- China’s state-run newspaper The Global Times tried to defend the country’s practice of mass detentions of its majority Muslim ethnic minority, the Uighurs.
- But it committed a damning self-own in the process.
- The newspaper, and China’s ambassador to the US, said they’re trying to turn the Uighurs into “normal people,” a remark that sparked widespread disgust.
- China has compared the Muslims in Xinjiang to ISIS terrorists, which suggests they view Islam as a danger in need of diffusing, rather than a major world religion.
China’s state-run newspaper The Global Times tried to defend the country’s practice of mass detentions of its majority Muslim ethnic minority, but committed a damning self-own in the process.
The paper, in which every article meets with state approval, tried to defend China’s practice of detaining up to a million people from the Uighur ethnic group in massive camps across Xinjiang, a western province in the country.
China subjects the Uighurs to extensive surveillance and forced re-education that emphasises the greatness of the Hans, China’s ethnic majority.
Reports from inside the camps show prison-like buildings with bars on the window and Chinese Communist Party propaganda securely fastened to the walls. People who spent time inside have spoken of psychological torture and brainwashing.
The US has considered sanctioning Chinese people involved in the oppression of the Uighurs, and western countries have challenged China to allow UN inspectors to visit sites, but China has denied access.
Muslim countries, which depend on China’s business, have mainly been silent about the treatment of the Uighurs.
Amid the rising tide of western countries calling accountability for the treatment of the minority in an authoritarian state, The Global Times sought to fight back, and made a telling blunder in the process.
“The West should be consistent over its own value system. How can it be fine to kill terrorists with missiles, but a humanitarian crisis when #Xinjiang attempts to turn them into normal people?” the newspaper tweeted.
Bonnie Glaser, the head of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic International Studies tweeted in response: “Quite revealing, GT’s statement that the PRC [acronym for the People’s Republic of China] is trying to turn Uighurs into ‘normal people.’ Why are they considered to be abnormal?”
İyad el-Baghdadi, a human rights activist and political refugee from the United Arab Emirates living in Norway responded: “Because Muslims aren’t normal people. You have to put them through concentration camps to turn them into normal people.”
“‘Normal people.’ I have no words,” Sui-Lee Wee, a New York Times reporter in China tweeted.
To China, Uighurs are comparable to ISIS
The newspaper, known for nationalist stances, channeled China’s ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, who also called for the Uighurs to be made into “normal persons.”
“We are trying to re-educate most of [the Uighurs], trying to turn them into normal persons [who] can go back to normal life,” Cui told Reuters last week.
Here, a Chinese official has made it clear: the 10 million Uighurs in Xinjiang are not free to live as they please or determine what would constitute a normal life for themselves, and will mostly be rounded up and put into detention by a government that wants to impress the views of its ethnic majority on them.
Cui compared the US killing ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria – who are active combatants in a war zone engaged in killings, war crimes, raping, pillaging, spreading extremist propaganda, and trafficking arms – to China rounding up Uighurs.
The US, as part of a coalition with the support of more than 70 nations, kills ISIS members for the stated reason that they’re terrorists who have committed atrocities to civilian populations in multiple countries.
China’s Communist party, and the party alone, has set out to monitor, detain, and punish millions of Uighurs within their own borders because they don’t consider them “normal.”
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