Muslim Internment In China

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2016, file photo, Kyrgyz police officers look at the Chinese Embassy after a suicide bombing in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In the past two years, militants belonging to the Uighur ethnic group native to the vast Xinjiang region in western China have shown signs of becoming a force in Islamic extremism globally. The development is reshaping both the ground war in Syria and Chinese foreign policy. The militants’ reach was highlighted most recently when a van packed with 100 kilograms of TNT barged into the Chinese diplomatic compound in Bishkek and detonated, killing the driver and wounding five. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin, File)
Sunday, Sep 23, 2018 at 6:24 pm by Taylor Lang

By Adam Lehrman – Syracuse, N.Y. (CitrusTV) – In early August of this year, it was reported that upwards of one million ethnic Uighurs in China were being held in what is being described as a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy” by a UN Human Rights Panel.

Gary McDougall, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, cited estimates that two million Uighurs and Muslim minorities were forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the western Xinjiang autonomous region.

Chinese officials have denied that these camps exist while Yu Jianhua, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said it was working toward equality and solidarity among all ethnic groups.

The Xinjiang region of China borders Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia and has over 10 million members of the Muslim minority known as the Uighurs. The area has been under the control of the Chinese government since 1949 when the Communist People’s Republic of China was established. Xinjiang has always been a land enriched with oil and natural resources which led to the government-backed migration of ethnic Han Chinese. Many of the soldiers stationed in the region are Han and they look upon the minority Uighurs as lesser citizens. In the 1990s, these ethnic minority groups clashed with government forces as massive protests spread out all across China. These demonstrations were suppressed by the Chinese government as a result of the impending collapse of the Soviet Union’s eastern european stronghold.

The Soviet Union’s fall lead to new thoughts, human rights and ideas which were now being introduced to authoritarian governments across the world.  Ever since then, China has made it a top priority to squash any type of ethnic rebellion that would lead to instability across the region.

The government has done this by forcing ethnic Uighurs into regimented apartment blocks while stripping away their traditional culture and values.  In 1994, Robert Kaplan, author of The Return of Marco Polo’s World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-First Century, decided to travel into the Xinjiang region where he encountered the oppressed minority Uighurs and asked them about their predicament. Many of its citizens back then described their hatred of the growing number of Han in the region.

“This is Turkestan, not China. Chinese don’t learn our language, and many of us don’t learn theirs. Even on a personal level, relations are bad,” one Uighur man told Kaplan

This hostility still embodies the region today as China has plans to increase its infrastructure and its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, which Bloomberg calls a “trillion-dollar project along the old Silk Road meant to boost China’s economic and political power and influence around the world.

Starting in 2009 when riots broke out all across the Xinjiang region, China has made efforts to subdue the ability of the ethnic Uighurs to practice their religion and faith. One example includes not being allowed to name their children traditional Muslim names. Names like “Muhammad,” “Medina” and “Jihad” have been banned by the Chinese government in order to reduce the amount of Muslim recognition in the area.

Another example of this hostility towards ethnic Uighurs is China’s restraint on cultural expression. A large portion of Muslim men wear longer beards as an imitation of the prophet of Mohammed. The government has banned long beards and burqas in Xinjiang

So, how is the current Trump Campaign dealing with these allegations of religious and cultural oppression? As of September 10th, the Trump Administration has been contemplating sanctions against Chinese senior officials and punishing Chinese companies in order to combat the allegations of China’s systematic oppression and detention of around 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in large internment camps.

These sanctions and economic penalties would be the first specifically for human rights violations against China in what has become a tip toe approach towards key trading partners of the United States.

According to the New York Times, discussions to rebuke China for its treatment of minority Muslims have been underway for months among officials at the White House and the Treasury and State Departments.

However, they gained urgency three weeks ago, after members of Congress asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on seven Chinese offices.

President Trump however still has some doubts in putting more fuel into fire as China and the U.S are still engaged in a trade war with new tariffs on the way. Dealing with these human rights issues could dramatically impact China’s policy toward North Korea’s nuclear program.