Staunton, December 7 – Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan are increasingly agitated by reports that China has incarcerated some 50,000 of their co-ethnics in Xinjiang in political re-education camps on trumped up charges that the Kyrgyz there, one of the most un-Islamic of Turkic peoples, are Islamic radicals.
And other Kyrgyz are upset about the influx of ethnic Chinese into Kyrgyzstan, their intermarriage with Kyrgyz women, and their increasing prominence in the economy and public life. Some even fear that if this trend continues, Kyrgyzstan will be absorbed by China within two decades.
Marat Tagayev, a member of the Committee for the Support of Chinese Kyrgyz, says that only three to five percent of the Kyrgyz in Xinjiang are religious Muslims; but despite that, Beijing is oppressing them as if they are (ritmeurasia.org/news--2018-12-07--desjatki-tysjach-kirgizov-opredeleny-kitajskimi-vlastjami-v-trudovye-lagerja-39983).
Other members of the committee say the same thing and note that anti-Chinese attitudes are intensifying in Kyrgyzstan as a result. Those attitudes had been growing because of the increasing number of Chinese who now live and work permanently in the republic. There are an estimated 100,000 ethnic Chinese out of the country’s six million people.
They occupy prominent places in trade and business, something Kyrgyz don’t like. But Bishkek can do little: at present, Kyrgyzstan owes 40 percent of its foreign debt to China and depends on China for trade and the development of the Silk Road. That has already led some in the population to protest.
According to Bishkek political analyst Igor Shestakov, there have been pickets at the UN office about the Chinese. But because the government hasn’t taken a strong position on the re-education camps, ever more Kyrgyz media figures and politicians are speaking out, often in extremely radical ways.
One Kyrgyz parliamentary deputy, Tazabek Ikramov, has even suggested that if things continue as they are now, Kyrgyzstan’s national security will be at risk and even that “20 years from now, we could become a province of China” (kyrtag.kg/ru/news/cherez-20-let-kyrgyzstan-riskuet-stat-kitayskoy-provintsiey-deputat-ikramov).
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