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Allegations of 'Muslim oppression' in Xinjiang unreliable

By Md Enamul Hassan (People's Daily Online)    16:58, July 27, 2020

Psychologist Tom Stafford has said that repetition makes a fact seem more true, regardless of whether it is or not. In psychology, this is known as the “illusion of truth” effect. Nazi information minister Joseph Goebbels made the effect his propaganda law and said, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”. The US and some of its Western allies have been applying this propaganda law against its opponents around the world for a long time. As the US-led “war on terror” has faded away under the changing circumstances, the country has started suffering from pending replacement anxiety about China. 

The diplomatic envoys talk with a student in the vocational training center in Kashi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Dec. 29, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

As a result, the US-led alliance has replaced Islamic terrorism with China as its number one potential threat to its global dominance. The alliance has targeted the Chinese counter-terrorism measures in Xinjiang to defame China. When the alliance was fully engaged in the “war on terror”, they had nothing but praise for the Chinese measures. But the Western powers are now singing another tune and labeling Xinjiang terrorists as “freedom fighters”. They have become critics of the Chinese moves to the extent that whenever China arrests terrorists, they falsely label it as “targeting innocent civilians”.

Following their governments' lines, many Western media are also spinning yarns about so-called “Muslim oppression” in Xinjiang. They have long been cooking up stories of concentration camps, forced labor, demolition of mosques, barring Muslims from practicing their religion, sinicization of Islam, mass surveillance, human rights violations, and curbing Uyghur births.

As a journalist, I feel the need to let the world know the reality about the fake and fabricated stories of “Muslim oppression” in Xinjiang. In doing so, I have traced the origin of the much-circulated stories of concentration camps and detentions of over one million Muslims, and curbing Uyghur births.

I have found the name of a German researcher, Adrian Zenz, linked to these stories. He is a commonly cited source for the number of detainees and the camps. The Grayzone, an independent news outlet, published some findings on Zenz, stating that he is a senior fellow at the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, an anti-communist organization founded by the US government in 1994.

Zenz claims there are “over a million” Uyghurs in the camps. He ridiculously bases his claims on a single report from Istiqlal TV, a channel that advances a pro-Xinjiang separatist agenda. This background can easily help anyone understand that he is sponsored by the US government and that the authenticity of his claims are doubtful at best. But Western media have given the claim uncritical coverage.

Recently, Western media published another report on birth controls in Xinjiang, again referring to the same German researcher in their report. In the findings of his research, Zenz, who has never been to Xinjiang, accused the Chinese government of using sterilization, IUDs, and mandatory birth control measures to suppress Uyghur birth rates.

Many experts are of the view that the research is full of flaws, citing various inconsistencies in its data analysis. I have also found some reasons to consider it untrustworthy. One important reason is that the German researcher interviewed only eight women in his research, all of whom live in the US and are supporters of the Xinjiang separatist movement. The number of interviewees seems to be too few to reach any conclusion based on their opinions about the entire population of Xinjiang. I think that in this case too, Western media have compromised their reputation by giving wide coverage to the research findings without questioning it.

To my eyes, the anatomy of the much-circulated stories about so-called concentration camps, detentions of over one million Muslims and curbing Uyghur births can help people understand the authenticity of many more fake stories about Xinjiang. But it would not be strange to ask: why do Western media disseminate such untrustworthy stories about Xinjiang?

In reply, I have identified three major reasons - the rise of China, its deep ties with Muslims around the world, and the geo-political-economic importance of Xinjiang, as the US seems determined to contain the rise of China by any means. For this purpose, the US may want to make around two billion Muslims stand up against China by using fake and fabricated stories of so-called Muslim oppression in Xinjiang. If the US can succeed in making Muslims hostile to China, the world’s second-largest economy may lose the huge markets of Muslim countries, resulting in massive economic losses.

Moreover, since time immemorial, Xinjiang has geo-strategically and economically been an important region. The most well-known route of the historical Silk Road ran through the territory from the east to its northwestern border. The recent discovery of abundant oil and mineral reserves in Xinjiang has made it the largest natural gas-producing region in China. The China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has also added more economic value to Xinjiang. The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, a collection of infrastructure projects under the BRI cooperation in Pakistan valued at $62 billion as of 2017, runs through Xinjiang.

The Kazakhstan–China oil pipeline, which allows China to import oil from Central Asia, runs from Kazakhstan to Xinjiang, while the Central Asia–China gas pipeline has also connected Turkmenistan to Xinjiang, allowing China to import gas. These two pipelines have made the region economically more lucrative.

In a geostrategic context, Xinjiang is of crucial significance to influencing political developments in South, Southeast and Central Asia, as Xinjiang borders Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. The rugged Karakoram, Kunlun and Tianshan mountain ranges also occupy much of the borders and Western and Southern regions of Xinjiang. It also borders the Tibet Autonomous Region and the provinces of Gansu and Qinghai in China.

Given this analysis, it can easily be concluded that all allegations of “Muslim oppression” in Xinjiang are unreliable. Some Western media have long been running such untrustworthy stories to contain the rise of China. They have made Xinjiang the target of their smear campaigns against China because of its geo-political-economic importance, and because of its Muslim populace. They thus want to isolate China from the rest of the world, and in particular, the Muslim community. However, no matter how much it is criticized, China cannot give up its sovereignty over Xinjiang, just as no country can surrender any of its parts to terrorists and separatists.

The author is the China Correspondent of the Bangladesh Post. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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