If we should have learned anything from the first half of the 20th century is that simply accepting the systematic subjegation of minorty groups can lead to horrific outcomes. For a while in the late 20th century, it felt like these sorts of actions were beyond realpolitik and there would be true international condemnation and shame. I wish those days were still with us.
It's personally been very eye-opening for me over the past decade to see just how much the size of a country's economy can wielded as club to silence international opposition and how easily the international community goes along with it. I was always aware intellectually that the world revolves around economics/business/trade interests, but seeing so many otherwise liberal/progressive countries remain conspicuously silent in so many areas where retaliation from Beijing is virtually assured has really been both disappointing and sort of amazing to watch at the same time.
That's the big shift occurring since the end of WWII. Countries lost power and influence to businesses & companies, every decade it's been more and more visible until the situation of today.
In China, there's not much difference between the big companies and the government anyway.
Just the last decade? The United States has been doing this to other countries for the last century or more.
The British Empire did it for hunreds of years before that.
I'm glad you liked the post.
If I am understanding your argument correctly, it is that the wave of highly publicized acts of terrorism in the early 2000s, combined with cultural isolation between Han Chinese and Uyghurs, led to the mass internment program?
A short article I read on the issue quotes David Kaplan as saying, “The repression of the Turkic Uyghur Muslim community in western China…is a key part of Beijing’s new imperial policy,” and that the Belt and Road Initiative “requires the complete subjugation of the Uyghur population”. (Sadly, I don't know what the Belt and Road Initiative is, either.)
Is this also consistent with your views?
If you buy into the view that all Uyghurs are potential terrorists, then having an important trade route go directly through their territory would certainly make it into a juicy target for terrorist attacks. That said, even then there's no need to depopulate the entire province, which is almost as large as Alaska (though much of it is desert). Security corridors a few kilometers wide should be enough for even the most paranoid.
I don't think there's a fully rational explanation of the treatment that Uyghurs receive in terms of some kind of objective the Chinese government wants to achieve. My personal best guess is that someone high up in the hierarchy is on a power trip and the rest of the leadership doesn't care enough to stop them.
> While the separation of inmates into categories was merely a tactical-organisatory measure for the the purpose of administration of the camps, the arbitrariness of committal demonstrates the essential principle of the institution as such. The existance of a political opposition is just a pretext for the concentration camp system, and its purpose is not achieved when the population more or less voluntarily conforms as consequence of the most monstrous deterrence, that is, to give up its political rights. The arbitrariness has the purpose to deprive those under the totalitarian regime of all their rights as citizens, which finally become as outlawed [vogelfrei] in their own country as otherwise only the stateless and homeless. The deprivation of humans of their rights, the killing of the juridical person in them is just a precondition of their being totally controlled, for which even voluntary agreement is a hindrance . And this is not just the case for special categories of criminals, political enemies, Jews, on which it was tested first, but for every citizen of a totalitarian country.
>  [Related to that is the fact that all propaganda and ["Weltanschauungslehre"] was expressly forbidden in the camps. (also see Himmler, "Wesen und Aufgabe der SS und der Polizei"). And together with this in turn it has to be considered that that teaching and propaganda was also not allowed for the guarding elite formations; their Weltanschauung was not to be "teached", but "exercized" (see Robert Ley)]
-- Hannah Arendt
And hey, everybody in a (totalitarian) hierarchy is on a power trip. Even shining boots at low ranks with no intent to rise is still more being part of that power trip than not. I think being powerful (in the alienated, destructive sense of the word) and "just following orders" (or "just doing business") are all great ways for people to avoid actually living and facing themselves, they're different sides of the same coin.
But that presupposes they have seen it before. Many things are censored in China. For example the 4th of June, 1989 is censored because that's when the Tiananmen Square protest and subsequent massacre occurred:
You can't learn from history if you don't have the opportunity to learn the history in the first place.
Censorship is not an excuse for their behavior. It's a further criticism of the Chinese state. The suppression of ideas and history is something which makes outcomes like these more likely.
Why? Besides Tiananmen, China has the same government and leadership culture that perpetrated the Cultural Revolution. Going back slightly further to the 1800s, the Taiping Rebellion killed 20-70 million people in China, humanity's bloodiest rebellion/Civil War. Chinese culture has a looooong history of violent repression of internal dissent IMO....
But if your baseline expectations are low, you are rarely disappointed. For an organization or individual to have its expectations changed from "low" to "high", there should be some basis for such an upgrade, primarily actions taken by the organization that demonstrate higher performance (for whatever metric you are using to define "performance", in this case protection of human rights).
Does the Chinese Communist Party have a demonstrable history of embracing or advancing human rights? IMO, no. So they remain at the "low expectations" baseline.
It may take some introspection, but please don't spread things that may not be well-informed.
It may take some introspection, but please try to understand that your experience is not universal.
2. I don't have any numbers, and I doubt you do either.
In any case, your cute platitude of "you can't learn from history if you don't have the opportunity to learn the history in the first place" is incorrect in implying that Chinese people have no way to access this information and general in such a way that it suggests that you are indeed uninformed (or else you would never make such a sweeping statement). While my anecdote is indeed not representative of what happens at large, I believe strongly that I have better information about this than you do, and would bet everything I have that I've discussed this issue with more Chinese people affected by this than you have.
But I supposed this is a pointless argument (since you/I have no way of verifying any of this). I only ask that you think a little next time before irresponsibly spreading misinformation about a group of people that I suspect you've probably never meaningfully interacted with, as this particular post gives the impression that Chinese people are helpless enough in the face of censorship that they don't know their own history.
Again, my whole argument is predicated on the assumption that I have better information than you do based on my experiences, but if you have better information, please show me as I'm pretty curious about this myself.
There is no "depends".
> 2. I don't have any numbers, and I doubt you do either.
> I suspect you've probably never meaningfully interacted with
Your suspicions are irrelevant.
Did you read these links yourself? One of the your links only mentions that it's not taught in school, others are also based on anecdotal evidence (some of which express that it's sometimes taught in schools and that some people know but don't care). The one statistic that I found in your articles asked about the tank man and not the event itself, and even then their number was 15/100, which is low but not zero.
I don't disagree with what's expressed in these links. I disagree with your characterization of people in China having zero access to this information. If you find my opinions/suspicions/admonitions irrelevant, that's a personal issue. I'm good as long as it's been communicated to you (apparently it has).
Your condescension is tedious in the extreme.
> Did you read these links yourself?
Did you? Read some more:
> If you find my opinions/suspicions/admonitions irrelevant
Show me some data to back your assertions. If you cannot then your opinions/suspicions/admonitions and anecdotes are irrelevant.
> I'm good as long as it's been communicated to you
Nothing has been communicated but your lazy outlook. I suspect you lack seriousness.
I insinuated no such thing. Re-read what I have written. Do it carefully this time.
As I suspected, you lack seriousness.
It's certainly more than I was taught about China in turn. I don't think even the German colonial presence in Qingdao was ever mentioned.
Until the photos spreaded, controversy follows, then it gets banned.
Do they expect to just continue on with this heavily antagonistic relationship with the Uyghurs forever? Wouldn't that cause an increasing risk of some kind of an uprising?
Or do they expect that after a generation or so, the Uyghurs will largely assimilate into the Han culture? Wouldn't that require a lot more subtle and delicate policy? In any case, I really doubt it's realistic; if it was, I'd think it would have already been done. Also, the example of the former USSR suggests that even in a highly authoritarian and centralized country, ethnic tensions remain.
But anyway, it'd be better if Xinjiang were independent. Or even if it had been occupied by Russia, as the "stans" and Mongolia were. But so it goes.
And arguably, if there were some area, occupied by China, that was populated largely by Jews or Slavs or some other Western European ethnic group, they'd be just as screwed as the Uyghurs are.
Edit: If someone actually has some evidence that TFA is wrong, and that Buddhist Han Chinese were historically the majority in Xinjiang, please share. Everything that I've found online does seem to agree.
For more details see RCT, which specifies that ingroup bonding accompanies outgroup hostility. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realistic_conflict_theory
The point is that they're both derivatives of Judaism. Along with some minor offshoots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And a bunch of others that haven't survived.
Uyghurs are Muslim - which is most definitely not "Judeo-Christian" but is Abrahamic. The term "Judeo-Christian" is effectively erasure of Islam (intentional or not) and is typically used to suggest cultural distance between Islam and Judaism/Christianity
I'm pretty sure that if there is any sense in which the Uyghurs were Judeo-Christian for centuries, they were also Buddhist for centuries in the same sense. But I tend to doubt the premise.
And all of that is totally different from old-school Han.
Where do you get Buddhist from? TFA says:
> The most populous ethnicity in Xinjiang was Uyghur, though the scales have tipped as more Han Chinese have moved into the province. Uyghurs are Turkic in ethnicity and language, look very different from Han Chinese, and are typically Muslim.
So is it accurate?
Edit: But actually, China's behavior in the 18th and 19th centuries was worse.
> Xinjiang consists of two main geographically, historically, and ethnically distinct regions with different historical names, Dzungaria north of the Tianshan Mountains and the Tarim Basin south of the Tianshan Mountains, before Qing China unified them into one political entity called Xinjiang province in 1884. At the time of the Qing conquest in 1759, Dzungaria was inhabited by the Dzongar people, a steppe dwelling, nomadic Mongol-related ethnic group who practiced Tibetan Buddhist. Meanwhile, the Tarim Basin was inhabited by sedentary, oasis dwelling, Turkic speaking Muslim farmers, now known as the Uyghur people. They were governed separately until 1884. The native Uyghur name for the Tarim Basin is Altishahr.
> In the Dzungar genocide the Manchus exterminated the native Buddhist Dzungar Oirat Mongolic speaking people from their homeland of Dzungaria in Northern Xinjiang and resettled the area with a variety of different ethnic groups.
> The Qing "final solution" of genocide to solve the problem of the Dzungar Mongols, made the Qing sponsored settlement of millions of Han Chinese, Hui, Turkestani Oasis people (Uyghurs) and Manchu Bannermen in Dzungaria possible, since the land was now devoid of Dzungars.
The name "Uyghur" goes back quite a long way, and originally refers to a Turkic group. Modern Uyghurs are only tenuously related to the ancient Uyghurs -- as noted, modern Uyghurs are visually distinct from the Chinese. Modern Uyghurs are a recent hybrid population between a Turkic group and a Caucasoid (Iranian?) group. Compare the Mongols, who do look like Chinese.
I assumed you might be talking about some remote point in time during which the ancient Uyghurs were Jewish or Christian; that is where I got "also Buddhist" from.
> If that article is accurate, then China actually has a better claim on Xinjiang than the Uyghurs do.
> So is it accurate?
If you're going to start talking about what things have been like in the region for centuries, this is kind of an embarrassing question to have to ask.
> But actually, China's behavior in the 18th and 19th centuries was worse.
What did China do in the 18th and 19th centuries? The Manchu emperor conquered Xinjiang over the objections of his Chinese officials, who took the position that it wasn't part of China and he had no business invading it. If (1) Germany conquered Poland, and then (2) Germany conquered France, why would France hold a grudge against Poland?
But the aspect that's hard to keep in mind is how far back China's relationship with Xinjiang (and Tibet, for that matter) goes. Centuries. So this is not just some post-WWII thing. Like China just occupied Xinjiang, and they're oppressing the locals.
I mean, there's support (albeit fringe) among Mexicans and Mexican immigrants in the west and southwest for Reconquista. The argument that California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas ought to be part of Mexico.
There's also some Native American support for secession from the US. The Comanche, for example. And really, indigenous Mexicans are really just Native Americans. In Mexico and Guatemala, once you get away from large cities, especially up in the mountains, Spanish is a second language for the locals. They fled to the mountains during Spanish colonization, and they've been there ever since.
So the time frames for the colonization of the Americas by Europeans and China's interactions with Xinjiang overlapped considerably. And the many millions of Native American deaths could be considered, at least in part, genocide.
Really, the Chinese are managing Uyghurs a lot like Americans managed surviving Native Americans. And how Canadians have even more recently managed the Inuit. So I get how China might tell foreigners to fsck off.
> If you're going to start talking about what things have been like in the region for centuries, this is kind of an embarrassing question to have to ask.
There are no "embarrassing questions".
> The name "Uyghur" goes back quite a long way, and originally refers to a Turkic group. Modern Uyghurs are only tenuously related to the ancient Uyghurs -- as noted, modern Uyghurs are visually distinct from the Chinese. Modern Uyghurs are a recent hybrid population between a Turkic group and a Caucasoid (Iranian?) group. Compare the Mongols, who do look like Chinese.
OK, so you argue that TFA is wrong about current Uyghurs being a "Turkic group".
I'm getting the feeling that there's some anti-Chinese propaganda at play here. Just as there was anti-Russian propaganda about the Ukraine. Not that either the Chinses or the Russians are beyond criticism.
- Yes, the Qing wiped out the Dzunghars. But that was not a Chinese policy. That was a policy the Chinese objected to.
- The Uyghurs are not survivors of the Dzunghar genocide. The Dzunghars were wiped out. The Uyghurs moved into the void left by the Dzunghars. This differs conceptually from indigenous Mexicans retreating into the mountains -- the Uyghurs look more like the Spanish in that analogy.
- The two centuries since the conquest of Xinjiang or the American Revolution are not, from a historical viewpoint, a long time. Chinese relations with the area of Xinjiang go back thousands of years, not a trifling couple of centuries. The idea that this is a long-lasting situation comes across as strange. America is known for its exceptional newness as a country, not for its long-established traditions.
> The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing ... was the last imperial dynasty of China. It was established in 1636, and ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912.
So how are "the Qing" distinct from "the Chinese"? Are you saying that it was Qing imperial policy, but that popular Chinese opinion, or the opinions of regional governments, opposed it?
I get that the Uyghurs are not survivors of the Dzunghar genocide. And that they were one of the peoples that the Chinese moved into the area.
But I disagree that "the Uyghurs look more like the Spanish in that analogy". I don't know specifics about Mexico, but I do know that the Spanish exploited enmity among various indigenous groups. And that many Aztec subjects helped them take down the Aztecs. I mean, there weren't that many in Cortez's party.
So anyway, I'm pretty sure that there are many instances where the Spanish displaced one indigenous group with another. In the Caribbean, they committed genocide, and brought in African slaves.
Bottom line, though, I now see that "Chinese relations with the area of Xinjiang go back thousands of years, not a trifling couple of centuries". And so I'm more sympathetic to China.
Right now there are a few popular movements in China that do things like wear 14th-century clothing in their free time because what has come to be viewed as "traditional Chinese clothing" is, in their view, actually Manchu, having become popular under the Qing. Chinese-language tours of the Forbidden City will emphasize that although the Qing imperial family lived there and governed from there, the City was built in the Ming dynasty and is therefore authentically Chinese.
In other words, the distinction between the Qing ruling classes and the Chinese people has always been deeply felt on both sides, and still is.
In response to your edit a couple levels up:
> OK, so you argue that TFA is wrong about current Uyghurs being a "Turkic group".
I wouldn't put it that strongly. (I'll admit my wording there was pretty poor.) The current Uyghurs speak a Turkic language and broadly share a culture with other Turkic-speaking peoples around them. It's fair to call them a "Turkic group". But I think it's an error to assume they have very much in common with the ancient people also called the Uyghurs, and in particular they are not ethnically Turkic in the same way that the ancient Uyghurs were ethnically Turkic. But they are ethnically Turkic in the same way that the modern Turks (in Turkey) are ethnically Turkic.
(While we're on the subject of classifying ethnies by the language they speak, I'll note that the Manchu language does not belong to the Sino-Tibetan (Chinese) language family.)
> I'm pretty sure that there are many instances where the Spanish displaced one indigenous group with another. In the Caribbean, they committed genocide, and brought in African slaves.
Sure, the analogy between those Africans and the modern Uyghurs is much tighter than between the Spanish and the Uyghurs.
And an off-topic question. I've always been struck by the apparent inversion of terms for deities between the Hindus and Persians.
Hindus: benevolent Devas and their ~enemies Asuras
Persians: good gods Ahuras vs bad gods Daevas
Then we have the term "devil", which sounds a lot like "deva/daeva". And maybe even "asura/ahura" to "angel"?
Am I just tripping, or is there something to that?
My go-to for etymological questions is https://www.etymonline.com . Looking up the entries for "Ahura Mazda", "Asmodeus", "deva", and "devil", we see that yes, ahura and asura are the same word (descending from an Indo-European root meaning "spirit", and cognate with the Norse Asa-gods), and daeva and deva are also the same word (descending from a root meaning "shine", and cognate with e.g. "divine").
"Devil" is not related to deva/daeva/divine, though -- it comes from a Greek word meaning "slander" or "attack". The "de" part is the Greek prefix dia-, "across", and the "vil" part is the Greek root -ball-, "throw". (This is clearer in the preserved adjective form, "diabolical".) So similarity to "deva" is a coincidence. Similarly, "angel" is a word of unknown origin, not related to ahura/asura. (In ancient Greek, anggelos is an ordinary word referring to ordinary messengers.)
Etymology is certainly an interest of mine, but I'm curious why you chose to ask me about it. It's not obvious to me where I suggested that I might know the answer to your question (which I didn't) or how to find out (which I did).
I asked because you seem knowledgeable about cultures. Whereas I'm 100% a science geek.
When I went to China, I definitely got along better with my Han Chinese friends, coworkers and acquaintances. Granted, there weren’t many Uighurs there, but interacting with them felt very shallow. And it wasn’t a Muslim issue, as the ones I met that were Hui were very friendly.
There is a difference between me and other expats: I can speak and understand Mandarin. I find the interactions with Chinese people changes dramatically when you speak to them in Mandarin.
Can you elaborate?
I found it carefully written and well worth sharing.
> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.
If the reports are true, then what's happening in Xinjiang is horrible. However, if you look at the comments section in this site you can tell that that's not the real reason they're being posted. Posts of these kind are posted primarily as rhetorical fodder, and in the case of this article, seeks to paint all Chinese as [sic] "unformed" racists. Notice how the author generalizes both Uighers and Han from maybe one or two meetings. Notice how when describing the government, the article claims that the people "forced the hand of a hard-line government".
In the other thread one user is now advocating for the expulsion of Han people(notice this implicit conflation of Han with Chinese, imagine claiming only Whites are American) living in the region, and claiming that they "are not innocent".
If you actually speak with anyone in China, you'll realize that Middle Eastern culture is held to a high regard, and that the majority of people are more sympathetic towards the Uighers. The more this tragedy gets used as political fodder, the harder it is to voice domestic opposition. Contrary to popular belief the CCP is not omnipotent, and the rest of the world does not need to be invaded to progress.
Of course the commenters on this site would rather everyone in China whether they be Han, Uigher, Manchu, or Mongol, be "liberated" Iraq style.
I understand why people outside the U.S. (assuming you refer mainly to American commenters) could develop this impression, but in my experience the situation is quite the opposite.
Anecdotally, I’m an American with family in government/the military and friends of every political stripe. Nobody I know thinks the Iraq invasion was a good idea or would want to repeat it elsewhere.
Submission is clearly on-topic. Country sets up concentration camps; big tech aids and abets at every turn; Google comes this close to building them a bespoke censorship machine. Clearly relevant in a technical forum, beyond merely "gratify[ing] intellectual curiosity". Never forget:
As far as the quantity of downvotes, far be it from me to suggest that a nationalistic pride and defensiveness might grip the Xi regime's many apologists.
Please don't miss the irony of you complaining about full screen modals on an article discussing xenophobic genocide. You may experience some down votes for venting your first world problems at a poorly chosen time.
That all depends on your perspective. Xinjiang used to be where the Dzunghar Mongols lived. The Uyghurs are just the people who filled the vacuum.
I'm sure I'll get downmodded to hell for pointing this out, but what's happening in xinjiang right now is a mass internment, with terrorism as the casus belli. It might turn into ethnic cleansing in the near future. It's unlikely to turn into genocide, and it's definitely not right now.
Israel is doing some horrible things as well, but the conversation around it is much more muted and balanced. A US politician was even rebuked for talking about “Israeli political influence” but would have been praised if she warned about “Chinese influence.”
Bad analogy, because the vast majority of the Uighurs are ordinary people who are being hurt by a capricious dragnet.
The proper analogy is the WW2 Japanese Internment of Japanese Americans by the FDR government.
The language you’re using denudes the situation of any semblance of the real horror of it. The ‘control and order’ you’re talking about goes far beyond putting up security checkpoints or arresting people for disorder, they’re sending people to re-education camps for the mere suspicion of opposition and they are forcibly trying to “HANify” these people’s culture away unlike the other ethnic minorities in China like the Dong, Miao, Hui, or Yi.
Is it an internal manner? Sure. Do I have to ageee with it? Nope, it does not absolve the PRC of criticism.
The usage of terrorism to erect a security surveillance state should be opposed everywhere.