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USA00000IMG 00000 BURST20190107130637518 COVERThe late American academician, and CIA consultant, Professor Chalmers Johnson wrote in 2001, "'Blowback' is a CIA term first used in March 1954 in a recently declassified report on the 1953 operation to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. It is a metaphor for the unintended consequences..."

The "unintended consequences" of the 1953 coup d'état to restore the Shah to power was the 1979 Iranian Revolution and transformation of Iran from Western ally to Western adversary, writes Joseph E. Fallon

"Blowback" as short hand for the unintended and unwanted consequences of a state's action may be applied to Beijing's ongoing policy toward the Uyghurs of Xinxiang. In its pursuit of political stability in Xinxiang, which is half the size of India, Beijing is undermining the political stability of the Chinese state. In enforcing "sinicization", as defined by Mandarin North China, under the mantra of "national unity", it is sowing seeds of division across China. In combating "terrorism", Beijing is becoming the "terrorist"; confirming the maxim of the American cartoon philosopher, Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

The driving force behind Beijing's current policy in Xinxiang is fear. As Professor James Leibold, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, wrote in "Mind Control in China Has a Very Long History", The New York Times, November 28, 2018: "It is the regime's fundamental insecurity - the fear of rebellion and eventually China's dismemberment - that drives it deeper and deeper into the private lives of its citizens, only alienating them. The repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang is just the extreme manifestation of the C.C.P.'s virulent - and unsustainable - pursuit of total control."

To Beijing, the escalation of ethnic clashes in Xinxiang between Chinese and the local Uyghurs, a Muslim, Turkic people numbering approximately 11 million, confirmed the Uyghurs pose a threat to Chinese "national unity". These clashes, which began in the late 1990s, reached a peak in 2009 with riots in Urumqi, capital of Xinxiang that resulted in 200 deaths. Conflicts continued on a smaller scale in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

The reason for Uyghur unrest is Beijing's "Great Western Development" campaign in Xinxiang. Uyghurs have seen their land colonized by Chinese. The Uyghur percentage of the population has dropped from 82 percent in 1949 to 46 percent in 2010. Uyghurs have been reduced from the majority to a plurality, facing the prospect of becoming a demographic minority in their homeland. This is physical destruction of an ethnic group and violates Article II, Section C, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part". Physical destruction is separate and distinct from killing members of a group, which is Section A

Beijing denies disturbances reflect Uyghur anger over dispossession. Rather, it asserts clashes are the machinations of "violent separatist groups". In May 2014, the Chinese government launched the "strike hard campaign against terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism", which Beijing claimed was undertaken to prevent Xinxiang becoming "China's Syria." The target is the Uyghur population.

This confirms Professor Jörg Friedrichs, St. Cross College, Oxford, observation, "If Hui [Chinese-speaking Muslims] loyalty to China is sometimes questioned, Uyghur disloyalty is mostly taken for granted".

On August 29, 2016, Beijing transferred Chen Quanguo, Communist Party Secretary of Tibet to Xinxiang. "Chen's system combines hyper-securitization and militarization with efforts to accelerate the political and cultural transformation of local people. Its stated aim is 'breaking lineage, breaking roots, breaking connections, and breaking origins' of Tibetans and Uyghurs."

This is the Stalinist model, "National in Form, Socialist in Content"; Marxist ethnocide, whereby the state may allow displays of a people's traditional dress, dance, and music, while systematically erasing their history, culture, and identity. In Xinxiang, Uyghurs are being forced to abandon their language, culture, and many aspects of their religion. Business Insider, May 17, 2018, quotes Professor James Millward, China historian, Georgetown University, "Cultural cleanings is Beijing's attempt to find a final solution to the Xinxiang problem."

In April 2017, the Xinxiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Regulations on De-radicalization was issued. "The regulations target non-officially sanctioned interpretation, practice and dissemination of Islamic teachings in order to identify them as terrorism and to launch counter-measures." Signs of extremism now include "quitting smoking or drinking, and not crying at funerals" and "the refusal to listen to public radio and television broadcasts"

According to Human Rights Watch, Beijing's counter-measures include requiring Uighurs to provide state authorities with DNA and biometric samples. "Those with relatives in 26 'sensitive' countries have reportedly been rounded up, and up to a million detained. Rights groups say people in camps are made to learn Mandarin Chinese and criticise or renounce their faith."

Beards, headscarves, and children studying Islam are forbidden. Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan prohibited. Uyghur names connoting "extremism" proscribed. The official list of banned baby names appears in "Naming Rules for Ethnic Minorities" and includes Hajj, Imam, Islam, Quran, Mecca, Medina, and even Muhammad.

Along with prohibitions, Beijing is employing coercions. According to Radio Free Asia, February 6, 2019, Xinjiang authorities are "...forcing some Muslims to drink alcohol, eat pork, and display emblems of traditional Chinese culture." Forcing Uyghurs to drink alcohol and eat pork in violation of their religious beliefs may have a traumatic psychological effect on those individuals and, therefore, would violate Article II, Section B, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: "Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group".

Uyghurs, individually and as a people, are being "required" to adopt Chinese culture as defined by Beijing and to speak Mandarin. Such policies violate Article 8, Sections 1 and 2, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to which China is a party.

Article 1 affirms: "Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture."

Article 2 mandates: "States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration;
(e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them."

To further undermine Uyghur group identity and cohesion, Beijing is "promoting" intermarriage between Uyghurs and Chinese. This echoes Soviet policies of encouraging mixed marriages to create "a new historical, social, and international community of people". It is, also, a violation of Article II, Section D, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: "Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group".

In violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article C: "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part" and Article D: "Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group" Beijing issued new laws limiting Uyghur births. The Guardian reported, October 10, 2018, "Last year, authorities ended an exception that had allowed Uighur and other ethnic minorities to have more children than their Han Chinese counterparts."

The most dramatic action undertaken by Beijing, the one that has led to an international outcry, has been the creation of what the Chinese media describes as "deradicalization training classes," "educational transformation training centers", "re-education camps" and "free vocational training centers that make life more 'colorful'". These are euphemisms for internment. And internment on a vast scale.

On August 10, 2018, Reuters reported "A United Nations human rights panel said on Friday that it had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uighurs in China are held in what resembles a 'massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of 'no rights zone'... members of the Uighur community and other Muslims were being treated as 'enemies of the state' solely on the basis of their ethno-religious identity."

Satellite images show there are currently 28 internment camps in Xinxiang, the size of which have been continually expanding. Between 2016 and the end of 2018, the size of these camps increased by 400 percent.

The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China has called the internment of Uyghurs "the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today." In what US Senator Robert Menendez calls "concentration camps." Where according to Amnesty International, "at best they will be brainwashed but at worst they will be tortured, but there's a real possibility of death."

In addition, Uyghur children of "internees" are being placed in orphanages where they "are taught in Mandarin and penalized for speaking in their native tongues." The Financial Times reported on July 9, 2018, "Beijing...has forcibly separated families, sending thousands of children to de facto orphanages...One county in Kashgar built 18 new orphanages in 2017 alone...orphanages are being built under a new 'five guarantees' policy begun in 2017 that aims to provide orphans with state-sponsored care until they turn 18." As Darren Byler, researcher of Uyghur culture, University of Washington, explained: "This is an ethnic group whose knowledge base is being erased." It is also a violation of Article II, Section E, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: "Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

After denying the existence of internment camps, Beijing faced a public relations dilemma when the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Beijing to "halt the practice of detaining individuals who have not been lawfully charged, tried, and convicted for a criminal offense in any extra-legal detention center." For there was no legal basis in Chinese law for internment.

So Beijing retroactively amended the Xinxiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Regulations on De-radicalization to permit "government agencies at the county level and above" to "establish occupational skills education and training centres, education transformation organisations and management departments to transform people influenced by extremism through education". This "transformation" is to be achieved by teaching Uyghurs Mandarin and providing them with occupational education. De-radicalization is "therapeutic rehabilitation".

To Professor Rian Thum, Loyola University, New Orleans, the internment of Uyghurs "echoes some of the worst human rights violations in history...mass murder and genocide do not look like impossible outcomes...The closet analogue maybe the Cultural Revolution..."

Perhaps, a better analogue would be 1984 with "thoughtcrime", "thought police", and "Big Brother is watching you". An official research paper published in June 2017 by a Xinxiang state journal "reported that most of the 588 surveyed participants did not know what they had done wrong when they were sent to re-education. But by the time they were released, nearly all - 98.8 percent - had learned their mistakes." Its conclusion: "transformation through education 'is a permanent cure.'"

The policies pursued by Beijing toward the Uyghurs of Xinxiang is just the most extreme example of a "sinicization" campaign launched throughout China in "pursuit of total control". While Uyghurs are targeted because they are perceived to be a secessionist threat to China's territorial integrity; two other groups are targeted because they are perceived rivals to the power of atheistic, Mandarin-speaking dominated Chinese Communist Party: religions and non-Mandarin languages.

Beijing is attacking Islam, Christianity, even traditional Chinese Buddhism and Daoism claiming these religions are not authentically Chinese and must be "Sinicized". This process requires these religions receive official sanction to operate, have their practices dictated by the state, and their holy books reflect the thoughts of President Xi, Chairman Mao, and the Chinese Communist Party.

By implementing such policies, Beijing, having already made enemies of 20 million Muslims with the repression of Uyghurs, is antagonizing 67 million Christians, 244 million Buddhists, and nearly one billion Daoists.

The other target of "sinicization" is the population of south China. Mandarin and the languages of south China - Hakka, Gan, Min, Wu, Xiang, and Yue, (Cantonese) - are mutually unintelligible. Dismissing these languages as not "Chinese", Beijing has been imposing Mandarin upon the south. Speaking Mandarin a test of Chinese patriotism. In pursuing this policy, Beijing has shattered the illusion of "Han" unity, and has turned traditional allies into adversaries. An adversarial population that numbers approximately 250 million, one-quarter of China's population, and is responsible for creating the most productive and prosperous provinces in all of China.

In alienating potentially hundreds of millions of people many vital to China's economy or located in strategic, but vulnerable parts of the country, Beijing's "sinicization" campaign to insure state security and "national" unity may provoke "blowback" - the unintended, unwanted consequence of destabilization, if not disintegration, of China and the Chinese Communist Party.

 

Joe Fallon is a Senior Resrach Associate with the U K Defence Forum

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