubbing evidence of its clampdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang amid an international debate as to whether China is committing genocide. The article explains:
As Western governments assess whether the crackdown on Uyghurs and other minorities in China’s Xinjiang region constitutes genocide, Beijing has slowed the information flow from the area to a trickle, obscuring conditions.
The restriction of information — coupled with inaction by intergovernmental organizations — has left individual countries to make determinations as best they can.
Surveillance and censorship have long hindered a full view of conditions in Xinjiang. But last year Beijing locked down borders, citing the coronavirus; expelled foreign journalists who reported on Xinjiang; and scrubbed information off websites across the region.
“Regimes committing these kinds of crimes typically try to prevent damaging information from getting out,” said Deborah Mayersen, an Australian expert on genocide.
China has more than the typical incentive to clamp down on the flow of damaging information. For one thing, the government isn’t just seeking to retain power. It hopes to dominate the world stage.
For another, as the Post notes, evidence of genocide “could galvanize European nations to join the United States in imposing economic sanctions and fuel calls to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.”
It’s not a surprise, then, that China is blocking the flow of information about its treatment of the Uyghurs and other minorities. What may (or may not) be surprising is the degree to which Western “experts” are assisting China in this regard.
Richard Bernstein of RealClearInvestigations has the details. He notes, for example, that when the BBC interviewed several Uighur women who graphically described the horrific treatment they received while detained in one of the concentration camps, John Ross, a British journalist and academic, parroted Chinese government claims that the BBC is largely controlled by the British intelligence service MI5.
This was typical of the way China makes use of Western experts, according to Bernstein:
China often turns to foreign “experts” such as Ross to supply credibility for its persistent complaint that the Western media is “anti-China” and in cahoots with foreign governments, especially the United States. Ross is one of several foreigners, generally attached to Chinese universities or research institutes, who have emerged as apologists for Beijing, especially as it has come under intensifying criticism for its human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and its ever tighter control of opinion across the country.
Bernstein also cites Mario Cavolo, an American identified as a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing which, according to its website, promotes “Chinese wisdom for the world.” Cavolo has said:
More and more foreigners living in China are openly stating that they have more true freedom in today’s China than they do in today’s U.S. or European countries.
The Uighurs were unavailable for comment. The Chinese government made sure of that.
A French writer, Maxime Vivas, describes reports of genocide in Xinjiang as “fake news” promoted by those with links to the CIA. Apparently, he bases this assessment on two state-sponsored trips to Xinjiang in 2016 and 2018.
But, as the Post reports, in 2019, China closed its borders (citing the pandemic) and expelled foreign journalists who reported on Xinjiang. In addition, only a handful of Uyghurs have been able to leave China or even communicate with the outside world.
We know enough to conclude that China’s treatment of the Uighurs constitutes at least “crimes against humanity.” The international human rights community is clear about that.
The open issue is whether Red China’s actions are genocidal, i.e., based on an intent to destroy Uighurs as a group. The Chinese government is doing its best to prevent the access that would assist in that determination. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to draw an adverse inference from China’s efforts in this regard.
The Chinese government is aided in its coverup by Western “experts,” who, as Bernstein observes, “reflect an old phenomenon of outside elites finding much to like in authoritarian systems — communist, fascist or even Nazi — while downplaying or ignoring their faults.”
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