Xinjiang: what the West doesn’t tell you about China’s war on terror

Xinjiang: what the West doesn’t tell you about China’s war on terror. By Weijian Shan.

On January 19 … then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, on his last day in office, declared that China was committing “ongoing” genocide against the Uygurs. …

Muslim terrorism by Uyqurs:

I used to visit Xinjiang from Hong Kong until a few years ago, for an American firm which had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in two private businesses there.

Both employed Uygurs and Han people alike. Those were coveted jobs. On my visits, I was taken to Uygur bazaars, Uygur dinners and Uygur dances, all of which my hosts presented to me with pride. Most officials I met were Uygurs.

Starting around 2007, however, it became increasingly dangerous to visit Xinjiang. The region was rocked by a spate of horrific terrorist attacks, resulting in over 1,000 deaths and countless injuries.

For example, on July 5, 2009, there was a riot in the capital city of Urumqi; 197 people were hacked, beaten or burned to death and 1,721 were injured. On May 22, 2014, two car bombings in the same city killed 43 people and wounded 94. There were dozens of other attacks.

The extreme violence was not just confined to Xinjiang. In 2013, five people died and 38 were injured in a suicide attack by three Uygurs in Beijing. In 2014, a killing spree by eight knife-wielding Uygurs left 31 people dead and 141 wounded at a Kunming railway station.

A 2016 study commissioned by the US government noted that, from 2012 to 2014, domestic attacks in China “apparently became more frequent, more geographically dispersed, and more indiscriminately targeted”. The perpetrators, in many cases, were radicalised members of the Uygur ethnic group.

The organisation that often claimed responsibility for the attacks, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), was described in a Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder as “a Muslim separatist group founded by militant Uygurs”. …

Uygur fighters battled with US forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere, with many being wounded, killed or captured. For years, the US held 22 Uygurs at Guantanamo Bay. As recently as July 2020, the UN identified thousands of Uygur Islamic State fighters in Syria and Afghanistan.

Much like the post-September 11 war on terror — one in which the US, ironically, had considered China to be a partner — China has been waging its own counterterrorism offensive in Xinjiang. The extremists operate across China’s porous borders and train alongside the Taliban and Islamic State. …

How does the Chinese record against Muslim terrorism compare to the American?

By various estimates, America’s war on terror has claimed half a million lives in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many more in Pakistan, Syria and Libya. In Iraq, the conflict caused an estimated 200,000 civilian deaths, the vast majority of whom were women and children, outnumbering the casualties among Iraqi troops five to one.

Unlike the US’ war on terror, China’s counterterrorism campaign seems to have worked. There have been no reports of terror attacks since 2017.

It is actually quite remarkable that China has been able to rein in terrorism, an intractable problem anywhere in the world, without inflicting as much collateral damage. This point never seems to be made in the torrent of outrage pouring from the Western press.

There are about 25 million Muslims in China. Beijing alone has about a quarter of a million Muslims and more than 70 mosques. China’s policies in Xinjiang, however draconian they might appear to be at one level, are not targeted at a religion or an ethnic group, but at extremism; major Muslim countries understand this and have publicly supported China.

Implicit in any claim of genocide is the idea that one group is attempting to exterminate another. … Between 2010 and 2018, the Uygur population increased by 25 per cent, compared with 2 per cent for the Han population.

It is well known that China implemented a one-child policy between 1979 and 2015. What is not well understood is that non-Han ethnic groups such as the Uygurs were exempt from the birth control policy, and couples in rural areas were allowed to have up to three children.

Interesting that the Chinese method is working — but is that level of suppression really required? Can’t terrorism be successfully combated by less brutal means?

Also interesting that the media here now airbursh Uygur terrorism out of the picture — a classic lie by omission.

hat-tip Stephen Neil