By Roland Watson
July 27, 2009
We recommend the history of China given in the Nine
Commentaries on the Communist Party.)
The Uyghur people in East Turkestan are restless. Throughout history, Chinese emperors and warlords has repeatedly invaded their land, only to be pushed back. In the modern era, China took control in the late 19th century. East Turkestan was renamed the "New Territory." Excepting two short periods when they again won their freedom, the Uyghur people have been under increasingly restrictive dictatorial rule ever since. Since 1949, they have been under the boot of the Communist Party of China (CCP).
As the name of their homeland implies, the Uyghur are a Turkic people. They share ethnic and language characteristics with similar peoples across Central Asia all the way to Turkey itself. But, whereas these other peoples now have their own nations, the Uyghurs, because they were conquered by the Chinese, do not. East Turkestan is a colony of China.
The CCP's policy has been to dilute the Uyghur population in East Turkestan and hence their argument that it is their land. Uyghurs have been sent to China as factory workers, and Han Chinese moved in. In both cases, the Uyghurs have been the victims of discrimination. In China, Uyghur workers must slave away under terrible labor conditions. In East Turkestan, they are denied good jobs, government posts, the right to be educated in their own language, and to carry on their cultural traditions.
A basic question is if the Chinese conquest of the Uyghur constitutes genocide. Historically, it was a land grab, no different from innumerable such conquests over the ages. In the modern context, the CCP has realized that East Turkestan is also valuable for it oil and mineral resources, its barren sections - which were used for China's atomic tests and now its space program, etc. The CCP is loathe to return the conquered territory, to prevent the loss of this plunder.
According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,
"genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
It is difficult to argue that the CCP's treatment constitutes genocide, although it is guilty to some degree of the first four conditions. Rather, what the communists are doing in East Turkestan is equivalent to their actions in Tibet, which the Dalai Lama has described as Cultural Genocide. The Uyghurs, like the Tibetans, may survive, but their culture will not.
This year the CCP has been destroying the Old Quarter of Kashgar, one of the most important stopping points on the ancient Silk Road. The Party says that this is because of the risk to the Quarter from earthquakes, even though it has survived for thousands of years. The destruction of Old Kashgar is a cultural atrocity no less profound that the destruction in Afghanistan of the Bamiyan Buddhas. And, it is being accompanied by the forced relocation of 220,000 Uyghur people. The real reasons for the destruction are simple: cultural genocide combined with armed robbery of Uyghur property.
The Chinese say that the Uyghurs are ungrateful for "development." This development is really "theft."
The latest unrest in East Turkestan - the Uyghurs have protested numerous times in recent decades, only to be met with CCP massacres - followed the killing of Uyghur laborers in China. Some 3,000 Uyghurs protested peacefully in East Turkestan's capital, Urumqi, (videos of the march are widely available) only to be shot by CCP "security forces" when night fell (yet another massacre). The Uyghurs fled and some of the protesters turned their anger on Chinese immigrants. The Chinese then retaliated.
As also occurred with the Tiananmen Square massacre twenty years ago, the CCP has yet to give a truthful accounting of the events of the unrest and of the numbers of Uyghurs and Chinese who died. Instead, the CCP blamed the Uyghurs for everything, which is the classic propaganda strategy of "blaming the victim." Rapists blame the women who they rape, and the CCP blames everyone. (The Party never accepts any responsibility itself.) The actions of the Uyghur groups that attacked the Chinese were reprehensible, but as with all cases where both sides in a conflict commit atrocities, it is essential to recall how the problem began. The Uyghurs are upset because they were invaded by the Chinese. This began a more than one hundred year pattern of increasingly severe repression. It is the Chinese - since 1949 the CCP - that bears all the blame for the problems in East Turkestan.
The Chinese people have been conditioned by the CCP to view the Uyghurs as backward, if not savages. They are the enemy. When Chinese police confront protesters in China, they make arrests. With Uyghurs, they commit cold-blooded murder. Because of the conditioning, the Chinese people accept such extreme prejudice as completely justifiable.
This is consistent with the unprecedented brainwashing that has been perpetrated by the CCP on the people of China since the Party was formed. (The term "brainwashing" was coined to describe CCP "thought-reform" torture techniques.)
The CCP is based on the ideology of "struggle," specifically, class struggle against "class enemies." The people must fight and cleanse wayward social elements (the "black" classes) to establish a utopian state. The real goal of never-ending struggle, though, is (1) to justify the CCP's rule; (2) to purge elements within the Party and society at large that oppose its abuses; and (3) more generally to terrorize everyone through arbitrary persecution, and hence create the greatest possible conformity.
Starting under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the CCP blamed one group after another for China's perceived problems, and launched "movements" against them. There have been countless such movements. Their targets have included landowners and rich farmers in the countryside; capitalists in towns and cities; "reactionaries" and "counter-revolutionaries"; "rightists"; intellectuals (anyone well-educated); religious groups; etc.
(When the CCP targeted landowners and capitalists, including by banning private property, they effectively stole the entire nation of China, just as through invading East Turkestan and Tibet they stole these lands as well.)
Mao said that, "after chaos the world reaches peace, but in seven or eight years, the chaos needed to happen again." In other words, China required regular civil wars. In each such conflict, the CCP followed a 5%/95% formula. Five percent of the people were labeled class enemies, and who should be killed. The rest were designated "acceptable classes," and charged with doing the killing. This created a perpetual state of fear, which continues today, because you can never be certain that your class will remain acceptable.
Through this the CCP promoted the idea of "collective guilt." If you had an unacceptable class origin, you - and your entire family - were flawed, and fully deserving of capital punishment. Even the babies and the elderly in the black classes were killed.
The CCP, for six decades, has encouraged the Chinese people to kill each other. In the worst cases, such as during the Cultural Revolution, the murder became competitive, as a means to improve one's revolutionary standing.
This history has dehumanized the Chinese people. It has further caused Chinese society to be permeated by fear.
There have also been unspeakable atrocities. The use of public executions in some cases led to public displays of cannibalism, of the organs such as the heart and liver of the executed class enemies, and then to cannibalistic feasts. The last were even held in front - and with the participation - of children, many of whom became deranged.
Under CCP rule the Chinese people have suffered upwards of eighty million unnatural deaths, from murder, starvation, etc. The CCP's tyranny is without question the greatest crime ever perpetrated in human history, surpassing the crimes of Hitler and the Nazis, Imperial Japan, and Stalin.
This crime, or rather series of crimes, is also completely unpunished. The Chinese people, and the many other victims of the CCP, have yet to receive any justice.
Because of this, the CCP further is entirely unreformed. Its strategy has worked and it is still in power. While as mentioned people generally are no longer murdered publicly in China itself, millions have been unjustly sentenced to the Laogai (forced labor and reeducation camps), and where death is common. And, the enemy-creation movements continue, including against the students at Tiananmen; followers of the spiritual discipline, Falun Gong; the Tibetans; anyone who spoke up for human rights in the run-up to the Olympics: pro-democracy activists such as the signers of the Charter 08 document; and now the East Turkestanis.
For the Falun Gong, which the CCP despises because it promotes tradition and morality, the Party has killed a documented 3,900 practitioners, although the true number is many times this, because of the great number of practitioners who have simply "disappeared." Most of these murders involved torture, and of an extraordinarily wide variety (over 100 techniques have been identified), including beating of the genitals, electric shock, flaying of the skin and then being drenched with salt water, etc. Many women have been stripped naked and then thrown into cells with criminals to be gang-raped. And, once dead, the victims organs are stolen for transplantation.
In East Turkestan the CCP has launched a series of Strike Hard movements, against the so-called Three Evils of separatism, extremism and terrorism. Thousands of Uyghurs have been imprisoned, tortured and killed.
What is surprising about this history is that the Chinese people are for the most part ignorant of it. The CCP has the largest censorship and propaganda program in the world, including its Great Internet Firewall, which an army of technicians maintains (by blocking websites, censoring blogs, fabricating and disseminating lies, etc.). Moreover, the fear in China, even though it is now less publicly apparent, is still so strong under the surface that most people simply do not want to know.
The greatest recent development has been the international targeting of CCP propaganda at Chinese residents of other countries, the media, and foreign governments. For example, the propaganda has led to an explosion in ultra-nationalism, which was particularly evident with the harassment of Chinese CCP critics during the Beijing Olympics. (The height of all ironies is that the CCP fancies itself to be a new China Empire, and surely this is what Mao had in mind, even as he criticized, and destroyed the remnants of, former empires.) Similarly, many expatriate Chinese, particularly in the United States, have engaged in espionage on behalf of the Party back home.
Indeed, these developments raise an important question: What does it mean to be Chinese?
"Chinese" is a complex identity. You are Chinese, wherever you live in the world, if you are a member of the ethnic group. But, you are also Chinese if you are from China itself, even if you are a member of one of its other groups. Finally, in addition to ethnicity and nationality, there is a cultural identity as well, if you associate with and take pride in Chinese history and traditions. The CCP has destroyed traditional Chinese culture, and replaced it with Party culture. Further, an explicit goal of its propaganda campaign has been to get all ethnic Chinese worldwide to identify with this culture: with the new "Rising China," under the eternal leadership of the CCP.
The CCP is trying to create a global Chinese culture, where all ethnic Chinese people, wherever they may live, are loyal to the Communist Party.
The efficacy of CCP propaganda is also evident with other international parties, with the press and foreign governments, where the basic story line is that the CCP has been reformed, and that it is an acceptable partner in trade and diplomacy. These are lies as well, but for a variety of reasons they have achieved great traction.
For the press, and returning to East Turkestan, journalists have consistently reported the lies of the "State Media" about the events of early July, as if they were truth. They have presented the casualty count, and the breakdown between Uyghur and Chinese victims, as truth even though these figures are completely fabricated. One reason for this is that many journalists are sloppy, and accept the CCP's arguments and statistics as they are given. Another is that some journalists are willing to repeat the "party line," to preserve access.
It was extremely telling that during the unrest in Iran that followed the stolen election, most media qualified their reports by mentioning Iranian government restrictions on journalists and the Internet. Such disclaimers have been rare for coverage of East Turkestan.
Similarly, for foreign governments, China is now such an important economic factor that they appear willing to forgive the CCP virtually anything, if not work actively on its behalf. For East Turkestan, some neighboring states, notably Kazakhstan, have allied with the CCP even though the Kazaks are Turkic people as well (and with a long history of friendship with the Uyghurs). The Kazakh government recently signed a $10 billion deal with China. Identical relationships also exist with other members of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, including East Turkestan's neighbors Kyrgystan and Tajikistan. And finally, Western partners including the United States and Europe have also been silent on East Turkestan, not only the current repression but the entire history of Communist Party domination.
The communists believed that they had history on their side: that their socialist utopia was inevitable. They were wrong. The real historical imperative lies with democracy.
Ultimately, the CCP will relinquish power and democracy in China will flourish. As part of this, China will decolonize.
While the Communist Party will oppose the loss of its colonies with all its might (just as the buyers of the art looted by the Nazis have done everything possible not to return the art to its original owners or heirs), China one day will break up. East Turkestan will be returned to the Uyghurs and also Tibet to the Tibetans and Southern Mongolia to the Southern Mongolians. Communism is a defeated ideology, as is dictatorship more generally in all its different forms. Human rights will prevail. A basic right at the group level is the right of self-determination. The Uyghurs, Tibetans and Southern Mongolians will secure this right.
The people, governments and media of the world should support this right. It will be much easier to attain if they do.
When China, finally, is freed from the grips of the CCP, the people of the country will be able to confront their past, and seek justice for the wrongs that they have suffered. But, this should extend not only to the specific atrocities of the communists, but more generally to China's imperial, authoritarian tradition, which the communists publicly rejected but in practice simply reinvented.
The entire history of China has been based on the ideal of the unconditional acceptance of authority. (This is known as the philosopher-king or "benevolent dictatorship." Plato argued that it was the best form of government.) When rulers are good, this approach works: The society is at peace. But blind acceptance of authority also opens oneself to the risk of power-mad tyrants. There were bad emperors in China in the past, but no one has ever rivaled the likes of Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and now Hu Jintao. The bad emperors were overthrown, and some day - soon - the communists will be so as well. However, it is only through rejecting the underlying authoritarian tradition that has governed China for millennia, that the people of the country will ever achieve and preserve their freedom.