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Why China is ‘re-educating’ Muslims in mass detention camps Read more at https://asiancorrespondent.com/2018/07/why-china-is-re-educating-muslims-in-mass-detention-camps/#4a4ASR1KxhtRTgqX.99

Asian Corresponder

CHINA’S Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies their existence.

But extensive reporting by international media and human rights groups indicates that upwards of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs – a Muslim-minority ethnic group – have been detained in sprawling “re-education” centres in the far-western Xinjiang region of China.

The camps are not only massive, with some exceeding 10,000sqm, but have also been likened to prison-like compounds, with “reinforced security doors and windows, surveillance systems, secure access systems, watchtowers, and guard rooms or facilities for armed police”.

The US Congressional-Executive Commission on China calls it “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today”. China has long been wary of its Uyghur population, particularly in the wake of deadly riotsterrorist attacks and the flow of Uyghur militants to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State in recent years.

SEE ALSO: China bans ‘overly religious’ Muslim names in Xinjiang 

But the emergence of the re-education camps in Xinjiang raises a number of new questions: Why has the Communist Party come to rely on mass internment to control the Uyghurs? What are the implications for China’s future political development under President Xi Jinping? And how should the international community respond?

From social controls to ‘re-education’

Xinjiang’s position at the crossroads of East and West, as well as the cultural, religious and ethnic differences between the majority Han and minority Uyghurs, have posed significant challenges to the Communist Party for decades.

To bring more stability to the restive region, Beijing has pursued an aggressive integration strategy defined by tight political, social and cultural controls, the encouragement of mass migration by the dominant Han Chinese population, and state-led economic development.

In turn, the Uyghurs have increasingly chafed against these restrictive policies, resulting in periodic outbursts of violence.

CHINA’S Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies their existence.

But extensive reporting by international media and human rights groups indicates that upwards of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs – a Muslim-minority ethnic group – have been detained in sprawling “re-education” centres in the far-western Xinjiang region of China.

The camps are not only massive, with some exceeding 10,000sqm, but have also been likened to prison-like compounds, with “reinforced security doors and windows, surveillance systems, secure access systems, watchtowers, and guard rooms or facilities for armed police”.

The US Congressional-Executive Commission on China calls it “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today”. China has long been wary of its Uyghur population, particularly in the wake of deadly riotsterrorist attacks and the flow of Uyghur militants to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State in recent years.

SEE ALSO: China bans ‘overly religious’ Muslim names in Xinjiang 

But the emergence of the re-education camps in Xinjiang raises a number of new questions: Why has the Communist Party come to rely on mass internment to control the Uyghurs? What are the implications for China’s future political development under President Xi Jinping? And how should the international community respond?

From social controls to ‘re-education’

Xinjiang’s position at the crossroads of East and West, as well as the cultural, religious and ethnic differences between the majority Han and minority Uyghurs, have posed significant challenges to the Communist Party for decades.

To bring more stability to the restive region, Beijing has pursued an aggressive integration strategy defined by tight political, social and cultural controls, the encouragement of mass migration by the dominant Han Chinese population, and state-led economic development.

In turn, the Uyghurs have increasingly chafed against these restrictive policies, resulting in periodic outbursts of violence.

Such fears are stoked by the fact that China, and its major tech companies such as Huawei, have begun to ink deals under the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) to export these cutting-edge surveillance technology and systems to a variety of countries, from Zimbabwe to Mongolia. ​

What does all of this mean for states such as Australia that are increasingly economically interdependent with China?

To begin with, Australia should simply call out Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang for what they are – systematic violations of the human rights of the Uyghur people – much as US Congressional leaders and some members of the European Union have done.

Canberra has done so in the past with respect to the Tiananmen Square massacre and other human rights violations. The scope of the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang demands nothing less.

SEE ALSO: China testing facial-recognition systems to track Uyghur community

Second, Australian policymakers should recognise that the camps in Xinjiang, and the broader return of Maoist ideology, are arguably a sign of the Communist Party’s insecurity not its strength.

What is occurring in Xinjiang may appear to be far removed from Australia’s national interests, but it provides evidence of the type of behaviour we may come to expect more of from an ascendant China, both domestically and internationally.​

In the final analysis, we as a nation should not remain silent while hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs are persecuted for simply being who they are.

Read more at https://asiancorrespondent.com/2018/07/why-china-is-re-educating-muslims-in-mass-detention-camps/#4a4ASR1KxhtRTgqX.99

 

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