Showing posts with label The Uyghur Genocide. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Uyghur Genocide. Show all posts

Tuesday 8 February 2022

What if China Isn't Using Forced Labour?

Poor Saddam Hussein!

I can't bring myself to sympathize with Saddam Hussein, but still, I think about the lead-up to the second Iraq war (which, by the way, cost 151,000 to 1,033,000 lives--depending on whose statistics you believe). Over and over again, in anticipation of the 2003 invasion, we were told that all Saddam had to do was turn over his "weapons of mass destruction."  Imagine Saddam's frustration!  He couldn't halt the invasion by turning over his weapons of mass destruction because he didn't have any.  Just saying he had no WMDs wasn't going to do anything because the US had the witness statements of Iraqi defectors, CIA intelligence reports, recordings and leaked documents, and, of course, the satellite images which Colin Powell presented to the UN.

Here We go again!

I've read the Uyghur Forced Labor Act and its earlier drafts, the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force "Report to Congress," and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (aka USMC Implementation Act) in an effort to figure out what's really going on. According to the draft Act approved by Congress, the USA knows that China is using forced labour in Xinjiang because they have witness statements, "official media reports, publicly available documents, official statements, and official leaked documents from the Government of the People’s Republic of China" and, wait for it . . . "satellite imagery."  Of the reports, articles, documents and statements I've read, some assert that "China is the new evil empire" but none provide conclusive evidence of "forced labour." Of all the human rights abuses the Chinese regime is being accused of--mass incarceration without trial, repression of free speech and religion, coercive family planning, forced assimilation, invasive surveillance--the least evident and most difficult to prove would be "forced labour."

Satellite Imagery

The Australia Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has taken the lead in providing satellite imagery of Xinjiang. The ASPI describes itself as "an independent, non-partisan think tank" but is equally forthcoming that most of its funding comes from Australia's Department of Defence and other government agencies.  Australia is of course a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and has recently reinforced its allegiance with the USA in opposition to China.  

The ASPI's interactive map, indicating images of hundreds of detention centres, mosques and religious sites, still requires a leap of faith that what we are looking at--buildings with walls, turrets and fences--are in fact prisons, detention centres and re-education facilities whose inmates are used for forced labour.  The same suspension of disbelief that Collin Powell invoked when he showed satellite images of buildings in Iraq and told the UN that they were production and storage facilities for "weapons of mass destruction" is once again being called for.

What's really going on?

Just as "weapons of mass destruction" provided the pretext for the war in Iraq when the protection of western oil interests was widely believed to be the more credible and obvious cause, this time "forced labor" is being used as an excuse to escalate the USA's geopolitical contest with China.  Of all the crimes that the USA might accuse China of, why focus on "forced labor"?  China has a history of moving its workforce from one part of the country to another, separating families for long periods of time.  Arguably, "forced labour" has been part of Chinese culture for thousands of years.  Why has Chinese "forced labor" become a US obsession in 2021-22?  How do you prove "forced labor" from thousands of miles away?

Rebuttable Presumption

The Uyghur Forced Labor Act provides a simple solution in Section 3: "REBUTTABLE PRESUMPTION."  "Rebuttable presumption," a concept in law that, in the simplest of terms, means guilty until proven innocent.  Therefore, the US government is instructing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assume that anything being imported from China is the product of forced labour until proven otherwise.  

What if China isn't using forced labour?

What if China isn't using forced labour?  It really doesn't matter.  What is or isn't accepted into the USA will be determined through negotiations between CBP (and various other US intelligence services) and the American company doing the importing.  Contrary to my claim in the previous post, Walmart will no doubt lobby for an exemption.  As outlined in the New York Times article, "U.S. Effort to Combat Forced Labor Targets Corporate China Ties," Coke Cola, Nike and Apple have already begun lobbying.

The Tariff Act of 1930

Oh my naivety!  You may not have detected it but, in my previous posts, I was struck by how quickly and easily American legislators seemed to accept claims of genocide and human rights abuses without challenging the sources or questioning the substance of the evidence.  I was confounded by the fact that US legislators focused on "forced labor," the most difficult accusation to prove, rather than any other of claimed abuses.  I was unaware of the Tariff Act of 1930 and its recent amendments.  It is perhaps worth noting that until 2016, US law . . .

permitted the importation of goods made by forced labor “if the goods were not produced in such quantities in the United States as to meet the consumptive demands of the United States.”

US legislators honed in on "forced labor" because the recently amended law was already on the books, in international and US law, against "forced labor."  This was the approach that would allow them to block, on a fairly ad hoc basis, any and all imports from China.  A law designed to protect against child labour, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and slave labour is being used to block the advancement of a global competitor. 

Is Canada going to be played again?

Article 3 of the Uyghur Forced Labor Act requires the US government  . . . 

(3) to coordinate with Mexico and Canada to effectively implement Article 23.6 of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to prohibit the importation of goods produced in whole or in part by forced or compulsory labor, including those goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region;

Did US negotiators anticipate in the summer of 2020 when the USMC trade agreement was being signed and Canada had accepted "the China clause" barring a Canada-China free-trade deal without notifying the US, and Canada had accepted the US request to arrest Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO, further driving a wedge between Canada and China, that they also had Article 23.6, an ace up the US sleeve, to further prevent trade between Canada and China? Will the Canadian government respond to the Uyghur Forced Labor Act and Article 23.6 of USMC, the same way they did the US-Canada Extradition Treaty in the Meng case? Will we once again find ourselves in a trade war with China to the detriment of Canada for the benefit of the USA? And the answer is . . .

It's a Done deal

According to the Government of Canada website entitled "Public Safety," the ban on "forced labour" imports became law in Canada two years ago.

Canada has imposed an importation ban on goods that were produced by forced labour, as described in An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, which received Royal Assent on March 13, 2020. As described in paragraph 202(8), Chapter 98 item No. 9897.00.00 of the Customs Tariff, the law has been amended to include a reference prohibiting goods mined, manufactured or produced wholly or in part by forced labour. These amendments made under the Act came into force in Canada on July 1, 2020, as outlined in CBSA Customs Notice 20-23, Import prohibition on goods produced wholly or in part by forced labour.

Friday 4 February 2022

"Weaponizing Human Rights"?

Say Goodbye to Walmart!

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is now law in the USA.  Beginning June 2022, the Act requires the US Customs and Border Protection Agency to block all imports from China, unless the Agency has "clear and convincing" evidence that the goods were not produced with forced labour.  Say goodbye to Walmart, the largest employer in the USA which imports 70 to 80% of its merchandise from China.

"Weaponizing Human Rights" 

 I first encountered the expression "weaponizing human rights" in an interview with former British diplomat and MI6 officer, Alastair Crooke (Going Underground:  RT  Russia Today).  The expression crystalized my vague notions that claims of human rights abuses were being promoted for various realpolitik agendas quite apart from concern for the victims. 

Alfred de Zayas, a Cuban-American professor of law and senior lawyer with the office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, argues that:

The weaponization of human rights has transformed the individual and collective entitlement to assistance, protection, respect and solidarity — based on our common human dignity and equality — into a hostile arsenal to target competitors and political adversaries.

De Sayas aptly and succinctly outlines so much of what is wrong with the weaponization of human rights:

Experience shows [. . .] that naming and shaming fails to alleviate the suffering of victims and only satisfies the strategic aims of certain governments, politicized non-governmental organizations and of a burgeoning human rights industry that instrumentalize human rights for the purpose of destabilizing others and often enough to facilitate “regime change”, regardless how undemocratic [ . . . .]

 The Challenges to logic

 In Red China Blues, Jan Wong self-mockingly described herself as a "Montreal Maoist" and confessed that in "the naive logic of the young" she reasoned that if Western governments were lying to us, then China must be telling the truth. There is a propaganda war going on between the USA and China.  Reading today requires avoiding the pitfall of the false dilemma, the logical fallacy of "either this or that" must be true especially when it is obvious that both sides have good reason to lie--and every good lie contains some degree of truth.

We are also challenged to avoid "truth by assertion," the feeling that something must be true because we have heard it so many times--which is more colloquially referred to as "brainwashing."

A further problem with the "weaponizing of human rights," which I am particularly sensitive to, is that it makes the issues more difficult to discuss, especially when "weaponizing" invokes a "genocide."  Ostensibly, I have written two posts on genocide:  On Reading "The Uyghur Genocide: An Examination of China's Breaches of the 1948 Genocide Convention" and On Reading "The National Inquiry Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls." I would hasten to point out that I have analyzed and written about two published reports of genocide--not the genocide itself.  In both cases, I questioned whether the reports had reasonably proven their conclusions of genocide.  At the same time, I noted that the presumptive creators of the reports, despite widespread claims of "independence," had an obvious interest in reaching a conclusion of genocide--a fact that further aroused my skepticism.

The Uyghur Tribunal 

In December 2021, a panel of lawyers and advocates in the UK, self-identifying as The Uyghur Tribunal, delivered its judgment on "China’s alleged Genocide and crimes against Humanity against Uyghur, Kazakh and other Turkic Muslim populations."  In the Judgment, the Tribunal stresses its independence, judiciously outlines a number of similar organizations, one of which has and numerous others which have not reached a conclusion of "genocide," and provides access to its budget and witness statements.

As displayed on the Tribunal's website, multiple news agencies picked up on the report with the headline "China Guilty of Genocide." What most news agencies would struggle to explain is the serpentine route by which the Tribunal arrived at this judgment.  For example, according to the Tribunal, "genocide" isn't what most of us think of as genocide.  The Judgment is categorical that "there is no evidence of organized mass killings."  According to the Tribunal:

191. This Judgment, with no evidence of any mass killing, may be thought to diminish the perceived status of genocide as a crime. In one way it may do that, and if so, in one way, not necessarily a bad thing. The use of superlatives – ‘world’s gravest crime’ and hyperbole – ‘crime of crimes’ – when attached to tragedy brings public attention, sometimes at a cost to other tragedies able to attract less attention despite being as serious. [ . . . .]
192. Further, in truth, genocide is not necessarily the worst of all possible crimes: [. . . .]

Adopting a framework of "sociological genocide," the Tribunal concluded "beyond reasonable doubt that the PRC, by the imposition of measures to prevent births intended to destroy a significant part of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as such, has committed genocide."

Despite a promise that "The Tribunal will consider both inculpatory and exculpatory material on an independent and impartial basis," I could find no hint of exculpatory evidence in the report.

Adrian Zenz, a key witness for the Tribunal's judgment of genocide

The Tribunal's conclusion of genocide from the extrapolation of birthrates is significantly based on the research of Adrian Zenz, an evangelical Christian working for The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.  Zenz and his research were pilloried by The Grayzone in a 21 December 2019 report.  The Tribunal Judgment specifies that Zenz's research was peer-reviewed by "Professor James Millward and Dr David Tobin."  However, since both Millward and Tobin were outspoken critics of China's human-rights record and collaborators with Zenz, the objectivity of their peer review appears dubious.

Zenz's research was presented as axiomatic in the Newsline Institute's report entitled The Uyghur Genocide.  According to The Grayzone, "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s last-minute accusation of 'genocide'" was also based on Zenz's data.

Uyghur Tribunal Judgment vs Newsline Institute's The Uyghur Genocide

In my review of Newsline Institute's The Uyghur Genocide, I asked the seemingly absurd question, "Who wrote this report?"  In the Uyghur Tribunal Judgment, I found the answer:

Professor Packer and Jonah Diamond, principal authors of the Newlines Report, came to London to give evidence in person and the Tribunal was and is very grateful to them in that regard.

The identification of Packer and Diamond, names I had never noticed, as the "principal authors" of the report I had analyzed sent me back to the original online document.  Sure enough, in the appendix containing the biographies of the thirty-two signatories of the report, Yonah Diamond is identified as "an international human rights lawyer [. . .] at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre [. . . .]  And,  "Yonah Diamond served this project as principal author."  John Packer is identified in the same appendix as a Law Professor at the University of Ottawa who "served this project as principal advisor" (but not the author).

In my post on The Uyghur Genocide, I questioned its provenance (as did The Grayzone) because Newsline Institute was a division of Fairfax University, an alleged visa mill, allegedly sponsored by the Turkish Islamic scholar,  Muhammed Fethullah Gülen.  I was somewhat taken aback when reading The Two Michaels, that what I had assessed as a Newsline Institute report was being identified as the product of the  Raoul Wallenberg Centre.   In the online version I downloaded, there is an acknowledgement of the Wallenberg Centre's contribution.   However, in more recent versions of the report, the Wallenberg Centre's logo now appears on the cover for the first time.  In the Uyghur Tribunal Judgment, The Uyghur Genocide is repeatedly and consistently described as a product of the Newsline Institute.  There is no mention of the Wallenberg Centre in the Judgment.  I am at a loss to clarify what this confusion (or is it conflict?) about the provenance of The Uyghur Genocide indicates about its credibility.

Although Packer, Diamond and Zenz were important witnesses for the Uyghur Tribunal, the Judgment attempts to distinguish itself from the earlier report and at times hints at scolding The Uyghur Genocide's soi-disant authors.

What I learned from the Uyghur Tribunal Judgment

In addition to the fact that a demographic prediction of a decline in population could be called "genocide," I encountered a number of surprises and clarifications in the Judgment.  I am always struck by the number of individuals and organizations that declare a genocide in China with absolute certainty, including the Canadian parliament, without any indication of the evidence upon which this certainty is based.  

The Tribunal's judgment draws attention to the fact--which is generally ignored in the public domain--that The Uyghur Genocide claimed a lower standard in proving genocide than is used in criminal prosecutions.  The "clear and convincing" standard of truth translates as a 60% probability.  In contrast, the Uyghur Tribunal claimed their verdict of a sociological, demographic genocide was "beyond a reasonable doubt," which translates as being a 98 or 99% probability.

The Judgment provides a substantial list of groups and organizations which have investigated human-rights abuses in Xinjiang.  Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International,  the United States Holocaust Museum, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Essex Court Chambers. the Bar Human rights Committee and the Yael Grauer Intercept Report have all studied the available evidence without reaching a conclusive judgment of genocide.  Although Mike Pompeo declared a genocide in China, twenty-four hours before leaving office, and both President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken have unofficially claimed a Uyghur genocide in the press, the USA has refused to officially declare a genocide or provide evidence for the unofficial claims.

The Tribunal used evidence from the Newsline Institute's report but attempted to separate itself from The Uyghur Genocide by pointing out:

51. Professor Packer and Mr Diamond may have given encouragement to those who thought the Tribunal would only succeed if it found genocide – a wholly inaccurate understanding of the Tribunal’s function.

Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Lithuania and the Czech Republic have each passed "non-binding resolutions" (the epitome of lip service) declaring a Uyghur genocide.  No Muslim, Asian or African country has labelled China's treatment of its Muslim minority a genocide.

[What's going on in this picture--the cover of "Bearing Witness"?  Yes, there is a "POLICE" presence.  Why is the bus labelled in English?  Doesn't this picture show thousands of Muslims publically practising their religion, in contradiction to widespread claims that Islam has become a crime in China?]

The United States Holocaust Museum "Bearing Witness" report

According to the executive summary of its "Bearing Witness" report, "The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is gravely concerned that the Chinese government may be committing genocide against the Uyghurs."  This report reiterates the concerns and evidence presented in other reports, publications and witness statements.  As such, the problem of a "feedback loop," which I pointed out in On Reading The Uyghur Genocide, persists.  At the risk of sounding like Judge Judy, I have to point out that much of what is presented as "evidence" is obviously hearsay.

Additionally, it is both understandable and problematic that the clear intention of the report is to arouse concern and persuade the reader of the need for action against the regime in China.  I credit the report with at least mentioning the wider context but, in each instance, the rhetorical spin invariably plays down any justification for China's actions in the region.  

For example, according to the report, "Following the September 2001 attacks on the United States, the Chinese government co-opted the language of the 'War on Terror,' [ . . . ]."  The report goes on to provide a cryptic listing of various Uyghur separatist attacks on the Chinese population, including riots, bombings, car attacks, stabbings and threats of "a chemical and biological weapons attack," yet the verb "co-opted" clearly informs the reader that these terrorist attacks should not be compared to 9/11 without explaining why.

Consider the wording of the report's description of Uyghur extremist attacks:

In 2013, a car was driven into a crowd at Tiananmen Square, Beijing, killing two tourists and three people in the car—a man, his wife, and his mother—in what appeared to be a suicide attack.32 At the time, TIP claimed it was behind the attack, though many Xinjiang experts “responded with skepticism.”33 In March 2014, the Chinese government blamed Uyghur separatists for killing more than 30 people and injuring more than 100 in a knife attack at a train station in Kunming, in Yunnan Province.34 A month later, a deadly attack occurred during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Urumqi.35 In May 2014, in Urumqi, two cars ploughed into shoppers while setting off explosives.36 Chinese authorities held Uyghur separatists responsible for the attack, which reportedly killed 31 people and injured more than 90. 37

And now the analysis:

  • "a car was driven into a crowd":  passive voice avoids telling us who drove the car
  • "appeared to be a suicide attack":  driver killed himself, but still only "appeared to be a suicide"
  • "experts 'responded with skepticism'":  terrorists' claiming responsibility isn't sufficient evidence
  • "the Chinese government blamed":  they were knife attacks!  can we doubt who did it?
  • "a deadly attack occurred":  passive voice, it just happened, no-one did it
  • "two cars ploughed into shoppers":  again the cars did it; were they driverless?
  • "Chinese authorities held Uyghur separatists responsibly":  was there any room for doubt?

The purpose of the rhetorical spin is to dissuade us from any inkling of justification for the Chinese response.   The report tells us that twenty-two Uyghur members of the East Turkestan Islamist Party (aka TIP/ ETIP), which the USA officially listed as a terrorist organization from 2002 to November 2020, were imprisoned in Guantanamo.  However, the report would have us believe that the USA's designating  TIP/ETIP a terrorist organization for almost 18 years, arresting (without trial) and torturing (aka "enhanced interrogation") its members was a matter of political expediency and the USA's submitting to pressure at the UN from China.

Despite its arguably good intentions, the report clearly goes too far when it starts getting the numbers wrong from its own sources.  The report's description of an event I had never heard of caught my attention:

In 1990, Uyghurs in the town of Baren in Xinjiang’s Kashgar prefecture rebelled against restrictions on the practice of Islam imposed by the Chinese government.14   The state responded with force, killing an estimated 1,600 Uyghurs.15

I followed footnote 15 to the East Turkestan Information Bulletin, the source of the report's claim.

On April 5, 1990 an armed uprising broke out in Baren provoked by Chinese Communists. Almost three thousand armed Eastern Turkestanis under the leadership of Zeydin Yusuf disarmed the police forces, occupied the Baren township Party and government building and declared war against the Chinese Communists in order to establish a independent Eastern Turkestan Republic. By late afternoon the uprising had spread to nine other townships in the area.
The Chinese Communist authorities dispatched armed police forces, militiamen and Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) units to Baren early on the morning of April 6. At the same time 200,000 special anti-riot forces from Lanzhou Military District were dispatched to Eastern Turkestan. Troops were flown in day and night by military transport planes and helicopters. The airports of Urumchi, Aksu, Kashgar, Yarkent and Hoten were closed.
The Eastern Turkestani people took up hunting rifles and any weapons they could find while some Chinese soldiers threw away their weapons and fled. According to the witnesses the Chinese used tanks and fighters to bomb townships in the area. Nine townships were bombed and almost one thousand Eastern Turkestanis and 600 soldiers and policemen died

According to Human Rights Watch, "A reliable tally of the casualties at Baren may never be known: according to the government, the death toll came to around twenty; but Uighur sources claimed that several hundred rebels were killed."  The point here is that the numbers are being determined by whose side you want to be on and, unfortunately, the Holocaust Museum has too obviously chosen its side.  The 1600 Uyghur casualties claimed by the Holocaust Museum report turn out to be, according to its own source, 1000 Uyghurs on one side and 600 soldiers and policemen on the other.  Other reports note that at the beginning of the uprising, Uyghur insurgents beheaded members of the local police force.

Following the Money

In stellar efforts at transparency, the Uyghur Tribunal has published its operating budget online and pointed out that most of its participants have worked pro bono.  However, in an equally transparent gesture, the Tribunal website explains that "In June 2020 Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress formally requested that Sir Geoffrey Nice QC establish and chair an independent people’s tribunal to investigate ‘ongoing atrocities and possible Genocide’ against the Uyghur people."   The World Uyghur Congress is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).  Damon Wilson, president and CEO of the NED, is a former employee of the National Security Council who is lauded for "helping to enlarge NATO" and for "playing a lead role on the Alliance’s response to 9/11 and its operations in Afghanistan [. . . ]."  The NED was established with funding under "the State Department and USIA."  The USIA (United States Information Agency) was, according to its "former Director of TV and film service," Alvin Synder, ""[t]he biggest branch of [the US] propaganda machine."  Not surprisingly, the first priority listed on the World Uyghur Congress website is "to promote democracy [. . .]."


The Holocaust Museum's "Bearing Witness" report   highlights the testimony of four key witnesses:  Bahram Sintash, Ferkat Jawdat, Eset Sulaiman, and Rushan Abbas.  All four are well-known Uyghur activists employed and/or funded by the US government.  Sintash, Jawdat and Sulaiman work for Radio Free Asia which is funded by the US Congress. Rushan Abbas is "the founder and executive director of the nonprofit, Campaign for Uyghurs."  She was also an employee of Radio Free Asia and worked as a translator for the CIA when 22 Uyghurs were being held at Guantanamo.  She is a US citizen and a business consultant with ISI Consultants where she is described as having "extensive experience working with U.S. government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Justice, and various U.S. intelligence agencies."  

How 40% becomes 60% becomes 98% becomes 100% 

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act has now been passed by the US Congress and signed by the President.  The legislation prohibits "the import of all goods, wares, articles, or merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or in part, by forced labor from the People’s Republic of China [. . . .]."  The USA typically imports over $400 billion in goods from China every year.  In a Covid year of supply chain interruptions and absentee truckers (or any year for that matter), it is difficult to imagine how US Customs and Border Protection will be able to act upon this legislation which requires that they block anything coming from China unless there is "clear and convincing evidence" [60% certainty] that the goods were not produced with forced labour.

I have already pointed to the problem of a "feedback loop," when ideologues with shared interests are talking to themselves without acknowledging their shared loop.  In their reflections, the American legislators who prepared  The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act repeatedly quoted the United States Holocaust Museum "Bearing Witness" report without ever acknowledging that in many ways they were talking to themselves.  The report they quoted as an external source was far from external to the cognitive bias and interests they all shared.

Having read numerous victim statements about the alleged Uyghur genocide, I find myself believing about 40% of what I have read.  In the statements I found most credible, there was a consistent pattern of individuals crossing the border from outside China into Xinjiang for odd reasons.  These odd reasons aroused the suspicions of Chinese authorities and the individuals were unreasonably and harshly detained.  I have no doubt that crimes and abuses of human rights have been committed.

Reading Senator Marco Rubio's comment to the CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA that the Holocaust Museum report is "a document that should leave zero doubt about the evil policies and practices of the Communist Party of China toward Uyghurs [. . .],"  I was struck by how my 40% conviction became a 60% probability of genocide in the Newsline Institute report then a 98% probability of a birthrate genocide in the Uyghur Tribunal Judgment until finally becoming 100% proof of evil in the Congressional Commission.

The Chinese Response

In December 2021, the New York Times did an expose on "How Beijing Influences the Influencers."  The gist of the article is that China is manipulating social media to create positive images of the country.  Paradoxically, despite the article's intent, Raz Gal-Or's videos (included in the online NYT article)  still manage to undermine claims that China is using forced labour in the cotton fields of Xinjian. China has also produced this youtube video:  claiming that 80% of the cotton in Xinjiang is harvested mechanically.  I have to admit that given China's past history as a boundless supply of so-called "coolie" labour and its modern history of high-powered technological development, it seems counterintuitive that China needs to depend on forced labour for its export market.

What purpose does "weaponizing of human rights" serve?

Why weaponize human rights?  Why to not weaponize seems obvious as it is the opposite of promoting human rights.   The presumed victims end up being used as pawns in a geopolitical conflict.  How will sanctions serve the interests of the Uyghur of Xinjiang?  How have American sanctions served the people of Cuba, the people of Iran, or of Venezuala? 

“When goods don’t pass international borders, soldiers will.”   In 2015, the FBI whistleblower, Sible Edmonds, predicted that Xinjiang would be the next Taiwan and that the USA would adopt a method of weaponizing human rights through the media.  Is the weaponizing of human rights a prelude to war, a new proxy or preemptive war like Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam?  Nikki Haley, Trump's ambassador to the UN, is described in Haaretz Magazine as a potential Republican candidate for the presidency in 2024.  Her comments on China tell us that "the domino theory," the rationale for the Vietnam War, is once again back in fashion in the USA.

Friday 26 March 2021

On Reading "The Uyghur Genocide: An Examination of China's Breaches of the 1948 Genocide Convention"

 Apologist for China, Me?

In response to numerous posts I had written on Canada's arrest and detention of the Huawei CFO, Meng Wangzou, I was given friendly advice from a couple of sources that, in light of allegations of an Uyghur genocide,  I should not appear to be an apologist for China.  My immediate defense, even if unnecessary and unspoken, was that I had little or nothing to say about China.  My concern was Canada, what was in the best interest of Canada and Canadians.  As I've already said too many times on this blog, Canada's holding Meng for trial isn't moral or legal.  It isn't even strategic or advantageous from any Machiavellic realpolitik perspective.  It's just plain dumb. The only rationale which justifies her continued detention is the underlying, irrational fear that if we release her, the next day American tanks would come rolling across the border and Justin Trudeau would find himself sharing a cell with Manuel Noreiga.  Even in the Age of Trumpery, I had more respect for our southern neighbours than this.

Canada Declares a Genocide in China?

Despite my reluctance to comment, all the less so, to be an apologist for China; somehow China keeps becoming a Canadian story.  In January, the Canadian parliament passed a "non-binding" Conservative Party resolution declaring China's treatment of the Uyghurs a genocide.  Here is the resolution in full:

January 25, 2021 — Mr. O’Toole (Durham) — That,
(a) in the opinion of the House, the People's Republic of China has engaged in actions consistent with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 260, commonly known as the "Genocide Convention", including detention camps and measures intended to prevent births as it pertains to Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims; and
(b) given that (i) where possible, it has been the policy of the Government of Canada to act in concert with its allies when it comes to the recognition of a genocide, (ii) there is a bipartisan consensus in the United States where it has been the position of two consecutive administrations that Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims are being subjected to a genocide by the Government of the People's Republic of China, the House, therefore, recognize that a genocide is currently being carried out by the People's Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, and call on the government to officially adopt this position.

Because Mike Pompeo Said So . . .

I found the justification that 'this is what they are doing in the United States' less than satisfying.  All the more so because the original American genocide declaration was more officious than official--with Mike Pompeo making the declaration 24 hours before the end of the Trump presidency and his tenure as Secretary of State. However, as various media have reported, the incoming Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, has expressed his agreement with Pompeo's declaration.

An "Independent " Report

The Uyghur Genocide and Reclaiming Power and Place

Who wrote The Uyghur Genocide?

Newlines Institue, Fairfax University and Fethullah Gulen

[ . . . ] a "visa mill" rather than a legitimate educational institution. [ . . .] a sham operation where an institution "offers little by way of educational value," but instead lures international students through its ability to offer access to student and work visas, while exploiting them by charging exorbitant tuition costs.  

The report attempts to construct an appearance of broad expert consensus supporting its conclusions, including a list of 33 “independent expert” signatories. Unsurprisingly, this list consists of individuals pushing for a New Cold War and confrontation with China, and who support separatist efforts to transform the mineral-rich, geopolitically important region of Xinjiang into a NATO-oriented ethno-state [. . .]

Where is the United Nations?

The Uyghur Genocide is a legal brief

The Burden of Proof

The report promises to apply "a clear and convincing standard of proof."  To understand this promise, it is necessary to consult the accompanying footnote, which links to a website entitled Standards of Proof in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Fact-Finding and Inquiry Missions which outlines four levels of "standard of proof."  Level three is: 

Clear and convincing evidence. Very solid support for the finding; significantly more evidence supports the finding and limited information suggests the contrary. (60%.) Classic expression is it is clear that.

Feedback Loop

The Uyghur Genocide claims that:

The repeated explicit Government orders (described below) to “eradicate tumors,” “wipe them out completely … destroy them root and branch,” “round up everyone,” “show absolutely no mercy,” “break their roots,” and eliminate “risks within risks, hidden dangers in hidden dangers,” combined with corresponding State practice, belie the purported security goals by targeting any and all members of the Uyghur population.

I attempted to trace the source of these quotations and confirm that they were, in fact, "repeated explicit Government orders."  It has taken me longer to read the 50-page Uyghur report, with its 317 footnotes/hyperlinks than it took me to read the 1550-page Canadian report on Indigenous women.  Almost invariably, the sources of these quotations (above) were newspaper articles or someone else's report. This approach contradicts the rules of evidence but what struck me more was that it has created a feedback loop.  The report was using the media as its source; then the media was using the report as a source.  The effect of the loop, this circulation within a closed circle, is repetition--rather than investigation--of information and escalation of the rhetoric even without new evidence or sources.

Are the sources biased?

No-one should criticize a journalist for writing passionately about human-rights abuses.  However, quoting a journalist who has written a string of such articles as legal evidence is problematic.  If you do an advanced google search of "eradicate tumours" (to include China and eliminate cancer), you get 215 hits. But what does "eradicate tumours" mean?  How should we interpret this expression out of any context?  It sounds like the government has given "repeated, explicit orders" to eradicate Uyghurs, doesn't it?  The phrase "eradicate tumours" is used seven times in the report: once in the table of contents, once as a heading, twice in a footnote and three times in the text, but never in a complete sentence to give it context.  

In order to understand where "eradicate tumours" comes from it is necessary to click on a link in the footnote which leads to an AFP [Agence France-Presse] article by Ben Dooley in which he reports:

Teams like the one sent to Akeqie Kanle from the Bingtuan Broadcast Television University (BBTU)

 [ . . . .]

"The work team is resolute," BBTU's publicity department boasted on social media in an unusual public accounting of the dark side of a work team's operations. "We can completely take the lid off Akeqie Kanle, look behind the curtain, and eradicate its tumours."

Akeqie Kanle is, according to Dooley, a village of 500, and over 100 of its residents have been removed to detention or re-education camps. In the above cluster of mixed metaphors, it is still difficult to interpret an exact meaning for "eradicate its tumours."  The metaphor is in keeping with a theme in Chinese government discourse describing religious extremism as a disease.  The phrase used by "BBTU's publicity department [. . .] on social media" does not appear to rise to the level of "repeated explicit Government orders." It certainly does not mean "eradicate all Uyghurs," as the phrase "eradicate tumours" seems to suggest when used out of context.

China's 9/11

China’s attempts to justify its policies in XUAR  [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region] as a war against extremism, terrorism, or separatism do not absolve the State of responsibility for genocide. These policies primarily target Southern XUAR, where Uyghurs constitute approximately 90 percent of the population [. . . .]

Xinjiang is bordered by eight countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. In my sporadic review of The Xinjiang Victims Database, it appears that various ethnicities are being targeted, especially Kazakhs, and anyone who frequently crosses the border.

Although Newlines' report dismisses the Chinese justification of "a war against extremism, terrorism, or separatism," many of the report's uncontextualized quotations come from a New York Times article in which Chinese officials are being quoted at the height of terrorist attacks in 2014. "Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims" is the most comprehensive and balanced account I have encountered since beginning to research this subject.

From the New York Times

According to the NYT article, "The current crackdown began after a surge of anti-government and anti-Chinese violence, including ethnic riots in 2009 in Urumqi, the regional capital."  In April 2014, "Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31." The same year, "two Uighur militants staged a suicide bombing outside a train station in Urumqi that injured nearly 80 people, one fatally," and "assailants tossed explosives into a vegetable market in Urumqi, wounding 94 people and killing at least 39."  

Based on leaked documents, published alongside the article, the NYT claimed:

Against this backdrop of bloodshed, Mr. Xi delivered a series of secret speeches setting the hard-line course that culminated in the security offensive now underway in Xinjiang. While state media have alluded to these speeches, none were made public. 

Terrorist attacks abroad and the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan heightened the leadership’s fears and helped shape the crackdown. Officials argued that attacks in Britain resulted from policies that put “human rights above security,” and Mr. Xi urged the party to emulate aspects of America’s “war on terror” after the Sept. 11 attacks.

According to the NYT article, President Xi

traced the origins of Islamic extremism in Xinjiang to the Middle East, and warned that turmoil in Syria and Afghanistan would magnify the risks for China. Uighurs had traveled to both countries, he said, and could return to China as seasoned fighters seeking an independent homeland, which they called East Turkestan.  [ . . .] and urged officials to study how Americans responded to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"After the United States pulls troops out of Afghanistan, terrorist organizations positioned on the frontiers of Afghanistan and Pakistan may quickly infiltrate into Central Asia,” Mr. Xi said. “East Turkestan’s terrorists who have received real-war training in Syria and Afghanistan could at any time launch terrorist attacks in Xinjiang."

In several surprising passages, given the crackdown that followed, Mr. Xi also told officials to not discriminate against Uighurs and to respect their right to worship. He warned against overreacting to natural friction between Uighurs and Han Chinese, the nation’s dominant ethnic group, and rejected proposals to try to eliminate Islam entirely in China.

Freedom of religion is provided for in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, yet with a caveat: the government controls what it calls "normal religious activity," defined in practice as activities that take place within government-sanctioned religious organizations and registered places of worship.

According to the Wikipedia article on Religion in China:

The government formally recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam. In the early twenty-first century there has been increasing official recognition of Confucianism and Chinese folk religion as part of China's cultural inheritance.

According to The Uyghur Genocide, the destruction of mosques is significant, physical evidence of the suppression of Islam.

It is estimated that approximately 16,000 mosques in XUAR, or 65 percent of the total, have been destroyed or damaged due to government policies, largely since 2017, with 8,500 mosques completely demolished. 


The report [The Uyghur Genocide] relies most substantially on the “expertise” of Adrian Zenz, the far-right evangelical ideologue, whose “scholarship” on China has been demonstrated to be deeply flawed, riddled with falsehoods and dishonest statistical manipulation. 

"Rape, torture and human experiments. Sayragul Sauytbay offers firsthand testimony from a Xinjiang 'reeducation' camp"

Among the many newspaper articles referenced in The Uyghur Genocide is one published by Haaretz (a newspaper promising all the news on Israel and Jews around the world) with the lengthy title: "A Million People Are Jailed at China's Gulags. I Managed to Escape. Here's What Really Goes on Inside."  The article is based on a series of interviews with Sayragul Sauytbay, a Kazakh, and "a teacher who escaped from China and was granted asylum in Sweden."  By her account, Sauytbay was forced to teach Mandarin in one of the camps where she encountered evidence of "rape, torture and human experiments."  She was able to cross the border from China into Kazakhstan illegally.  In Kazakhstan, she requested asylum, but her request was refused by the Kazakh court.  She then escaped to Sweden.

In response to Sayragul's receiving the award, the Global Times claimed that

According to information from the Xinjiang regional government, Sayragul applied for a 10-year-term repayment loan of 200,000 yuan using forged guarantee materials and guarantor's signature from a rural credit cooperative at Chahanwusu town in June 2015, and currently still owes 149,000 yuan from the loan. 

In December 2016, she applied for another 10-year loan of 270,000 yuan using a fabricated purchase contract, of which she still owes 249,000 yuan. She is facing charges of loan fraud, according to China's Criminal Law.

Sayragul illegally crossed the border and went to Kazakhstan from the China-Kazakhstan Horgas International Border Cooperation Center on April 5, 2018. 
"Sayragul claimed that she graduated from medical university and used to be a doctor. But the truth is, she had studied in the nursery class of Xinjiang Ili Health School, and has no working experience as a doctor. She never worked in any vocational education and training center at all," said the spokesperson.

The Chief Witness

Recently, Sayragul published a book entitled The Chief Witness, which is summarized as follows:

Born in China’s north-western province, Sayragul Sauytbay trained as a doctor before being appointed a senior civil servant. But her life was upended when the Chinese authorities incarcerated her. Her crime: being Kazakh, one of China’s ethnic minorities.
The north-western province borders the largest number of foreign nations and is the point in China that is the closest to Europe. In recent years it has become home to over 1,200 penal camps — modern-day gulags that are estimated to house three million members of the Kazakh and Uyghur minorities. Imprisoned solely due to their ethnicity, inmates are subjected to relentless punishment and torture, including being beaten, raped, and used as subjects for medical experiments. The camps represent the greatest systematic incarceration of an entire people since the Third Reich.
In prison, Sauytbay was put to work teaching Chinese language, culture, and politics, in the course of which she gained access to secret information that revealed Beijing’s long-term plans to undermine not only its minorities, but democracies around the world. Upon her escape to Europe she was reunited with her family, but still lives under the constant threat of reprisal. This rare testimony from the biggest surveillance state in the world reveals not only the full, frightening scope of China’s tyrannical ambitions, but also the resilience and courage of its author.

By her account in Haaretz, she was a language teacher in the camp.  She offers no explanation of how she came to witness medical experiments.  In the article, her knowledge of medicine seems very limited and she offers no examples of having used her medical knowledge while in the camp.   There is no evidence to support the hyperbole that "being Kazakh" would be considered a crime in China.  The estimates of  "1,200 penal camps" and "three million" detainees are the highest numbers I have heard so far.  Of course, we must wonder how Sauytay, a closely guarded prisoner according to her description, would manage to gain "access to secret information that revealed Beijing's long-term plans to undermine not only its minorities but democracies around the world." References to "gulags," "concentration camps," "penal camps," and the "Third Reich" are, I suppose, an expected result of the "feedback loop."  Sayragul Sauytbay's being "the chief witness" is belied by multiple witness statements on The Xinjiang Victims Database.

Who Benefits?

Reading The Uyghur Genocide, I asked the same question I asked in my reading of  Reclaiming Power and Place.  Who benefits?  I doubted that the Canadian report and the claim that murdered Indigenous women and girls were victims of acts of genocide were helpful to current and future generations of young Indigenous women.  Will Western proclamations of genocide benefit the Uyghur in China?  

Will declarations of genocide further the goal of an independent Turkic-Muslim state and an eventual civil war which, according to Chinese sources, the current policies are designed to prevent?  Will Western genocide proclamations cause China to change its human-rights policies?  Can Western democracies successfully threaten China into changing politically?

Chaos under Heaven and "the Thucydides Trap"

In Chaos under Heaven, Josh Rogin describes the Trump "China team" as divided into at least three factions:  the super-hawks who viewed China as an enemy and were determined to destroy the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), the hawks who view China as a competitor, and the "Wall-Street clique," Trump's billionaire buddies who saw China as an opportunity.  Claims of genocide seem to align with the ambitions of the super-hawks and the goal of a new Cold War.  I fail to see another Cold War as a desirable objective. In some quarters, ideology makes a Cold War inevitable, but the same ideology rarely considers the historical evidence (the Thucydides Trap) that cold wars usually lead to hot wars.

The trickle-down effect

What was the intention of the O'Toole genocide resolution?  To win points with the Canadian electorate?  To align with American super-hawks?  Excuse my cynicism, but I find it hard to imagine that the Canadian Conservative Party is driven by compassion for the world's Muslims.

Who benefits from the Conservative proclamation?  Certainly not Michael Korvig and Michael Spavor, who are currently on trial in China.  What about the 300,000 other Canadians now living in China?  In August 2019, the Ottawa Citizen reported Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada says that “Canada has not considered any special program for Uyghurs.”  Have the Conservatives lobbied for some change here?

These days there are regular reports of anti-Asian hate crimes, but I have yet to read any recognition that these attacks are the trickle-down effect of China-bashing by Western politicians and journalists. 


The Conservative Party, in particular, seems to have trouble deciding where it stands on China and the Chinese.  "On 22 June 2006, newly elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized in the House of Commons" for Canada's historical mistreatment of the Chinese. In 2014,

Harper met with both President Hu and Premier Wen, and signed a number of economic agreements that had been prepared by Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird including a uranium export treaty, and the Canada-China Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments Agreement (CCPRPIA), which was linked by the media to (further) potential Chinese investment in the Athabasca oil sands, and had been negotiated for eighteen years. The negotiations and the text itself were kept secret until November 2016. Chinese officials suggested that the next logical step would be a free trade agreement, which Canadian officials promised to study.

In his blog, August 6, 2005,  Andrew Scheer, who would be Harper's successor as leader of the Conservatives, mocked the choice of Adrienne Clarkson, a Chinese-Canadian, as Canada's Governor-General.  And this year, Erin O'Toole accuses China of genocide while it remains Canada's second-largest trading partner.



Twenty-four hours after I published the remark (above) that I had yet to read of any recognition between China-bashing and anti-Asian hate crimes, The Globe and Mail published Doug Saunder's opinion piece, "Confronting China requires us to be precise," which discusses this connection.

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