View from Away: China’s crackdown tests US role in the world

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In the cosmology of the Chinese Communist Party, the existence of Uighur Muslims is a threat not only to China’s dominant ethnic group, the Han, but also to the broader economic goals of the Chinese state. As a result, the CCP continues its ruthless attempts to subjugate and control the ethnic and religious minority.

The Uighurs populate China’s westernmost Xinjiang province. A thousand years ago this region was at the heart of the Silk Road, the network of trade routes that linked Asia with Europe. Today Xinjiang is a major logistics hub that is critical to China’s ambitious global infrastructure plan, which aspires to link the old Silk Road again.

The CCP believes that unrest in Xinjiang, in the form of a Uighur separatist movement, could derail these grandiose plans. Therefore, expressions of Uighur identity are punished, while Chinese totalitarianism and religious intolerance rule the region. Chinese officials argue that China’s policies in Xinjiang are simply an extension of the “global war on terror” and that the restive minority must be “re-educated” to combat religious and political extremism.

According to the United Nations, over 1 million Uighurs are being held without charge in what are being described as concentration camps. This may be the largest imprisonment of people based on religion since the Holocaust.

Not only do the Uighurs experience the full panopticon of surveillance by the Chinese state, they must endure forced labor, Communist Party orthodoxies and the suppression of their religion.

Particularly grotesque are the measures Chinese authorities have taken to slash Muslim birthrates. As reported by German scholar Adrian Zenz, Uighur women endure forced abortions and sterilizations.

The U.N. is in a position to draw attention to human rights abuses, but it has no ability to stop them, especially when they are perpetrated by a veto-wielding member such as China.

That makes it all the more imperative that the United States lead the world in applying pressure on China to adhere to the international human rights framework that protects ethnic and religious minorities from discrimination.

Led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio _ Congress’ loudest defender of the Uighur people _ the U.S. is using its diplomatic and commercial tools to disrupt the Chinese system of oppression.

In June, President Donald Trump signed into law the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, which placed sanctions on top Chinese officials associated with the human rights violations. The U.S. also blocked certain imports from the Xinjiang region and blacklisted companies that had ties to forced Uighur labor.

Beijing is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, and if the CCP’s campaign of cultural genocide does not stop, the U.S. and its allies should consider an attempt to block the country from hosting the illustrious event. If imprisoning 1 million people in concentration camps is not enough of a reason to lose host privileges, then what would be?

The fact that these atrocities are taking place in a remote part of the world far from public view is even more of a reason that the U.S. should continue to assume global leadership and work to promote and secure the rights and freedoms of the Uighur people.

Editorial by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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