In October 2019, several countries joined forces to condemn attacks on China over developments in Xinjiang province where the Chinese government is accused of mistreating or violating the rights of the Uyghur’s, a native minority group in the autonomous region.
Xinjiang, an autonomous region, with a population of over 25 million Chinese people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, is today enjoying remarkable increase economic volume in what is attributed to stability brought about by the founding of the new China.
The Chinese government has succeeded in taking the region out of abject poverty to enjoy similar status as other regions in the country, with the authorities now striving to lift the entire population to economic prosperity.
Looking at the criticism fanned across to China, I get the feeling that perhaps there is a lot of misunderstanding of the whole issue, particularly given the reason given by local authorities bordering on counter-terrorism measures.
While the West has always voiced support to any counter-terrorism measures in other parts of the world, similar measures are being condemned in Xinjiang. I get the feeling China’s economic power as an upcoming force is a threat to other nations hence the criticism.
China has clearly defended itself and demonstrated the measures it is taking to protect the locals while fighting terrorism which is a global threat to peace and stability.
Think of the consequences of terrorism, whenever action is not taken in time. And that applies to countries across the world.
A joint statement issued in October by Belarus, on behalf of 54 countries, highlighted the results of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang, while noting that how they had “effectively safeguarded the basic human rights of people of all ethnic groups.”
This statement, appeared to echo joint statements issued during discussions on human rights at the Third Committee of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, also known as the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee.
Reading these statements, the countries were clear that they were in support of the counter-terrorism measures in Xinjiang because it is within the mandate of every nation to protect and defend its people while warding off any security threat.
China is simply doing what every nation will do when faced with counter-terrorism challenges, its actions or inactions should not be viewed in isolation because this is a sovereign state.
It cannot be taken on face value when any particular state or states, accuse China of violating the people’s human rights without proper analysis of all the facts, factors and the situation on the ground because then this amounts to interference.
In fact, politicising this Xinjiang issue does not, in my view, make matters any better hence the need to thoroughly analyse the situation as opposed to dismissing local authorities whenever they try to explain on their position.
This blanket condemnation of this matter serves to not only provoke tensions but is also a recipe for unnecessary confrontations which does not help the situation.
Some states have protested at the politicisation of the matter and termed it outright interference of Xinjiang and by extension China’s internal affairs.
China is not known to interfere with affairs of other states, and has always maintained a hands-free approach to affairs other countries. Therefore, to meddle on her internal affairs is not only unfair but a violation of its own sovereignty.
China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun holds that developments in Xinjiang does not border on human rights or racial discrimination as suggested by the United States and some other countries.
Just like other authorities in Beijing, Zhang is of the view that these accusations against China amounts to defamation because they are made without basis.
In fact, the question should be, what are the lessons that can be learnt from how China is dealing with ethnic minorities instead of heaping criticisim on her. Every country has its own way of handling complex issues.
With its large population of over a billion people, China has surely tried in maintaining law and order through the Communist Party.
And while every person or nation holds their view on any matter, criticism should always be objective.
Let China deal with its own internal affairs for it stands for socialism.
By Evans Munene,
[The author is an International Relations Scholar who comments on topical diplomacy issues]