What’s the Truth About Those “Re-education” Camps in China?
by Robert Wheeler
With the recent media coverage surrounding China’s alleged re-education camps, many Americans are having a knee-jerk reaction, both pro and con, to the claims by Western MSM outlets regarding the nature of the Chinese police state in Xinjiang.
Is China really operating a network of concentration camps or is it really just arresting terrorists and trying to get a handle on the growing terrorist threat in the province? Is it really providing “vocational” training or is it attempting to push state indoctrination into the minds of an entire ethnic group?
For those Americans who see China as their country’s greatest threat, bent on destroying America’s way of life, the answer is clear – the re-education camps are real and they contain a million human beings who were only guilty of being Uyghur ethnic minorities. To those individuals who see China as an honorable opponent of American imperialism, the Asian giant is doing nothing but defending itself from foreign-backed terrorism through means of education.
It is well-known that anything coming from the Western mainstream press is propaganda. It is also well-known that China is nothing if not a violator of human rights that is willing to enact any policy in order to push its own geopolitical or political agenda. Both the American press and the Chinese government are incessant propagandists attempting to push their own agendas forward. So, with all this in mind, how are we to know what is happening and for what reasons?
The fact is that there are more issues than the simple ones presented by either actor – China or the United States – when it comes to this issue.
The Claims: China’s Internment Camps
In September of 2018, a United Nations “watchdog committee” accused China of holding over a million Uighurs and Muslim minorities in political “re-education” camps located in the countries’ Western Xinjiang region.
The committee in question, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, published its findings on China as well as other countries during the course of its latest session that took place in August. The eighteen committee participants who made up the committee claim to have received “numerous credible reports of widespread torture and ill-treatment in China.” The cruel treatment, according to member Nicolas Marugan, is directed at Uighurs, Tibetans, and “other ethnic minorities as well as political protesters and human rights defenders.”
“The committee has been alarmed by numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and often for long periods without being charged or tried under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism. The Committee regrets that there is no official data on how many people are in long-term detention,” Marugan said.
The committee claims that the camps contain from “tens of thousands to upwards of a million” people and that even “non-threatening expressions of Muslim ethno-religious culture like daily greetings” are grounds enough to find an individual locked away.
The committee also warns of mass surveillance which disproportionately targets Uighurs.
China Disputes The Claims
The Chinese government, for its part, denies the existence of internment camps and claims only that it offers education and vocational training.
According to the South China Morning Post, China does admit the existence of “training” centers. The article reads,
China’s far-western Xinjiang region has revised its legislation to allow local governments to “educate and transform” people influenced by extremism at “vocational training centres” – a term used by the government to describe a network of internment facilities known as “re-education camps”.
. . . . .
The change to the law, which took effect on Tuesday, comes amid an international outcry about the secretive camps in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. (source)
But observers said writing the facilities into law did not address global criticism of China’s systematic detention and enforced political education of up to 1 million ethnic Uygurs and other Muslims in the area.
Do The Camps Really Exist?
Note that the West and the United Nations up in arms over the alleged Chinese concentration camps are only focused on two victims – Tibetans and Uighurs. China has been exploiting, torturing, arresting, and slaughtering millions of innocent Chinese people since the days of Mao simply for running afoul of the governments’ agenda or even secretly practicing a faith in the “secular” utopia of “enlightened” Communist rule. That China has the totalitarian system in place and the political will to detain millions of Chinese in internment camps is not really a matter for debate.
However, considering the fact that China and the West are currently locked in a geopolitical battle in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia itself, as well as a trade dispute after Free Trade policies of the United States, have allowed China to suck up double digits percentages of the American economy, there also exists the distinct possibility that the claims regarding “internment camps” are either a.) completely fabricated propaganda 2.) entirely true 3.) partly true but still being used for propaganda purposes. After all, the United States is no friend of human rights, particularly in foreign countries, either.
Tony Cartalucci of Land Destroyer Report casts suspicion on the claims made by Western media. He writes,
Again, the “1 million” number is never verified with evidence, nor does the article, or others like it spreading across the Western media address the fact that China’s Uyghur population is a target of foreign efforts to radicalize and recruit militants to fight proxy wars both across the globe, and within China itself.
Also omitted is any mention of systematic terrorism both inside China and abroad carried out by radicalized Uyghur militants. With this information intentionally and repeatedly omitted, Chinese efforts to confront and contain rampant extremism are easily depicted as “repressive.”
But before he is accused of rushing to China’s aide, readers should ask themselves just how much they know about the Uyghur “minority” Western media is so concerned about.
Who Are The Uighurs?
While the Western press presents Chinese Uyghurs as helpless minorities who are being violently repressed by the Chinese government for reasons of racism alone, the reality is somewhat different. As Brandon Turbeville writes in his article, “From Syria To Asia To Russia – Terror Network Organized By NATO and Turkey,”
The most obvious culprit behind the Uyghur separatist movement in Xinjang if, for no other reason than its past history and current involvement in destabilizations all across the world, is, of course, the United States. After all, the United States has a vested geopolitical interest in the destabilization of China and has been involved with a number of other color revolutions and separatist movements in the past, including the ongoing “Umbrella Revolution” and the Tibet separatist movement in China alone.
The destabilization in Xinjang is yet another Western-backed movement designed to keep the Chinese economic powerhouse under control. For instance, the World Uyghur Congress, an international organization of “exiled Uyghur groups” that allegedly represents the “collective will” of the Uyghur people is nothing more than a Western/NATO front group. The WUC is directly funded by the US State Department through the National Endowment For Democracy (NED). On record, the NED provides the WUC with over a quarter of a million dollars every year.
The NED is responsible for organizing the WUC events and for most of the cost of doing so. Their annual meetings involve a number of Uyghur groups who come together with a host of Western officials, businessmen, and influence peddlers who attend to reaffirm their solidarity with the WUC Uyghur cause.
The official stance of the WUC is one of “nonviolent opposition” to “Chinese occupation.” It states on its own website,
The WUC declares a nonviolent and peaceful opposition movement against Chinese occupation of East Turkestan and an unconditional adherence to the international accepted human rights standard as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and adherence to the principals of democratic pluralism and rejection of totalitarianism, religious intolerance, and terrorism as an instrument of policy.
Yet, while it claims to oppose the use of violence, the WUC regularly justifies that violence or, at the very least, refuses to condemn it. As Tony Cartalucci writes in his own article “Turkish-Uyghur Terror Inc. – America’s Other Al-Qaeda,”
Perhaps the most appalling example of this was when it failed to condemn the 2014 brutal murder of prominent Uyghur imam, 74-year-old Jume Tahir, in front of China’s biggest and oldest mosque. WUC would denounce him as a “tool” of the Chinese government and even go as far as denounce China for sentencing his killers – Uyghur terrorists – to death for the horrific murder.
Clearly WUC not only finds it impossible to denounce terrorism, it willfully serves as rhetorical cover for it. (source)
Turbeville also points out how Uyghur terrorism is used across the world – Syria, China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, Thailand, and Crimea – in order to destabilize and weaken governments not on board with the Western system. I highly recommend accessing the article for a primer on the issue.
Is the truth somewhere in between?
So which side is to be believed? Is China truly locking up a million Chinese nationals in concentration camps for no other reason than their ethnicity or is the Chinese government merely providing vocational training to bring previously neglected people into the 21st Century?
Given that China, in terms of its social policy, is a closed society and the United States, due to its incessant propaganda, is a factually and intellectually closed one, it is doubtful that anyone other than the most intrepid investigative reporter with the financial means and will to investigate the issue independently will ever know the truth.
Given China’s track record of suppression of dissent and lack of any regard for human rights, it is highly likely that the camps in question are indeed internment camps replete with inmates who were sentenced to the confines of their walls without any due process for forced “re-education” and intense brainwashing.
The Chinese government does not tolerate dissent – legitimate or otherwise – and thus will respond to that dissent with an intense crackdown and a mini “Great Leap Forward.” Coupled with the fact that the Uyghurs produce such a legitimate threat of terrorism, funded and organized by foreign powers, out of their ranks, and one can easily see the logical conclusion of mass arrests and indoctrination taking place. China’s entire history in the 20th and 21st Century is one of centralized and directed cultural changes. The idea that the centers are nothing more than vocational training simply beggars belief.
On the other hand, the claims made by the Western media outlets regarding a million Chinese people locked away in the camps seems likely to be overblown. Whether those numbers are exaggerated or not, the United States and the West, in general, will continue to use them and the existence of the camps to demonize China and foster hatred of its political and geopolitical enemy in the far reaches of the empire in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa as well as economic dominance.
Claims of human rights violations have been used against numerous target nations in the past and continue to this day, particularly in places like Iraq, Libya, and Syria in order to justify American military action or the destabilization of the nation in question. That the United States, Western European governments, or the United Nations cares about human rights in China or anywhere else also beggars belief. It’s unfortunately true that, wherever the West finds an enemy in the 21st Century, “concentration camps” are sure to be present, real or otherwise.
Indeed, the United States, which itself operates a number of “black sites” and torture facilities around the world and maintains the largest population of incarcerated people on the planet, scarcely has any grounds to comment on the internal affairs of China, at least not until it gets its own house in order.