Trouble in Far East

Grace Woodruff, Staffer

A genocide is occurring in China, right at this moment, and not enough people are talking about it. Anti-Muslim predjudice has been present in the People’s Republic of China since its formation, as the communism associated with its formation was against all religions. This prejudice was exacerbated during China’s Cultural Revolution, which sought to suppress and eradicate religion.

However, in the years following America’s War on Terror, China has used this global unrest as an excuse to crack down on Muslims by labeling them as terrorists. Due to these wrongful accusations, Muslim individuals in China, specifically the Uighurs, are being separated from their families and sent to “re-education” camps. These camps are frequently cited by the Communist Party as being vital to the country’s political and social harmony. Accounts from the prisoners detail the horrors of these camps, including the unjustified assault of others, waterboarding and the forced consumption of pork and alcohol as a rejection of their faith.

While the Uighurs are the primary target right now, the Chinese government shows no intention of stopping there. The population in Xinjiang, the province primarily occupied by the Uighurs, is already hurting, with approximately 1 in 4 Uighurs being imprisoned in the detainment camps. China appears to have moved on to the Hui Muslims in Weizhou. Despite generally being more assimilated than the Uighurs, lacking a distinct language or dress style that would distinguish them from the Han Chinese, the Hui are also persecuted. In 2018, mosques across Weizhou were “renovated.” Their domes, a common feature of Muslim architechture, were removed and replaced with tiled pagodas, a structure commonly seen in Buddhist temples. The unprecedented onslaught can only be interpretted as cultural genocide.

China is a domineering force on the global stage, wielding much power politically and economically. This makes it difficult for other powers to challenge the country. As one of the most invaluable trade partners for countless countries, offering the most competitive costs in manufacturing and a large consumer base, few countries are willing to directly intervene. In 2019, 22 countries sent a letter to China telling them to close all of their “re-education camps.” However, the next day, 37 countries submitted a similar letter stating their support of China’s actions. Notably, the prince of Saudi Arabia and member of the Arab League, Mohammed bin Salman, supported China, going so far as to say that it was China’s “right” to place Muslims in concentration camps for “anti-terror” purposes. The reluctance of Saudi Arabia to engage suggests the immense power and influence possessed by the Chinese government.

At the moment, the US is condemning China for its treatment of the Uighurs. However, this condemnation may disappear when there is no trade war forcing leaders to critique the failures of China. When lives are placed over profit, a clear problem arises.
Money should not be the driving factor behind the decision of whether or not to protect the lives of innocent people. When an entire peoples way of life is subject to potential destruction, it becomes the responsibility of powerful state actors to intervene regardless of the potential hit to a country’s economy.