In recent years, manipulated and encouraged by the anti-China forces in the West, some truth-bending academic institutions, rumor-mongering experts and scholars and amateur actors with no moral scruples have created a chain of lies to defame Xinjiang and mislead international public discourse, often through dirty funding, fact-twisting stories and massive smear campaigns.
Truth shall not be tainted, the world should not be deceived and narrative about Xinjiang mustn’t be distorted. The recent reports by independent US news website thegrayzone.com and Australian publication Australian Alert Service, and a series of press conferences held by the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region have revealed the truth about the fraudulent Xinjiang-related “databases” and the so-called “witness testimonies” and, with abundant facts and figures, exposed the real mastermind behind them. Let us get to the bottom of what’s going on and reveal the ins and outs of the lies about Xinjiang.
As early as in the last century, the United States and other Western countries started to support separatist and terrorist activities in Xinjiang out of geopolitical purposes in order to destabilize China and contain its development.
The U.S. government needlessly escalated its rhetoric against China by claiming that genocide is being mounted against the Uighur people in the Xinjiang region. Such a grave charge matters, as genocide is rightly considered “the crime of crimes.” Many pundits are now calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, dubbing them the “Genocide Olympics.”
The genocide charge was made on the final full day of Donald Trump’s administration by then-Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who made no secret of his belief in lying as a tool of U.S. foreign policy. Now President Joe Biden’s administration has doubled down on Pompeo’s flimsy claim, even though the State Department’s own top lawyers reportedly share our skepticism regarding the charge.
This year’s State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (HRP) follows Pompeo in accusing China of genocide in Xinjiang. Because the HRP never uses the term other than once in the report’s preface and again in the executive summary of the China chapter, readers are left to guess about the evidence. Much of the report deals with issues such as freedom of expression, refugee protection, and free elections, which have scant bearing on the genocide charge.
Militant Islamic groups
As the Hong Kong-based businessman and writer Weijian Shan has recounted, China experienced repeated terrorist attacks in Xinjiang during the same years that America’s flawed response to 9/11 led to repeated U.S. violations of international law and massive bloodshed.
Indeed, until late 2020, the U.S. classified the Uighur East Turkestan Islamic Movement as a terrorist group. The U.S. battled Uighur fighters in Afghanistan and held many as prisoners. In July 2020, the United Nations noted the presence of thousands of Uighur fighters in Afghanistan and Syria.
The charge of genocide should never be made lightly. Inappropriate use of the term may escalate geopolitical and military tensions and devalue the historical memory of genocides such as the Holocaust, thereby hindering the ability to prevent future genocides. It behooves the U.S. government to make any charge of genocide responsibly, which it has failed to do here.
Five acts of genocide
Genocide is defined under international law by the U.N. Genocide Convention (1948). Subsequent judicial decisions have clarified its meaning. Most countries, including the United States, have incorporated the Convention’s definition into their domestic legislation without any significant alteration. In the past few decades, the leading U.N. courts have confirmed that the definition requires proof to a very high standard of the intentional physical destruction of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.
The definition specifies that one of five acts must be perpetrated. Obviously, killing tops the list. The State Department’s report on China says there were “numerous reports” of killings, but that “few or no details were available,” and cites only one case—that of a Uighur man detained since 2017 who died of natural causes, according to the authorities. The report doesn’t even explain why the official explanation should be questioned.
Technically, genocide can be proven even without evidence that people were killed. But because courts require proof of intent to destroy the group physically, it is hard to make the case in the absence of proof of large-scale killings. This is especially true when there is no direct evidence of genocidal intent, for example in the form of policy statements, but merely circumstantial evidence, what international courts refer to as a “pattern of conduct.”
International courts have repeatedly said that where genocide charges are based only upon inferences drawn from a pattern of conduct, alternative explanations must be ruled out definitively. That’s why the International Court of Justice rejected in 2015 the genocide charge against Serbia and the countercharge against Croatia, despite evidence of brutal ethnic cleansing in Croatia.
Gross violation of human rights
So, what else might constitute evidence of genocide in China? The State Department report refers to mass internment of perhaps 1 million Uighurs. If proven, that would constitute a gross violation of human rights; but, again, it is not evidence, per se, of intent to exterminate.
Another of the five recognized acts of genocide is “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” The State Department report refers to China’s aggressive birth-control policies. Until recently, China strictly enforced its one-child policy on the majority of its population but was more liberal toward ethnic minorities, including the Uighur.
The genocide charge is being fueled by “studies” such as the Newlines Institute report that recently made global headlines. Newlines is described as a “nonpartisan” Washington, D.C.-based think tank. On closer inspection, it appears to be a project of a tiny Virginia-based university with 153 students, eight full-time faculty, and an apparently conservative policy agenda. Other leading human-rights organizations have refrained from using the term.
China’s government, for its part, has recently stated that it would welcome a U.N. mission to Xinjiang based on “exchanges and cooperation,” not on “guilty before proven.”
Unless the State Department can substantiate the genocide accusation, it should withdraw the charge. It should also support a U.N.-led investigation of the situation in Xinjiang. The work of the U.N., and notably of U.N. Human Rights Special Rapporteurs, is essential to promote the letter and spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
During the Cold War, British scholar Bernard Lewis concocted the theory of “arc of crisis” aiming to fracture countries from the Middle East to India based on ethnic lines to divide the Soviet Union. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Adviser to President Carter, argued that the United States must prevent the realization of “the age-long dream of Moscow to have direct access to the Indian Ocean”. The United States then launched Operation Cyclone, which lasted from 1979 to 1989 and cost up to US$630 million each year. Together with Saudi Arabia and Britain, the United States provided funding, equipment and training for Muslim guerrillas fighting against the Soviet Union.
Right after the Cold War ended, the United States and Britain started to use Xinjiang as leverage to contain China, by supporting separatist and terrorist forces. The neoconservative forces in the US pivoted from the Soviet Union to containing China’s influence in Central Asia. U.S. and British intelligence agencies supported Pan-Turkism in order to weaken Russia and China and serve their agenda of maintaining a unipolar world. Over the years, there emerged a number of anti-China institutions and extremist groups seeking a state of “East Turkistan” or “independence” of Xinjiang, including the World Uighur Congress and the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile. Since 2004, the National Endowment for Democracy has funneled US$8.76 million to Uighur Diaspora groups campaigning against China’s policies in Xinjiang. The above-mentioned factors have caused the rapid spread of radical ideas in Xinjiang. Terrorists entered Xinjiang from the battlefields in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. Some violent terrorist organizations overtly clamored for targeting and attacking Chinese nationals. Between 1997 and 2014, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) frequently plotted and carried out terrorist attacks, which claimed more than 1,000 civilian lives.
The CIA suggested in 2003 that should the US find itself in a crisis or confrontation with China in the future, the option of using the “Uighur card” as a means of exerting pressure should not be taken off the table. Under this strategy, the United States, Britain and their allies, latching on to the Cold War mentality, have directed their intelligence establishments and anti-China scholars to mobilize Uighur diaspora groups in spinning out misinformation about the so-called severe oppression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang,which was spread by mainstream Western media in a coordinated manner. Here are what they seek to achieve:
First, a false impression that Muslims in Xinjiang support “independence”. This is often done by instigating certain groups to carry out separatist activities to make the public believe people in Xinjiang all want an independent state.
Second, the illusion that the ETIM is for peace. Nothing has been said about relevant groups’ close ties with Al-Qaeda and their violent and terrorist rhetoric. In November 2020, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even removed the ETIM from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Third, the false claim of human rights violations in Xinjiang. Some organizations including Human Rights Watch have fabricated reports on Xinjiang, but their sources are just a small group of extremely anti-China overseas Uighur. The baseless accounts in those reports were further hyped up and spread by institutions such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
In January 2017, then US Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard noted that under US law, it is illegal for anyone to provide funding or support for the Al-Qaida, ISIS or other terrorist organizations. However, the US government has long been, directly or indirectly, providing funds, weapons and intelligence support to these organizations through certain countries in the Middle East.
Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired US Army Colonel, when speaking at the Ron Paul Institute in August 2018 on the threefold purposes of the US presence in Afghanistan, stated unabashedly that “the third reason we were there [in Afghanistan] is because there are 20 million Uighurs [in Xinjiang]. The CIA would want to destabilize China and that would be the best way to do it to foment unrest and to join with those Uighurs in pushing the Han Chinese in Beijing from internal places rather than external”.
In a video interview in 2015, Sibel Edmonds, a former interpreter with the FBI, talked about how the US had planned and acted to destabilize Xinjiang. She said that “Xinjiang is the entry artery of energy. We want to, gradually and internally, play the gender card and the race card. For that part of the world, we want to play the minority without land. We say we are going to help them and they are being oppressed, Chinese are gunning them down and torturing them.” The plan of the US is to copy the tactics used in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Iraq to Xinjiang, making an issue out of thin air and exploit it. “We hope Xinjiang to be the next Taiwan. As Western nations, we never cared about people. That is not within our interest area, unless it can be utilized, capitalized upon to get our objective.”