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Uyghurs in Xinjiang – Onward to the Inevitable (unintendedconsequenc.es)
281 points by paulorlando 55 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 111 comments



Wonderful article, but I reject the conclusion that the mass internments and violence were inevitable on principle. Ultimately, the decisions that lead to these outcomes are made by people, people who should be able to say "we've seen this script before, and I don't like where it is going."

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.


> 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.


> 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

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.


But it's not Chinese companies that go around making these threats -- it's the Chinese government with their ability to control those companies or cut off access to them. Same old monopoly on violence that's doing this, just wielded against your trading partners rather than you directly.


> But it's not Chinese companies that go around making these threats -- it's the Chinese government with their ability to control those companies or cut off access to them

In China, there's not much difference between the big companies and the government anyway.


The point is that refusing to trade with someone because they said something you don't like is not a good way to make money, and as such, one way or another, companies wouldn't take such measures were it not for the government's influence, regardless of the precise means of operation of that influence. If it were like you say, we'd see the influence of the companies undoing such government policies so that they can be unrestricted in their trade and make more money. That's not what we see. (Or likely we see it in other areas, but it's clear which way the influence runs in this one.)


> 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.

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.


International politics has always been like this though, powerful countries get to do what they want. Maybe the main reason it's eye-opening for you is because now it's done by a government you do not approve of?


Just as with decisions in China, nothing is truly inevitable here either.


Try /r/LateStageCapitalism/


Just the last decade? Are you American?


It is right to reject that conclusion I drew. I struggled with that part (even whether I should call it "more likely" rather than "inevitable") when I wrote the piece. And after all, it is by rejecting the conclusion real progress can be made. I was just more pessimistic and thought that things were unfolding rather than being decided, perhaps.

I'm glad you liked the post.


I must say that I think you are correct in this being the "glide path", the most likely result of inaction. The moralistic idealist in me just refuses to believe we are trapped by destiny. By writing this article you have done something, and more than most, and I commend you for that. In fact, I think I'll be writing my representatives to ask them what they are doing to investigate the situation. It's a small thing, but at least it's something. Again, thank you.


I also really enjoyed your post. However, I'm completely uninformed about the mass internment of Uyghurs in China, and think that it would have been well-served by a link to some sort of summary of the issue.

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[0] 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?

[0]: https://www.uyghurcongress.org/en/?p=37293


The Belt and Road Initiative is a massive infrastructure project to expand trade routes. One of the planned routes stretches through Xinjiang all the way to Europe.

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.


The purpose is making humans superflous, stripping them of all meaningful agency. Yes, it's not "rational" in that it requires active sickness on part of some, and at least lack of spine in others - it is at home in the realm of psychopathology and diseases rather than the realm of ideas or undertakings - but that doesn't mean it's all just random, either.

> 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 [0]. 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.

> [0] [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.


> people who should be able to say "we've seen this script before, and I don't like where it is going."

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:

https://www.businessinsider.com/china-tiananmen-square-2014-...

You can't learn from history if you don't have the opportunity to learn the history in the first place.


Low expectations, soft bigotry. The elites who are calling these shots have every opportunity to educate themselves, even regarding 6/4, but certainly with regard to the rest of human history. Many studied in the West, where the awful lessons of Western history take a more central role in the conversation. No pass, no pardon, no excuse.


I have high expectations for China. China is failing to meet them. America doesn't meet other of my expectations.

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.


"I have high expectations for China."

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....


You seem to be misunderstanding the usage of the word "expectation" in this context. I want China to meet a higher standard of behavior. China is failing to meet that standard.


Sure, we all wish humanity would "do better".

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.


I have high expectations for a child even if that child hasn't demonstrated better before. Again, you're simply misunderstanding the usage of the word "expectation". That I "expect" better from them means they need to do better, not that they will.


I'm Chinese-American, and literally every Chinese person (from China) I've talked to knows about June 4, 1989. (So much so that it's colloquially referred to as 六四 or "six four".)

It may take some introspection, but please don't spread things that may not be well-informed.


Your anecdote says nothing about what happens in the large. In any case, do you deny that the Tiananmen Square massacre is censored in China? Do you deny that many people don't know about it?

It may take some introspection, but please try to understand that your experience is not universal.


1. It depends on what you mean by censored. If by "censored" you mean a simple search, then yes, I agree. But as far as I can tell (and I'm fairly certain albeit with no way of verifying that I have better information about this than you do), VPNs are commonplace enough in China that this isn't a issue.

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.


> 1. It depends on what you mean by censored.

There is no "depends".

> 2. I don't have any numbers, and I doubt you do either.

https://newrepublic.com/article/117983/tiananmen-square-mass...

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/03/world/asia/china-tiananmen...

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tiananmen-squa...

https://www.vox.com/2014/6/3/5775918/25-years-after-tiananme...

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/04/opinion/tiananmen-forgott...

> I suspect you've probably never meaningfully interacted with

Your suspicions are irrelevant.


Unless you think VPNs don't exist in China, then of course your use of the word "censored" needs to be qualified.

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).


> Unless you think VPNs don't exist in China

Your condescension is tedious in the extreme.

> Did you read these links yourself?

Did you? Read some more:

https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/06/01/317397569/...

> 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.


That NPR link doesn't contradict anything I said. Tedious sure, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't qualify the words you use. But good to know that you read what I wrote! How you choose to process it is up to you.


There's nothing to process. Show me data to back your claims. If you cannot then your claims are irrelevant.


Replying to the thing below: I claimed that your insinuation that no one in China knows about June 4 because of censorship is false. The small-sample survey cited by the Vox and NPR links that you sent support my claim.


> I claimed that your insinuation that no one in China knows about June 4

I insinuated no such thing. Re-read what I have written. Do it carefully this time.

As I suspected, you lack seriousness.


You should re-read what you've written. No qualifications for generalizing statements, so it sounds like you're insinuating what I'm saying you're insinuating.


Good grief this is pointless. Your claims are profoundly dishonest. Find some better honesty.


The decision-makers in this play are all Chinese communist party cadres, and were likely already heavily politically involved at the time of the Tienanmen uprising. Don't forget that many of the party leaders responsible for what's going on in Xinjiang were sent there as a "duty-posting" so they could then move on to higher-level positions back home on the east coast. That's where many of them would have been in 1989. While younger generation raised from 1989 onwards don't know about the events, their parents are certainly aware. Especially, as mentioned, if they were politically active at the time.


Another detail of note is that university students at that time were the country's elite. Which means a large share of them were children of party officials. So a whole lot of high-ranking members in the CCP had children, or friends who had children, who were injured or killed. And the culture of brainwashing, fear and intimidation was strong enough to keep them in line


Is Nazi Germany, the gold standard for bad ideas, censored? Anyone who's read "The rise and fall of the 3rd Reich" should see the danger signs.


I would imagine that Chinese students study Japanese imperialism a lot more than a far away war they didn't materially participate in. But I don't know for sure. In America we study both because the US was involved in both theaters.


Unfortunately the Imperial Japanese history has been heavily used as a propaganda instrument. Students don’t have much chance to learn the “real” history. What little taught also subjects to double standards, e.g. the Japanese were evil to propose the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but China projecting power to the South Sea is totally fine and can never go wrong.


As a German, I was surprised to find out that my Chinese friends learned a lot of German history in school. Not just about the Third Reich, but also 19th-century historical figures like Marx (obviously due to his ideological importance) and Bismarck, the Weimar Republic and some things I don't recall right now.

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.


Most people haven't taken the time to read that book. In East Asian nations the public perception of Nazi Germany isn't nearly as negative as it is in Europe and the Americas.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2016/12/29/why-as...


Make no mistake, Nazi is still being hated, it is just that people aren't that sensitive about its presence. The Nazi costume had appeared in various cosplay exhibitions in China before, and people who aren't aware of the context think it is just some good looking uniform.

Until the photos spreaded, controversy follows, then it gets banned.


I wonder what the Chinese government's long term plan is.

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.


Probably the latter. It's called "Hanification" 汉化, "han hua" where "han" refers to the Han ethnicity (not Chinese national identity which would instead be "zhong" 中). "Hua" means conversion. The phrase has existed for a very long time and it is an idea that people treat "seriously" like you see it in officially sanctioned writing


The observation that the cultural distance between the author and Uyghurs is less than that between the author and Han Chinese rings true for me. I've never been to China, but I've had a similar sense of the distance with Chinese and Muslim friends here in the U.S., even though theoretically I "should" feel closer culturally to my Chinese friends with whom I share a common religion. Very interesting indeed.


Based on TFA, it's pretty clear that Uyghurs and Western Europeans are far more similar than either is to Han Chinese. By appearance, which more-or-less means genetics. And by religion and culture, both Uyghurs and Western Europeans having been Judeo-Christian for centuries.

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.


This comment is sort of funny because the term Judeo-Christian gained prominence is the 1940s as a political tool to unite christians and jews in America (forget all that historical baggage you guys are on the same team!), and here you're essentially doing the same. Maybe good intentioned, but still similar.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian#Inter-group_re...


I'm not trying to unite anyone. I was just pointing out that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are closely related, and only distantly related to anything Han Chinese.


Fun fact, that's how you unite people :)

For more details see RCT, which specifies that ingroup bonding accompanies outgroup hostility. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realistic_conflict_theory


The proper term for the union of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is "Abrahamic religions".

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions


Sure. So I just made up a new term. Whatever.

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.


The "proper term" doesn't matter much when everyone already understands what the person was saying.


> both Uyghurs and Western Europeans having been Judeo-Christian for centuries.

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


Yes, I was wrong in saying "Judeo-Christian".


> both Uyghurs and Western Europeans having been Judeo-Christian for centuries

...what?

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.


Yeah, OK. I was being sloppy. I should have said "Judeo-Christian-Muslim". But really, Muslims and Christians are both basically mutant Jews. Same God. And ~same older prophets. Muslims actually credit Christ as a prophet. Just not the latest one. Pretty much like Mormons, with Joseph Smith.

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.



Huh. If that article is accurate, then China actually has a better claim on Xinjiang than the Uyghurs do.

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.

Damn.


> Uyghurs are Turkic in ethnicity and language, look very different from Han Chinese, and are typically Muslim.

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?


It does say that the Qing committed genocide against the Dzungar Mongols. So that goes beyond "conquered".

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.

Edit:

> 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.


A couple of points:

- 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.


Huh? From Wikipedia:

> 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.


Yes, the Great Qing, 大清, was the last imperial dynasty of China. It was a roughly 300-year period during which the Chinese people did not enjoy self-rule. The Qing was established and ruled by the Manchus, a semi-civilized people from the northeast who conquered the (Chinese) Ming dynasty. Two Qing emperors had Chinese mothers, but the demarcation between Manchus and Chinese was always clear. The queue hairstyle that all male Chinese were legally required to wear as a symbol of subjugation was the Manchu traditional hairstyle. The Chinese hated it. (See: symbol of subjugation.)

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.


Thanks :) That was a very informative thread.

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?


Sanskrit and Persian (or, as you prefer, Hindi and Farsi) are closely related, both belonging to the "Indo-Iranian" branch of the Indo-European language family, so a connection is plausible.

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).


Thanks.

I asked because you seem knowledgeable about cultures. Whereas I'm 100% a science geek.


Obligatory clarification---Mormons also believe Christ was the Son of God.


Ah. Good point. And Muslims obviously don't. So Mormons are far closer to mainstream Christians. Except for the part about Joseph Smith getting briefed by some angel (Moronai, if memory serves). Martin Luther etc never made such claims.


I feel this can be a self fulfilling prophecy.

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.


> Granted, there weren’t many Uighurs there, but interacting with them felt very shallow.

Can you elaborate?


What units do you measure culture in? I feel more similar to my Middle Eastern friends than I do to my Western ones, do any of our opinions have objective merit?


I vouched for this comment, which was previously invisible unless you had showdead toggled on. The thought is expressed civilly and I see no reason for it to be flagged out of the conversation.


FYI, a bit of info rarely covered by Western media. China's attitude towards Uyghurs in the 20th century was super relaxed. As a result, the number of mosques grew from 2000 to 22000, Islam population grew rapidly while secular Uyghurs population shrunk, women started putting on black dresses, and children no longer went to schools and got educated in mosques instead. Entering 21st century, Uyghurs extremists bombed a few buses, slaughtered hundreds of Han civilians in city downtowns, and injured thousands. Then the CCP started the crackdown, and it's also a main driving factor for implementing the Great Firewall.


Sources?


It's from a few articles written by Chinese think tank to urge greater control over Xinjiang by central government. Wikipedia covers some major events, but demographic stats probably don't have English sources. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang_conflict


One hour, 22 upvotes, and disappeared?

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.


Damn really? I just finished reading and I thought it was really interesting.


I thought very interesting too.


Thanks. For a while I had been thinking about my experience there and how things have changed. Glad you liked it.


OK, we've turned off the flags and wound back the clock on the post.


Maybe you could make something to alert yourself whenever a story appears to be related to China. Stories about China seem to always get flagged to death whenever they include anything that could be considered unflattering.


Thank you. Glad you liked it.


Great post, thanks for sharing! If you are in Shanghai in the future, would love to get a coffee. We are running a new incubator here. Seems we might have a lot in common!


Thanks! Sounds good. Or let me know next time you're in LA.


When I was a young child I belonged to a Christian group in China. We weren't allowed to have our own church and I remember hearing a couple being jailed. The first time I spoke of it in the West I was met with laughter.

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.


>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.


What on Earth happened to the comments here?


For one thing, 01100011's comment is ambiguous: as in, "This is an off-topic comment, but <whines about model [sic] dialog>", or "I find this submission to be off-topic". Charitably, let's say it's the former. Still, the discussion got off to an acrimonious start.

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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dehomag

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.


Despite the relatively small size of the HN community, there does appear to be organised action against certain topics here. I often find unusually contentious comments in threads on Chinese and American policies (seperately).


[flagged]


Honest question. What does this have to do with the topic?


Evidence abounds that Russia has funded disinformation efforts, and several indictments have been served to Russian agents and spies that have been working in the US on disinformation campaigns and spying. There's also ample evidence they funded and affected the Leave campaign.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/09/20/us/politics/r...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-bad-boys-of-...

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41182519

https://www.axios.com/senate-reports-russian-interference-20...

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/20/17031772/m...


Is this the future of genocide? Uninquired about, unmentioned, and forgotten as soon as it was noticed. I don't really care what Steven Pinker thinks. It is truly a sad world to live in.


Offtopic. I'm now to the point where I reflexively close a tab if a model dialog pops up and obscures the content. Why do so many sites insist on annoying their users these days?


To prevent many such bothers you can enable Fanboy's Annoyances list in uBlock Origin.

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.


Thank you for making this reply. I knew the comment was in poor taste but you really captured why nicely.


It's practically the Always Sunny pilot, where Charlie is reeling from a cancer diagnosis yet all Dennis can think of is mooching some sugar from him for his coffee.


It's interesting that "genocide" is the term you chose, when the mass killings haven't started yet. Maybe it's because that feels like the inevitable outcome of the current situation, just as the internment camps were the inevitable outcome of the apartheid-like segregated society described in the article?


> the mass killings haven't started yet

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.


Genocide is any attempt to destroy a group of people or their culture. Killing is one method of commiting genocide, but imprisoning members of a culture in an attempt to destroy that culture is also considered genocide.


Where did you find a definition about the culture? Searching genocide on google brings up only definitions including killing, and the word itself means killing people not culture.


No, genocide has a pretty precise definition, actually.

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.


It's funny how the USA is in its 17th year of war and occupation and drone strikes in Afghanistan, about 40 years after it sent Osama bin Laden there to wage jihad and overthrow the secular government - yet we hear not about that in the West, but about something we have almost nothing to do with and have no control over - how the Chinese are treating what in US parlance would be called Islamic jihadists in their own territory. With an expansiveness to the definition possibly equivalent to the US's.


you seem to be very defensive of China's human right violations. I took a peek at your comments and you aren't doing a good job of hiding it. Either way, to address your point; people have raised concern. The vast majority of US citizens want the country to pull out of the unending war and steps are being made to do so. Chinese citizens have less power to enact change and spread awareness. Not an apt comparison in the slightest. I would love for you to respond to some of the other replies and see how you rationalize this to yourself.


It’s probably because these threads always devolve into Chinese “people” bashing.

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.”


Israel is actually constantly debated on US news. Yet Israel doesn't indoctrinate Palestinians in giant reeducation camps, doesn't control their speech, and doesn't arrest family for doings of family members, nor punishes for having faith in Islam. China is a mindless, heartless machine. Comparisons to Israel are silly.


Maybe it's just the circles I run with or the people I follow online but I see many complaints about the US war machine and the hypocritical nature of certain political stances of the government. Either way it doesn't mean people can't be critical of other regimes.


We hear things about Western involvement in Afghanistan all the time. People talk about it and criticize the governments responsible for it on prime time newscasts. I’ve even watched debates between anti-war activists and the politicians responsible, on live un-edited television, where afterwards political experts analyze the debates and some of them conclude that the activist won. Has something like that ever happened on Chinese television about this particular situation?


> what in US parlance would be called Islamic jihadists in their own territory.

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.


Even that analogy has problems. America was at war with Japan. China is happily and deeply economically engaged with Muslim nations. It is almost entirely an internal matter for China to maintain control and order.


You say control and order, I say rounding Uighur for things like having a beard or refusing to let PLA soldiers stay in their house.

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.




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