Shi Maxian’s trap vs Thucydides’ trap
Many political theories and international interpretations have emerged to explain the form of the conflict between the United States and its allies in the face of China, which the United States of America gave “the form of a conflict of an essentially ideological nature”, based on the “Cold War mentality”, which prevailed during the period of the old Soviet Union before its downfall in 1991, and new international theories emerged, based on similar ancient Western events, such as the theory of the “Thucydides trap” and the theory of “Tacitus’ trap”. However, according to my analytical and academic view as an expert mainly specialized in Chinese political affairs, I have found similar theoretical explanations in the ancient Chinese imperial history, such as: (Shi Maxian’s trap theory), during the ancient imperial era of the “Xiongnu Dynasty”, while its confrontation with the “Han dynasty” old Empire.
Therefore, the Egyptian researcher proceeded here to (analyze the content of phrases from the masses political speeches of the Chinese President, Comrade “Xi Jinping”, in order to enable us to apply those Chinese theories in the face of the American and Western theories), which are concentrating on the principles of (hegemony, monopoly and unilateralism), based on the mechanism and policy of the current US diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and all the features of the US confrontational approach to China, as follows:
The ancient Chinese theory of historian “Shi Maxian”, was related to the basis for understanding the ancient Chinese interpretation of what is known (the theories of the rise and fall of ancient nations): this ancient theory may enable contemporary China to build a contemporary explanatory relationship with the “end of history theory” of the Japanese-American thinker “Fukuyama”, which is based on (the victory of Western liberal American values in the face of China and the Islamic world), so, based on our understanding of those Chinese theories and philosophies in the first place, we will be able to understand the direction and way of thinking and contemplation of the Chinese mentality and its view of the world and events, and even how to respond China on all American provocations in the face.
The possibility of China re-presenting the old imperial theory, known as: (the “Shi Maxian” trap or “the theory of confronting a foreign enemy”, and promoting this enemy among the Chinese people), will aim to increase the growth of the feelings of nationalism within it, to motivate them to turn around their leaders and homeland and increasing its strength: This is the ancient theory of China to build an external enemy permanently, which was put forward by the ancient Chinese historian “Shi Maxian”, the meaning of it, is to “build an enemy permanently, so that everyone gathers around this enemy and unites the citizens of the country to eliminate it”. This Chinese theory prevailed during the era of the “Ancient Chinese Xiongnu Empire”.
Also, this Chinese theory (the theory of the “Shi Maxian” trap) – according to my analytical and interpretive vision as a specialized expert in Chinese political affairs – is almost analogous to the international theory currently known as the “Greek Thucydides trap”: it is the Western Greek theory that was reproduced once again and showing it, despite its affiliation with the ancient state of Greece and Sparta, as an attempt to explain the form of the unity of the current conflict between China and the United States of America.
According to my academic analysis, the ancient imperial conflict in China between the “Xiongnu” and “Han” empires is similar to the form of the ongoing and current international conflict between China and the United States of America: this ancient imperial conflict in China, which was presented by the ancient Chinese historian “Shi Maxian”, who is considered the first true historian of China in the contemporary real sense or concept, wrote about the “Ancient Xiongnu Empire in China”, considering that it was the rival power that was forced into submission by the “Ancient Han Empire of China”.
The “Xiongnu Empire” with this ancient analysis applies parallel to modern China, meaning that: “The weaker the “Xiongnu Empire” in the face of the strength of the “Han Empire”, the Chinese will be stronger, and vice versa”: Here we may call this theory in the sense of the “Shi Maxian” trap or “the theory of building a foreign enemy to confront him”, meaning promoting the presence of a permanent enemy among your people, to increase the growth of the element of nationalism to him to rally around th homeland and increase its economic, political and military strength, in order to always prepare for this external enemy, which is here in our case, is literally applies to the United States of America and its allies around the world in the face of China and its ruling Communist Party.
Perhaps Chinese leaders in the future will try to evoke the analyzes of the ancient Chinese “Xiongnu Empire” and its permanent confrontation with the “Han Empire”, as a primarily Chinese attempt to explain all (theories of the new enemies of China, especially those who appear mainly from the West): the same thing has become true of the United States of America itself by comparing its hostility to China on a continuous basis with the mentality of the Cold War during the period of the Soviet Union, and applying this in its current dealings with China, and its adoption of the policy of alliances and the mobilization of alliances and new political and defense polarizations, such as: the Quad agreement with (Japan, India, and Australia) to confront China economically and regionally, and the most dangerous other agreement signed by the United States of America is the “New Aukus Defense Agreement”, which has been signed by both (Australia and Britain) to confront China’s military, security and strategic influence in the South China Sea and Taiwan, and to create a (US-Australian military and defense partnership to confront China in the “Indo-Pacific” or “Asia-Pacific” region), according to the Chinese interpretation.
We can deduce and analyze common points between Western and Chinese theories of conflict management. According to the theory of “Thucydides”, which is proposed by the ancient Greek state to explain the form of the conflict between new rising powers that triumph over old descending ones, as a reference to China and the USA: it’s a theory known globally, as “Thucydides’ trap”, which has been prevailed during the Greek ancient cities, as a trap to achieve the victory on the enemies, and presented by the Greek historian “Thucydides”, saying that:
“War will be inevitable when a new power emerges to challenge an existing one”
Hence, and by applying the Chinese response mechanism in practice to the American challenge in confronting it, according to my analysis of the content of the political speeches of Comrade “Xi Jinping”: According to my analysis of Comrade Xi’s speeches, I noticed that the general trend in interpreting and analyzing the speeches of the Chinese President, Comrade “Xi Jinping”, to his people, members of his Communist Party, and his comrades in the Politburo, was decisive in getting rid of the effects of the theory of “Thucydides’ trap” against China, by emphasizing in his political speeches to the Chinese people and members of the ruling Communist Party, which is stating that:
“No matter what stage of development China has reached, China will never seek hegemony or expansionism. China follows a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, and here China calls on the peoples of all countries to work together to build a community with a shared future for the humanity”
Another Western theory, called the “Tacitus trap theory” in the form of the conflict between Washington and Beijing, and its application to the credibility of the current US administration of President “Joe Biden” with its people, citizens and athletes themselves, is also related to their demand for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics: where I found that this Western theory, known as: “Tacitus’ theory”, as the perfect application of the US administration’s inability to move its people, athletes, and allies, dissuading them or preventing them from participating in the Beijing Winter Olympics, and then having to “leave the matter of participation or not as an open option and choice to all”. In my attempt to apply that historical theory known as the “Tacitus trap” to the conflict between the United States of America and China, and China’s role in getting rid of it, it becomes clear that this Western trap of “Tacitus”, is based on:
“Be careful when the government loses its credibility, it will inevitably be seen as a liar, whether it is telling the truth or lying or doing the good or the bad”
Therefore, the speech of the Chinese President, Comrade “Xi Jinping”, in a political speech to the masses of his people, came to warn against the theory of “Tacitus’ trap” in the face of the Chinese masses towards the government and its credibility: the emphasis has become that the policies of the ruling Communist Party itself must “fit the nature of the Chinese people”, according to their needs, to gain their legitimate government and satisfaction, in contrast to that narrow, individualistic and unilateral behaviours, adopted by the Western philosophy and their vision in dealing with the masses, by affirming that:
“We must focus on maintaining and keeping the Party’s close bond with the people in mind, developing a closer link with them and keeping on working for stronger overall support for Party governance”
Here, based on our understanding of the form of Chinese and Western theories of conflict management, according to the philosophy and vision of each of them, I was able to reach analytically, that the most prominent points of contention between that Western democracy and Chinese socialism, is based on that narrow Western individual view of the masses and peoples compared to China: Western political parties waste a lot of their energy on focusing on “campaigns to win and stay in power”. The interest in the West and the United States of America is focused on winning elections and governing. But, in contrast to the theories of the West, Chinese communist policies are concerned with (developing major strategies of interest to the masses), such as:
(Poverty alleviation, fighting corruption, comprehensive social and health security, and eliminating slums)… etc.
According to my personal view and my view of current events, the United States of America is trying to “create a foreign enemy in the face of the American public opinion that constantly criticizes the policies of its government”. Therefore, the current American policies are trying to ideologically impede the progress of the Communist Party of China: by deliberately the United States of America in dividing the world into democratic and totalitarian regimes, at a time when the American authorities and their administration have neglected more urgent and important internal issues and the basic needs for its people, we can find that the Communist Party of China, and its adoption of the (model of applying such successful policies to win the approval of the Chinese people and their masses), such as: poverty alleviation, fighting corruption and others, which helps in creating a strong public faith towards all endeavors towards achieving this, and addressing problems, contrary to the American policies at home, which are basically targeting China and its ruling Communist Party, claiming that they are the causes of the American current failure, economic and technological faltering, and their intentional harm to the American people.
Here we understand that the current American call for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February 2022, is just one of a series of other American attempts to impede Chinese growth and progress in all fields globally, due to (the success of the policy of the rise of China and its Communist Party globally, in contrast to the clear American decline internally and externally), especially after its failure and stumble in many files.
Taiwan’s International Status: “A Country Within a Country”
In California, a recent meeting was held between the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, and the U.S. House Speaker, Mr. Kevin McCarthy, which holds political significance. This aforementioned meeting facilitated a negative shift in the bilateral relations between China and Taiwan. The latent hostilities between China and Taiwan possess the potential to escalate into full-scale armed conflict at any given juncture.
The incongruent dynamic existing between China and Taiwan has persisted since 1949, when Taiwan made the conscious decision to separate from mainland China.
From 1949 onwards, China and Taiwan have been embroiled in a geopolitical imbroglio pertaining to their respective territorial integrity and claims of sovereignty. The Chinese government asserts that Taiwan is an integral component of its sovereign geography. On the contrary, Taiwan is assertive of its autonomy as a distinct, self-governing entity that operates independently and is no longer subject to Chinese jurisdiction.
The discordant relationship between the two sides which has escalated over the preceding biennium, potentially heightening the likelihood of military confrontation.
Over the course of the past two years, there have been several instances in which China has deployed the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct military maneuvers in close proximity to Taiwan. The aforementioned initiative was aimed at preventing any activities fueled by Taiwan that could have been construed as provocative and potentially encroach on China’s claims of rightful control over Taiwan’s sovereignty and territorial boundaries
The persistent geopolitical tensions between China and Taiwan since 1949 can be attributed to diverging opinions regarding the formal recognition of Taiwan, in particular, the contentious matter of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Tensions will continue Between China and Taiwan until Taiwan becomes independent or recognizes its self-identification as a constituent part of China.
Since 1949, the China has exerted persistent pressure upon Taiwan to acquiesce to the notion of reunification or the incorporation of Taiwan into the mainland territory of China. Nevertheless, it appears that Taiwan’s internal political circumstance and dynamics persist in maintaining its political choices and ideology as a democratic and self-governing entity.
The prolonged inability of both parties to develop a more extensive and adaptable resolution or methodology to address the matter implies that the aspiration to “normalize” relations between China and Taiwan continues to exist solely within the realm of rhetoric.
In order to achieve the objective of unification under the the idea of the “One China Principle” or One China Policy and to surmount the political divergence concerning Taiwan’s official position, has engendered several propositions by China aimed at resolving this issue. A proposed approach adopt the implementation of a “one country, two systems” protocol akin to that employed in Hong Kong and Macau.
The Chinese government has expressed that the policy is exceedingly permissive and capable of surmounting the distinct system variances that exist between the mainland region of China and Taiwan.
The proposal of “special administrative region” attributed to Taiwan enables the continued preservation of its economic, social, and security system that they have built so far, while attenuating or obviating any undue influence or interference by China. Nonetheless, the aforementioned proposal appears to be insufficient in instigating political transformation in Taiwan, given the persistent refusal of Taiwanese individuals and governmental officials to endorse unification and uphold their desire for independence.
In view of China, safeguarding Taiwan and accomplishing the complete unification of the country is not solely a matter of fulfilling its constitutional obligations, but also serves the purpose of preserving its stature as a dominant and revered nation on the global stage.
In contrast, Taiwan persistently endeavors to establish diplomatic and cross-strait relations through a range of diverse strategies and approaches with multiple nations across the globe. The clear objective is to secure the hearts and compassion of the global populace. Taiwan undertook this action with the aim of restoring its position in the global arena and paving the way for its eventual recognition as a self-governing entity with full political autonomy.
“Country within a country”
Again, the China-Taiwan issue is rooted in a territorial and sovereignty perspectives. In the global arena, China maintains a comparatively advantageous position. China, is a prominent participant in the United Nations, the most extensive intergovernmental organization encompassing numerous states worldwide, Positioning itself as a powerful participant in the direction and reflection of global politics. Furthermore, China belongs to “the distinguished” member of UN Security Council’s five permanent members, which has so far strong and great influence on world politics.
On the other hand, the international position held by Taiwan is considerably intricate. The question regarding the statehood of Taiwan remains a matter of unsettled dispute, given the absence of any universally recognized body empowered to render definitive judgments regarding the status of a nation-state.
Since the adoption of Resolution A/RES/2758 by the UN General Assembly on October 25, 1971, Taiwan has lost its international “stage”. This is because the resolution affirms China as the sole legitimate representative of China to the United Nations and consequentially nullifies Taiwan’s membership from the organization.
It is a well-documented reality that numerous nations have forged informal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, particularly in the realm of trade and investment. The United States, for instance, has solidified such relations through the Taiwan Relations Act. To the present day, a limited number of 22 nations have formally acknowledged and established official diplomatic intercourse with Taiwan. A notable aspect is that the majority of these nations lack any substantial sway or significant leverage on the international political sphere. Specifically, countries of comparatively small size in the African and Latin American regions, namely Haiti, Belize, and Tuvalu.
Taiwan has indeed met the three constitutive elements or absolute requisites deemed necessary for a country as exemplified by the 1933 Montevideo Convention. These components include the presence of a defined territorial boundary, a functioning populace, and a duly constituted government. However, Taiwan lacks a crucial element in its diplomatic status, namely the recognition from the international community through a declarative act.
The restricted global acknowledgement of Taiwan undoubtedly carries considerable political and legal ramifications. Recognition is widely regarded as the key component in modern international politics that has the potential to enhance the legitimacy and sovereignty of a given state.
Taiwan faces formidable challenges in achieving recognition. In order to attain successful governance, Taiwan must display adeptness in efficiently managing both internal and external political dynamics. Otherwise, the current state of affairs will persist, leading to Taiwan’s classification as a “subnational entity” Or “A country within a country”.
Ultimately, the resolution of the China and Taiwan conflict proves to be a formidable challenge. In order to mitigate potential future crises and uphold regional and international stability, it is necessary for China and Taiwan to refrain from engaging in provocative actions. It is imperative to adopt a cooperative approach through negotiations and concessions that are all-encompassing and pertinent, in order to attain a sustainable resolution that caters to the interests of both China and Taiwan’s populace of 23 million, while acknowledging and adapting to their respective challenges and circumstances.
The Sino-Russian-led World Order: A Better Choice for the Globe?
International forums, which were once established to promote cooperation and dialogue among the world’s states, are now increasingly being used as platforms for confrontation and accusation. The recent example of G20 and G7 summits, where China and Russia faced criticism and isolation from Western countries over the Indo-pacific and their actions in Ukraine, plus India’s accusation of Pakistan as a terrorist sponsor state in the SCO summit, illustrate these trends. Instead of working towards finding a solution to pressing global problems, these meetings have devolved into platforms for airing grievances and pointing fingers – this shift in focus has undermined the effectiveness of these forums in addressing the very issues they were created to solve.
At their recent summit in Hiroshima, Japan, the G7 leaders issued their strongest-ever condemnation of Russia and China. They accused them of using economic coercion and militarizing the South China Sea and urged them to push Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Furthermore, at the G7 summit, leaders of the significant democracies pledged additional measures targeting Russia and spoke with a united voice on their growing concern over China.
Similarly, in Feb 2023, at the G20 finance minister’s summit held in Bengaluru, Russia and China declined to sign a joint statement condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and of course, as a sovereign state, Russia has the right to defend its territory and combat threats that pose a danger to its survival. These are just a few instances that illustrate how the Western world reacts to the actions and policies of China and Russia on the global stage.
Consequently, this recent condemnation and blaming at the Hiroshima summit demonstrate that international forums can no longer address serious global issues; instead, they have become arenas for blaming and accusing one another. This shift in the nature of international forums has significant implications for global governance and cooperation – It highlights the need for the failure of the current global system dominated by the Western bloc.
Besides, accusing states such as China and Russia at international forums is not a solution to global problems; instead, it can exacerbate regional tension and promote anti-sentiment against influential states. Furthermore, instead of promoting cooperation and dialogue, such accusations can foster an environment of mistrust and hostility, making it more challenging to find common ground and work towards resolving global issues.
In one of my previous papers, I argued that “the contemporary geopolitical landscape is characterized by escalating tension between the United States and its allies and China and Russia. This can be attributed to the absence of transparent and inclusive unipolar world order that effectively addresses the interests and concerns of all nations.“
I further elaborated that the US and its allies are not inclined to recognize the emergence of a Sino-Russian-led world order, as evidenced by the recent summit development. The West has frequently chastised China and Russia for their autocratic governments, breaches of human rights, and expansionist ambitions. Such claims, however, are based on a skewed and obsolete understanding of the global system that ignores the two countries’ legitimate interests and aspirations. Instead of making allegations, the Western world should be grateful for the Sino-Russian-led international system, which provides a more democratic, multipolar, and peaceful alternative to the US-dominated regional hegemony.
To begin with, the Sino-Russian-led international order is more democratic than the Western one since it recognizes the globe’s diversity of political systems and cultures. China and Russia do not push their ideals or ideologies on other countries but instead encourage them to exercise their sovereignty and self-determination. They also reject any influence or intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries, particularly by the United States and its allies. In contrast, the Western world has frequently employed economic and military force to compel or remove governments that do not share its interests or tastes. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, and Iran are a few examples. Such operations have breached international law and generated insecurity and misery in several places.
Second, the Sino-Russian-led international order is more multipolar than the Western one because it balances the strength and influence of many global players. With expanding economic, military, and diplomatic capacities, China and Russia have emerged as crucial powers in the twenty-first century. They have also formed strategic alliances with other growing nations, including India, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, and Iran. They have joined forces to oppose the US-led unipolar system and call for more egalitarian and inclusive global governance. On the other hand, the Western world has attempted to preserve its domination and hegemony over other countries, particularly in regions such as Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. Many countries seeking greater autonomy have expressed displeasure and hostility to such a system.
Third, the Sino-Russian world order is more peaceful than the Western one because it values discussion and collaboration above confrontation and war. China and Russia have settled their historical differences and formed a comprehensive strategic alliance based on mutual trust and respect. They have also collaborated on several regional and global concerns, including counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, climate change, energy security, and pandemic response. They have also backed international institutions and procedures such as the United Nations (UN), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and others. In contrast, the Western world has frequently instigated or intensified tensions and disagreements with other countries, particularly China and Russia. A few examples are NATO expansion, missile defense deployment, sanctions system, and commerce.
Finally, international forums have the potential to promote cooperation and dialogue among nations; however, their effectiveness is hindered when they become platforms for confrontation and accusation. In contrast, the Sino-Russian-led world order is a superior choice for the globe to the Western one. It is more democratic because it values diversity; multipolar because it balances power; and more peaceful because it promotes dialogue – thus, rather than criticizing, the Western world should commend the international order led by Sino-Russian cooperation.
In conclusion, while international forums have the potential to promote cooperation among nations, they are increasingly being used for confrontation. In this context, the Sino-Russian-led world order offers a more democratic and peaceful alternative to the US-dominated hegemony and may be a better choice for promoting global cooperation.
Beijing’s Continued Repression of Religious Minorities
On May 24, a new U.S. congressional committee on China approved reports pushing back on Beijing over its treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. The committee has highlighted what Washington says is an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. In March this year, a U.S. official told Newsweek she was “especially alarmed” by China’s placement of 1 million Tibetan children in a residential school system, which Beijing said was part of a broader poverty alleviation program.
The treatment of both Muslim Uyghur population in Xinjiang, and the Buddhist population in Tibet, by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), created by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949, officially an atheist state has been coming under increased scrutiny in the past few years. China’s policies towards religious minorities as a whole have developed from the CCP’s sense of concern about the threat to its authority posed by organised religion.
Anti Religious campaigns were launched in 1949, under the direction of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Mao Zedong but these became particularly active during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). The possession of religious texts was also criminalised. Carte blanche to attack and take action against religious institutions that were seen as representatives of the old ‘feudal’ order was given, and repression and atrocities were committed throughout all of the regions of China, the non-Han areas, including Tibet and Xinjiang, were affected particularly badly. Thousands of Tibetans escaped to India with sacred texts and compiled teachings in exile communities.
The 1982 Constitution made a clear distinction between what it described as normal religious activities and those that threatened the stability of the state, “The state protects normal religious activities. No one may use religion to make an attack on the order of society, harm the physical health of citizens, or impede the activities of the state’s education system.” ‘Normal religious activities’ is interpreted to mean religious activities carried out by religious bodies that have official government approval.
The Chinese government, led by Jiang Zemin from 1989 to 2002, commenced the persecution of Falun Gong and the Tibetan Buddhists. The persecution of Tibetan Buddhists escalated under Hu Jintao. The announcement by China’s foreign ministry in 2011 that only Beijing could appoint the 15th Dalai Lama, led to the self immolation of a monk Tsewang Norbu, at Nyitso monastery, whilst chanting “Long live the Dalai Lama” and “Tibetan people want freedom.” After Xi Jinping adjured Party members in 2016 to act as “unyielding Marxist atheists,” China intensified anti-religious campaigns in the country. Since then the persecution and targeting of Tibetans and of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, has intensified.
Chinese military surveillance units have been installed at Kirti Monastery, Yarchen Gar, Shak Rongpo Gaden Dargyeling Monastery, and at other monasteries. In a report dated November 1993 The Christian Science Monitor had reported that, “an influx of Chinese into the region, along with Beijing’s expanding infiltration of monasteries, threatens to bury Tibetan culture.” one Tibetan Buddhist monk says, “In the past, the party attacked Tibet’s monasteries with guns and tanks,”… “But today the government uses undercover police and management committees to attack us from within.This is a much more sophisticated method of causing the slow death of Tibetan Buddhism.” Tibetan Buddhism has a deep relationship with the Tibetan identity and this is precisely why China’s approach is to impose its own Chinese brand of Buddhism onto the Tibetans. If the Chinese authorities can control Tibetan Buddhism, then they can control the Tibetan identity. Today thousands of Tibetans are languishing in prisons and detention centres strewn across the region’s mountainous terrain. In 2022, the U.S. imposed sanctions on two officials, namely Wu Yingjie, Communist Party Secretary of Tibet from 2016 to 2021, and Zhang Hongbo, the region’s police chief since 2018, for the arbitrary detention and physical abuse of members of religious minority groups in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
China is persecuting all minorities and it has different rationales for doing it. In 2018 the Associated Press reported that that “Xi is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.” This has involved “destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith,” actions taken against “so-called underground or house churches that defy government restrictions. Pastors have received instructions in 2023 to“teach parishioners to “always follow the Party,” and ‘study Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era.”
The treatment of Uyghur Muslims makes many of the headlines from China, as does the rejection of these reports by Beijing. Uighur Muslims are subject to heavy surveillance as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to eliminate cultural, linguistic and religious differences from the country’s majority Han culture. Evidence suggests that the CCP is engaged in a campaign to eradicate culturally, if not physically, the Uyghur Muslims. While releasing the US Department of State’s Annual report on religious freedom around the world for 2022, Rashad Hussain, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom said, “The PRC government continue[s] to commit genocide and crimes against humanity against Uighurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.” It is difficult to precisely estimate the total number of Muslims in China and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Eastern Turkestan). Muslims of the Xinjiang region speak Turkic languages, mainly Uyghur and Kazakh. Party policy towards Uyghur though always discriminatory, further tightened after 2014 when Xi Jingping visited the region and called for a “period of painful interventionary treatment” and the installation of Chen Quangao as CCP secretary for the region in August 2016. Thereafter the suppression of Uyghur religious practices, political indoctrination intensified through arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in state-sponsored internment camps, forced labour, severe ill-treatment,forced sterilisation, forced contraception,and forced abortion.
China frames its activities in the region as countering extremism. According to Maya Wang, acting China director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), “The Chinese government outrageously yet dangerously conflates Islam with violent extremism to justify its abhorrent abuses against Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.”It has now been widely reported that the Chinese government has arbitrarily detained more than a million Muslims in reeducation camps since 2017. Initially China denied the existence of any detention camps in Xinjiang, but in 2018, said it had set up “vocational training centres” necessary to curb what it said was terrorism, separatism and religious radicalism in the region.
Diverse ethnic and religious groups are considered threats to China’s regime legitimacy, and a challenge to Han centric ethnocentrism. China’s repressive policies in Xinjiang were the subject of a landmark report by the United Nations Human Rights Office in November 2022. However it was a diplomatic victory for China as the proposal from Britain, Turkey, the United States and other mostly Western countries to hold a debate on alleged rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region was voted down. The US is not alone in finding China’s activities in gingeng crimes against humanity; Belgium, Canada, UK have concurred that ‘genocide’ is underway in Xinjiang, but other countries in the Asia Pacific region Japan, Australian, New Zealand have demurred from holding China accountable. China’s centrality to the global economy, large and powerful military, and permanent membership of the United Nations’ Security Council complicate the use of conventional diplomatic and economic policy levers to help ameliorate the plight of the minorities.
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