Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Beijing’s Repression of Muslims in Xinjiang Alienating Central Asians, Russian Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 17 – Ivan Zuenko, a specialist on China at the Far Eastern Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences, says that Beijing’s repression of Muslims in Xinjiang and the confinement of a million or more of them in political re-education camps is leading to the rise of anti-Chinese attitudes among Central Asians.

            He tells Nargiza Murataliyeva of Kazakhstan’s Institute for Strategic Analysis and Forecasting that China’s heavy-handed approach and its arrogant assumption that it can re-educate anyone is backfiring not only in that region but throughout the Muslim world and promises to undercut Beijing’s efforts there (

            The reality is, Zuenko continues, that “when people hear on the one hand the conclusions of Beijing propaganda about ‘the community of a common fate of humanity,’ and on the other about a million prisoners in ‘re-education camps’ in Xinjiang, they believe the second.” And that will have consequences for China’s foreign policy.

            It will make it more difficult for China to get support for its projects in the region, however much money it pours in. Central Asians may be glad to take Chinese money, but China has little soft power in the region, especially now that Central Asians are well aware of what is going on with their co-ethnics in Xinjiang.

            “Neither mass culture, nor the Chinese way of life, nor the model of organization of society is popular [in Central Asia] or generates any desire for emulation.” Instead, China is increasingly viewed as a new imperial power, and the anti-imperial discourse in the region is ever more frequently directed at Beijing rather than Moscow or the West.

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