US/NATO vs. Russia-China in a hybrid war to the finish

US/NATO vs. Russia-China in a hybrid war to the finish

March 27, 2021

The unipolar moment is six feet under, the hegemon will try to break Eurasian integration and there’s no grownup in the room to counsel restraint

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Let’s start with comic relief: the “leader of the free world” has pledged to prevent China from becoming the “leading” nation on the planet. And to fulfill such an exceptional mission, his “expectation” is to run again for president in 2024. Not as a hologram. And fielding the same running mate.

Now that the “free world” has breathed a sigh of relief, let’s return to serious matters – as in the contours of the Shocked and Awed 21st Century Geopolitics.

What happened in the past few days between Anchorage and Guilin continues to reverberate. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Brussels “destroyed” the relationship between Russia and the EU, he focused on how the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership is getting stronger and stronger.

Not so casual synchronicity revealed that as Lavrov was being properly hosted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Guilin – scenic lunch in the Li river included -, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken was visiting NATO’s James-Bondish HQ outside Brussels.

Lavrov made it quite clear that the core of Russia-China revolves around establishing an economic and financial axis to counterpunch the Bretton Woods arrangement. That implies doing everything to protect Moscow and Beijing from “threats of sanctions by other states”; progressive de-dollarization; and advances in crypto-currency.

This “triple threat” is what is unleashing the Hegemon’s unbounded fury.

On a broader spectrum, the Russia-China strategy also implies that the progressive interaction between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) will keep apace across Central Asia, Southeast Asia, parts of South Asia, and Southwest Asia – necessary steps towards an ultimately unified Eurasian market under a sort of strategic Sino-Russo management.

In Alaska, the Blinken-Sullivan team learned, at their expense, that you don’t mess with a Yoda such as Yang Jiechi with impunity. Now they’re about to learn what it means to mess with Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Security Council.

Patrushev, as much a Yoda as Yang Jiechi, and a master of understatement, delivered a not so cryptic message: if the US created “though days” for Russia, as they “are planning that, they can implement that”, Washington “would be responsible for the steps that they would take”.

What NATO is really up to

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Blinken was enacting a Perfect Couple  routine with spectacularly inefficient head of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen. The script went something like this. “Nord Stream 2 is really bad for you. A trade/investment deal with China is really bad for you. Now sit. Good girl.”

Then came NATO, which put on quite a show, complete with an all-Foreign Minister tough guy pose in front of the HQ. That was part of a summit – which predictably did not “celebrate” the 10th anniversary of NATO’s destruction of Libya or the major ass-kicking NATO “endured” in Afghanistan.

In June 2020, NATO’s cardboard secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg – actually his US military handlers – laid out what is now known as the NATO 2030 strategy, which boils down to a Global Robocop politico-military mandate. The Global South has (not) been warned.

In Afghanistan, according to a Stoltenberg impervious to irony, NATO supports infusing “fresh energy into the peace process”. At the summit, NATO ministers also discussed Middle East and Northern Africa and – with a straight face – looked into “what more NATO could do to build stability in the region”. Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Libyans, Malians would love to learn something about that.

Post-summit, Stoltenberg delivered a proverbially somnolent press conference where the main focus was – what else – Russia, and its “pattern for repressive behavior at home, aggressive behavior abroad”.

All the rhetoric about NATO “building stability” vanishes when one examines what’s really behind NATO 2030, via a meaty “recommendation” report written by a bunch of “experts”

Here we learn the three essentials:

1. “The Alliance must respond to Russian threats and hostile actions (…) without a return to ‘business as usual’ barring alterations in Russia’s aggressive behavior and its return to full compliance with international law.”

2. China is depicted as a tsunami of “security challenges”: “The Alliance should infuse the China challenge throughout existing structures and consider establishing a consultative body to discuss all aspects of Allies’ security interests vis-à-vis China”. The emphasis is to “defend against any Chinese activities that could impact collective defense, military readiness or resilience in the Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility.”

3. “NATO should outline a global blueprint (italics mine) for better utilizing its partnerships to advance NATO strategic interests. It should shift from the current demand-driven approach to an interest-driven approach (italics mine) and consider providing more stable and predictable resource streams for partnership activities. NATO’s Open Door Policy should be upheld and reinvigorated. NATO should expand and strengthen partnerships with Ukraine and Georgia.”

Here’s to The Triple Threat. Yet the Top of the Pops – as in fat, juicy industrial-military complex contracts – is really here:

The most profound geopolitical challenge is posed by Russia. While Russia is by economic and social measures a declining power, it has proven itself capable of territorial aggression and is likely to remain a chief threat facing NATO over the coming decade.

NATO may be redacting, but the master script comes straight from the Deep State – complete with Russia “seeking hegemony”; expanding Hybrid War (the concept was actually invented by the Deep State); and manipulating “cyber, state-sanctioned assassinations, and poisonings – using chemical weapons, political coercion, and other methods to violate the sovereignty of Allies.”

Beijing for its part is using “force against its neighbors, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region. Over the coming decade, China will likely also challenge NATO’s ability to build collective resilience.”

The Global South should be very much aware of NATO’s pledge to save the “free world” from these autocratic evils.

The NATO interpretation of “South” encompasses North Africa and the Middle East, in fact everywhere from sub-Saharan Africa to Afghanistan. Any similarity with the presumably defunct “Greater Middle East” concept of the Dubya era is not an accident.

NATO insists this vast expanse is characterized by “fragility, instability, and insecurity” – of course refusing to disclose its own role as serial instability perpetrator in Libya, Iraq, parts of Syria and Afghanistan.

Because ultimately…it’s all Russia’s fault: “To the South, the challenge includes the presence of Russia and to a lesser extent China, exploiting regional fragilities. Russia has reinserted itself in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2015, it intervened in the Syrian Civil War and remains there. Russia’s Middle East policy is likely to exacerbate tensions and political strife across the region as it extends an increasing amount of political, financial, operational, and logistical assets to its partners. China’s influence across the Middle East is also growing. It signed a strategic partnership with Iran, is the largest importer of crude oil from Iraq, wedged itself into the Afghanistan peace process, and is the biggest foreign investor in the region.”

Here, in a nutshell, and not exactly in code, is the NATO road map all the way to 2030 to harass and try to dismantle every relevant nook and cranny of Eurasia integration, especially those directly linked to New Silk Roads infrastructure/connectivity projects (investment in Iran, reconstruction of Syria, reconstruction of Iraq, reconstruction of Afghanistan).

The spin is on a “360-degree approach to security” that will “become an imperative”. Translation: NATO is coming for large swathes of the Global South, big time, under the pretense of “addressing both the traditional threats emanating from this region like terrorism and new risks, including the growing presence of Russia, and to a lesser extent China.”

Hybrid war on two fronts

And to think that in a not so distant past there used to be some flashes of lucidity emanating from the US establishment.

Very few will remember that in 1993 James Baker, former Secretary of State under Daddy Bush, advanced the idea of expanding NATO to Russia, which at the time, under Yeltsin and a gang of Milton Friedmanesque free marketeers, was devastated, but ruled by “democracy”. Yet Bill Clinton was already in power, and the idea was duly discarded.

Six years later, no less than George Kennan – who invented the containment of the USSR in the first place – determined that the NATO annexation of former Soviet satellites was “the beginning of a new Cold War” and “a tragic mistake”.

It’s immensely enlightening to relieve and re-study the whole decade between the fall of the USSR and the election of Putin to the presidency through the venerable Yevgeny Primakov’s book Russian Crossroads: Toward the New Millenium, published in the US by Yale University Press.

Primakov, the ultimate intel insider who started as a Pravda correspondent in the Middle East, former Foreign Minister and also Prime Minister, looked closely into Putin’s soul, repeatedly, and liked what he saw: a man of integrity and a consummate professional. Primakov was a multilateralist avant la lettre, the conceptual instigator of RIC (Russia-India-China) which in the next decade evolved towards BRICS.

Those were the days – exactly 22 years ago – when Primakov was on a plane to Washington when he picked up a call by then Vice-President Al Gore: the US was about to start bombing Yugoslavia, a slav-orthodox Russian ally, and there was nothing the former superpower could do about it. Primakov ordered the pilot to turn around and fly back to Moscow.

Now Russia is powerful enough to advance its own Greater Eurasia concept, which moving forward should be balancing – and complementing – China’s New Silk Roads. It’s the power of this Double Helix – which is bound to inevitably attract key sectors of Western Europe – that is driving the Hegemon’s ruling class dazed and confused.

Glenn Diesen, author of Russian Conservatism: Managing Change Under Permanent Revolution, which I analyzed in Why Russia is Driving the West Crazy , and one of the best global analysts of Eurasia integration, summed it all up: “The US has had great difficulties in terms of converting the security dependence of the allies into geoeconomic loyalty, as evident by the Europeans still buying Chinese technologies and Russian energy.

Hence permanent Divide and Rule, featuring one of its key targets: cajole, force, bribe and all of the above for the European Parliament to scotch the China-EU trade/investment deal.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Center for European Studies at Renmin University and author of the best made in China book about the New Silk Roads, clearly sees through the “America is back” bluster: “China is not isolated by the US, the West or even the whole international community. The more hostility they show, the more anxiety they have. When the US travels around the globe to frequently ask for support, unity and help from its allies, this means US hegemony is weakening.”

Wang even forecasts what may happen if the current “leader of the free world” is prevented from fulfilling his exceptional mission: “Don’t be fooled by the sanctions between China and the EU, which is harmless to trade and economic ties, and EU leaders won’t be that stupid to totally abandon the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, because they know they would never get such a good deal when Trump or Trumpism returns to the White House.”

Shocked and Awed 21st Century Geopolitics, as configured in these crucial past two weeks, spells out the Unipolar Moment is six feet under. The Hegemon will never admit it; hence the NATO counterpunch, which was pre-designed. Ultimately, the Hegemon has decided not to engage in diplomatic accommodation, but to wage a hybrid war on two fronts against a relentlessly demonized strategic partnership of peer competitors.

And as a sign of these sorry times, there’s no James Baker or George Kennan to advise against such folly.

Xinjiang: An In-Depth Analysis and Resource Compilation

Source

Based on a handful of think tank reports and witness testimonies, Western governments have levied false allegations of genocide and slavery in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. A closer look makes clear that the politicization of China’s anti-terrorism policies in Xinjiang is another front of the U.S.-led hybrid war on China.

This resource compilation provides a starting point for critical inquiry into the historical context and international response to China’s policies in Xinjiang, providing a counter-perspective to misinformation that abounds in mainstream coverage of the autonomous region.


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction and Summary
  2. Timeline of Events
    1. 1989-2016
      1. Formation of the World Uyghur Congress (1989-2006)
      2. Violence and Unrest (2009-2016)
      3. Chinese Anti-Terrorism Policy and Context (2012-2016)
    2.  2017-present
      1. The Seeds of Controversy (2017-Aug 2018)
      2. Entrenching the Narratives (Aug 2018-Jan 2020)
      3. U.S. Pursues Unilateral Action (Jan 2020-present)
    3. On the Nature of Unsubstantiated Allegations
  3. Resources
    1. Overview
    2. Chinese Perspectives on the Problem of Terrorism
    3. Geopolitical Context
    4. Poverty Alleviation and Economic Development in Xinjiang
    5. Overview of Chinese Minority/Religious Policies
    6. The Misinformation Industrial Complex
    7. Views from Xinjiang: People, Cultures, and History

1. Introduction and Summary

In the mid-2010s, China launched far-reaching de-radicalization and economic development programs in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Before then, few casual Western observers were even aware of the province’s existence, which makes up 17% of China’s land and whose population consists of 65% ethnic minority peoples. Fewer still could speak to the autonomous region’s complex political, cultural, and religious history as well as to its complex legacies as a crossroads between diverse peoples over many centuries.

However, since 2018, Western media and state officials have put Chinese government policy in Xinjiang under intense scrutiny, citing just a handful of think tank reports and witness testimonies to lodge charges of forced labor, slavery, and genocide.       

Having saturated Western media, these charges are difficult to systematically refute. The situation on the ground is complex, and there are limits to what we can know. While we recognize that there are aspects of PRC policy in Xinjiang to critique, these critiques should be debated and resolved on Chinese terms and in Chinese dialogues, and not be used as crude ammunition in the U.S.-led geopolitical assault on China. Based on the history of Western atrocity propaganda, its funding sources, and the poor quality of the ‘research’ being pushed, we are skeptical that the U.S.—having engaged in two decades of perpetual war in Muslim-majority nations—has any legitimate moral interest or grounds on which to defend Muslim religious rights in Xinjiang. 

Moreover, given the history of PRC ethnic and religious minority policy, and the reports from first-hand delegations to Xinjiang from countries and organizations including Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and even the World Bank, neither genocide nor slavery accurately describe the realities of Xinjiang. It is not a coincidence that these accusations have ramped up during a period of unprecedented Western antagonism towards China. Instead, these unfounded claims serve primarily to build consensus for conflict, intervention, and war with China. 

The effectiveness of Western propaganda lies in its ability to render unthinkable any critique or alternative—to monopolize the production of knowledge and truth itself. In this context, it is important to note that the U.S. and its allies are in the minority when it comes to its critiques of Chinese policy in Xinjiang. At two separate convenings of the UN Human Rights Council in 2019 and 2020, letters condemning Chinese conduct in Xinjiang were outvoted, 22-50 and 27-46. Many of those standing in support of Chinese policy in Xinjiang are Muslim-majority nations and/or nations that have waged campaigns against extremism on their own soil, including Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, and Nigeria. On the issue of Xinjiang, the clear break in consensus between the Global South and the U.S. bloc suggests that Western critiques of Xinjiang are primarily politically motivated. 

These resources are preceded by a timeline that focuses on the events preceding China’s Xinjiang de-radicalization program, the international responses it provoked, and other relevant contexts.       

This resource list is intended only for initial inquiry into the immediate controversy over China’s de-radicalization program in Xinjiang. In the spirit of seeking truth from facts, this resource does not offer definitive answers, nor is it comprehensive in scope. It aims only to be a starting point for critical inquiry, and we urge readers to seek a diversity of sources and form their own opinions. A more complete and nuanced view requires further study into the region’s history, China’s policies towards ethnic and religious minorities, and ongoing geopolitical developments.

Note: There are several ways to spell “Uygur” in English, including “Uygur,” “Uighur” and “Uyghur.” “Uyghur” is perhaps the most common in international settings, although “Uygur” is the official romanization by the Chinese government. We will use “Uyghur” in accordance with the common spelling in Western dialogue, except when referring specifically to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Similarly, the common Western spelling of “Kazakh” and “Kyrgyz” differs from the Chinese government’s official romanizations of “Kazak” and “Kirgiz.” We will similarly use the common Western spelling.


2. Timeline of Events

a. 1989-2016

From 1990-2016, China considered the terrorism problem to be particularly severe in Xinjiang. It is a period marked by immense difficulty and upheaval for China, unilateral U.S. military action throughout West Asia, and rapid Chinese economic growth.

i. Formation of the World Uyghur Congress (1989-2006)

➤ 1989 June 4 – The Tiananmen June 4th Incident, born of contradictions from market reform, inflamed by Gorbachev’s perestroika, and combined with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its fall on December 26, 1991, sparks a generational crisis in China. A wave of disillusioned students and upwardly-mobile young people leave China for the U.S. and other Western nations, with some receiving lavish attention and platforms as ‘dissidents’ who serve a strategic interest for U.S. ambitions vis-a-vis China.

  • Some of the most prominent Uyghur diaspora activist leaders today are as follows: Erkin Alptekin, Rushan Abbas, Dolkun Isa, Rebiya Kadeer, Omer Kanat, and Nury Turkel. Of these six, four arrived in the West on or after 1989 (Abbas 1989; Isa 1994; Turkel 1995; Kadeer 2005, as the cause célèbre of Turkel). Alptekin left around 1949 as part of the Guomindang’s defeat and Kanat left in 1971.  

➤ 1990 April 5 – Baren Township Riots, considered the first terrorist attack of a phase lasting till 2016 during which terrorism was considered a severe problem in Xinjiang. This is also the first attack China has attributed to the then East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), now Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) (ETIM/TIP). (see White Paper: The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang)

➤ 1996 November – The World Uyghur Youth Congress (WUYC) is established in Germany, with Omer Kanat and Dolkun Isa playing important roles. Both of them still hold high positions (Chairman of the Executive Committee and President, respectively) in the WUYC’s successor organization, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC). Kanat apparently left China in 1971 to Afghanistan, then to Turkey in 1979, before moving to the United States in 1999; Isa left China in 1994. Kanat has served as the Senior Editor of Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service from 1999 to 2009.

➤ 1998 April – The Uyghur American Association (UAA) is founded. One of the people who played an important rule in its founding is Rushan Abbas, who would serve as Vice President for the UAA for two terms while also reporting for Radio Free Asia. Abbas arrived in the United States in 1989 and co-founded the United States’ first Uyghur association, the Uyghur Overseas Student and Scholars Association, in 1993.

  • Abbas would later serve the United States at Guantanamo as a linguist and a translator. This has caused some netizens to doubt her legitimacy to speak on human rights issues.

➤ 2001 June 15 – In the inaugural meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China identified the “three evils” (the Chinese term 三股势力 is more akin to the “three forces” or “three influences”) of extremism (极端主义), separatism (分裂主义), and terrorism (恐怖主义). It has since applied this framework to the terrorism problem in Xinjiang. (see The Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism)

➤ 2001 September 11 – The 9/11 attacks claim the lives of 2,977 people (excluding the perpetrators). In response, the United States begins to wage the “War on Terror” and engaged itself in combat in at least 24 countries. This war has displaced anywhere between 37 to 59 million, according to a recent report (September 2020) from Brown University. This report also notes that 801,000 have died as a direct result from combat, but “indirect deaths” may reach up to 3.1 million after a war that has lasted almost two decades. 

➤ 2002 September 11 – The United Nations registers the ETIM/TIP as a terrorist organization. As of 2020, the United States Department of State has still not classified the ETIM/TIP as a terrorist organization, although the Department of State designated ETIM/TIP under E.O. 13224 prohibiting transactions with “Persons Who Commit, Threaten To Commit, or Support Terrorism” on September 3, 2002.

➤ 2003 December 15 – China designates the ETIM/TIP, the WUYC, and two other organizations as terrorist organizations.

➤ 2004 April 16 – The WUC is founded in Munich, merging the East Turkestan National Congress and the WUYC. Its inaugural president is Erkin Alptekin, the son of Isa Yusuf Alptekin, a Guomindang affiliate who was virulently anti-communist (to the point that he largely opposed the Soviet-backed Second East Turkistan Republic) and violently opposed marriage between Hans and Uyghurs. Isa Alptekin remained active in Turkey after the Communist victory in China. 

  • Presumably around the same time, the Uyghur American Association founded the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) with a supporting grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The UHRP was co-founded by Nury Turkel, who arrived in the United States in 1995 and was appointed to be a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on May 26, 2020.
  • The NED has since boasted on May 29, 2020 that it “has awarded $8,758,300 to Uyghur groups since 2004, serving as the only institutional funder for Uyghur advocacy and human rights organizations.”
  • Erkin Alptekin himself is a longtime affiliate of the CIA, helping the CIA to build up “network of contacts with the Uighur separatist elements” in the 1970s and 1980s, and enjoying close relations with the 14th Dalai Lama. (see Raman, Bahukutumbi. “US & Terrorism in Xinjiang.” South Asia Analysis Group (Paper no. 499) (2002).)

➤ 2006 November 26 – Rebiya Kadeer is elected president of the WUC. Kadeer was sentenced to 8 years in prison for providing state information to foreign entities in 2000. This was after a career as a business owner, Vice-Chairwoman of the Xinjiang Federation of Industry and Commerce, Vice-Chairwoman of the Xinjiang Association of Women Entrepreneurs, and as a member of the 8th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. She was given leave on March 17th, 2005 to seek medical treatment in the United States on condition that she not engage in any subversive activities abroad.


ii. Violence and Unrest (2009-2016)

The extent of terrorist violence in China during this period is not well known in the West. Although there were many attacks between 1990 and 2016 and not all of the information is yet available, some high-profile attacks are as follows:

➤ 2009 July 5The Urumqi Riots, 197 killed, 1700 wounded. Chinese investigations allege that the riots were enflamed by foreign entities such as the WUC to undermine regional stability and unity. As an aside, due to Facebook’s failure to provide information to the Chinese government following the attacks, Western social media was banned from China.

➤ 2013 October 28 – Tiananmen Attack, 5 killed, 40 wounded. Usmen Hasan, along with his mother and wife, drives a jeep through a crowd at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square before setting the vehicle on fire. Authorities find “extremist religious content” and a jihadi flag in the remains of the vehicle.

➤ 2014 March 1 – Kunming Train Station Attack, 31 killed, 141 wounded. Eight attackers burst into the city’s rail station, stabbing people at random before police arrive at the scene. Officials identify the leader of the group as Abdurehim Kurban, and state that insignias and flags worn by the attackers point to political involvement as “East Turkestan” separatists. The international community, including U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, joins China in denouncing the attack as an act of terrorism. 

➤ 2014 May 22 – Urumqi Attack, 39 killed and 94 injured as attackers drive two cars into a crowded marketplace and throw explosives towards surrounding buildings.

➤ 2014 July 30Assassination of Imam Jume Tahir at the Id Kah Mosque after morning prayers. Tahir was the practicing imam of Id Kah, China’s largest mosque, as well as a deputy to the National People’s Congress and vice president of the China Islamic Association. Tahir had called for peace and stability amidst rising violence in the region. (see also)

➤ 2016 September 6 – Kyrgyzstan’s state security service attributed the suicide bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek to the ETIM/TIP.


iii. Chinese Anti-Terrorism Policy and International Context (2012-2016)

➤ 2012 October 30 – Chinese officials announce that since May 2012, ETIM/TIP has been participating in the Syrian Civil War, which had started in early 2011. (Later Anadolu Agency report from 2014)

➤ 2014 May 25 – The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region issues a notification on “Striking Hard Against Terrorist Activities Within the Confines of the Law,” indicating a turn of attention towards the problem of terrorism in Xinjiang.

➤ 2015 – A “Turkish passport plot” (see Global Times report) is exposed in which Turkey provided false passports to Chinese nationals in third countries (usually Thailand & Malaysia) for passage to Turkey.

➤ 2015 January 1Shohrat Zakir, a CPC cadre of Uygur nationality, assumes his current position of Chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. He additionally remains the Deputy Party Secretary of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a position he has held since December 2014, and Secretary of the Party Group of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a position he has held since December 2013. This is in culmination of a decades-long career serving the CPC and Xinjiang, including serving on the Party Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) from December 2005 to June 2011.

➤ 2015 May 29 – China receives a loan from the World Bank on the “Xinjiang Technical and Vocational Education and Training Project,” a five-year project lasting until April 30, 2020. It is the “fourth technical and vocational education and training project that the World Bank has supported in China since 2007.” This loan would be reviewed by the World Bank later on November 11, 2019. On March 31, 2019, it was reported that 113,880 students had enrolled in schools funded by this project, of which 40,413 were women and 65,015 were minorities.

➤ 2015 July – Thailand repatriates 109 Chinese nationals allegedly en route to Turkey to join terrorist groups in Syria. A few weeks later on August 17, 2015, terrorists detonated a bomb in Bangkok, claiming 20 lives. 2 Chinese nationals of the Uyghur nationality were charged. The prevailing theory is that it was in retaliation for the repatriation.

➤ Mid-2015 – The ETIM/TIP becomes settled in Idlib Province, Syria, particularly in the city of Jisr al-Shughur, near the border with Turkey. The ETIM/TIP occupation of Jisr al-Shughur is marked by “changing demographics” (p. 15) and sectarian violence.

➤ 2015 October – France begins operating “de-radicalization programs.” It would seem these programs have since garnered mostly criticism from the public, but mainstream Western discourse has not accused France of cultural genocide.

  • While France’s de-radicalization program largely attracted controversy, programs like Denmark’s preceding France’s mostly went unnoticed, even being praised as a “groundbreaking de-radicalization program focused on providing opportunity to reintegrate versus punishment.”
  • A year later in October 2016, the United Kingdom began the “Desistance and Disengagement Programme” aimed at “address[ing] the root causes of terrorism, build resilience, and contribute towards the deradicalisation of individuals.”
  • New York Times reported on Kazakhstan’s de-radicalization program on August 10, 2019.

➤ 2015 December 27 – The 12th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passes the “Anti-Terrorism Law” (Chinese-language text), the first of its kind in the country.

➤ 2016 Chen Quanguo is appointed the Party Secretary of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the First Commissar of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (The First Commissar of XPCC is always held by the Party Secretary of Xinjiang). As his previous tenure from 2011 to 2016 was as the Party Secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region, Western NGOs cite Chen’s influence for alleged increase in human rights abuses in Xinjiang. A year later in 2017, Chen would be appointed a seat in the Politburo while retaining his two posts.

➤ 2016 December 23 – Adrian Zenz begins his career pivot to Xinjiang after a brief focus on Tibetan language and culture (and born-again Christian writings) with a Foreign Affairs article about Xinjiang’s police and surveillance apparatus.


b. 2017-Present

The waning of the severity of extremist violence in Xinjiang by 2017 coincided with elevated antagonisms in the U.S.-China relationship. The Trump Administration’s inaugural National Security Strategy document identified China as a strategic threat to U.S. power, setting the stage for ongoing trade, tech, and ideological attacks on China. During this time, the U.S. raised the issue of Xinjiang in international bodies and federal legislation as part of its efforts to isolate China on the world stage.

i. The Seeds of Controversy (2017-Aug 2018)

➤ 2017 March 6 – President Donald Trump signs Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” or “Travel Ban 2.0,” superseding EO 13769 issued on January 27, 2017. It originally banned the entry of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—all Muslim-majority countries. This was all done quickly after President Trump assumed his post on January 20, 2017, after fervently advocating a “Muslim Ban” during his candidacy (see J. Sotomayor’s dissent in Trump v. Hawaii). 

➤ 2017 March 14 – Zenz joins the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief and continues his pivot to Xinjiang, initially focusing on the securitization of Xinjiang. (2017-3-14 Article, 2017-9-21 Article, 2018-3-12 Article) Interestingly, Adrian Zenz’s March 14th, 2017 article was considered a “fair assessment,” if biased, by Ian Goodrum, writer and digital editor for China Daily, indicating that there may have been a time Adrian Zenz did not feel as clearly “led by God” on a mission against China, as he indicated on May 21, 2019.

➤ 2017 March 29 – The 12th Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region passes the “Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations” (Chinese-language text). Contemporary mainstream media’s focused criticisms on the “ban on long beards, veils” (Al-Jazeera) articulated in Article 9 of the original Regulations and not on Article 14, which outlined education and psychological counseling as part of de-radicalization work. 

➤ 2017 May 11 – Syrian ambassador tells China that up to 5000 ethnic Uyghurs were fighting in various militant groups in Syria.

➤ 2017 June 1 – China releases the white paper “Human Rights in Xinjiang – Development and Progress.”

➤ 2017 August 1 – WUC begins activism and writing on “internment camps,” citing April and May as the first months of detainment of Uyghur citizens. Sporadic reporting include: 

  • September 10, 2017 Human Rights Watch report alleging “thousands” of detainees. Interestingly, Human Rights Watch reported that “State media in Xinjiang, including the Xinjiang Daily, have reported on these facilities,” which would seem to contradict Reuters’ later 2018 headline that the facilities were “secret.” 
  • January 22, 2018 Radio Free Asia report claims “around 120,000” detainees based on information provided by an anonymous source from Chasa Township (possibly 恰萨美其特乡)
  • February 28, 2018 Foreign Policy article by a “Special Correspondent” on “A Summer Vacation in China’s Muslim Gulag.”
  • March 13, 2018 Newsweek Japan article (Japanese-language) by Naoko Mizutani (Japanese researcher previously barred from China for her support of Rebiya Kadeer) reporting “890,000 or more” detainees based on an unverified “leak” by Istiqlal TV (Uyghur-language, “leaked information” at 3:14), a Turkey-based media platform advocating for separatism from China. Also runs the English-language Turkistan Times.
    • As an aside, Rebiya Kadeer has also previously visited the Yasukuni Shrine on May 14th, 2012. The Yasukuni Shrine honors, among others, 1068 war criminals, including 14 Class A war criminals, as ruled by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.

➤ 2017 September – Presumably around this time, Rushan Abbas founds the Campaign for Uyghurs.

  • On November 12, 2017, Dolkun Isa takes Rebiya Kadeer’s place as President of the World Uyghur Congress. Although Kadeer said, “It is time for the younger generation to take up the leadership role at the WUC,” Isa seems to have been involved in diaspora Uyghur organizations longer than she has, at least overtly (since at least 1996 for Isa and since at least 2005 for Kadeer). 
  • Similarly, Omer Kanat sometime in 2017 took up both the Chairman of the World Uyghur Congress Executive Committee and Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

➤ 2018 April 26 – Mike Pompeo, former Director of the CIA and notoriously proud of lying, cheating, and stealing, assumes office as Secretary of State, heralding a new era of rapidly deteriorating U.S.-China relations.

  • Prior to assuming the post of the United States’ foremost diplomat, Pompeo had a long and distinguished history of being a relentless Islamophobe. Among other instances, he declared that “silence [in condemning the 2013 Boston bombings] has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit.”

➤ 2018 May 15 – Zenz starts to fix his eyes on Xinjiang’s de-radicalization program and criticizes education as de-radicalization work authorized by Article 14 of the Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations. Between “several hundred thousand and just over one million” detainees are “estimate[d]” from “information from various sources…”, citing specifically Naoko Mizutani’s Newsweek Japan article.

➤ 2018 May 29 – The United States Department of State, Office of International Religious Freedom releases the 2017 Report on International Religious Freedom. Its report on China raises concerns that “human rights groups and others reported hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims… forcibly sent to re-education camps…”

➤ 2018 August 3 – Chinese Human Rights Defenders publishes a report “China: Massive Numbers of Uyghurs & Other Ethnic Minorities Forced into Re-education Programs.” This is the report taking eight anonymous interviewees and extrapolating 1 million incarcerated (or even up to 3 million) from their unverified statements.


ii. Entrenching the Narratives (Aug 2018-Jan 2020)

➤ 2018 August 10 – Meeting of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is here that Gay McDougall alleged concentration camps, forcing the controversy over the de-radicalization program in general, and the vocational centers in particular, into wide public discourse for the first time. (press release, 2018-8-13)

  • Reuters on the same day erroneously reported it as “U.N. says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.” Most news outlets failed to clarify that the UN CERD—let alone a sole committee member thereof—cannot speak for the UN; Gay McDougall said she had credible reports but failed to cite them.
    • Grayzone rebuttal by Ben Norton & Ajit Singh
  • The Press release actually reads: “Committee Experts, in the dialogue that followed, congratulated China for creating extraordinary prosperity and lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, including in the eight multi-ethnic provinces and regions, but remain concerned over the growing inequality, particularly for ethnic minorities who continued to disproportionately experience poverty… A great source of concern was racial discrimination in the context of laws fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism, particularly against Tibetans, Uyghurs, and other ethnic minorities.” (As it turns out, Gay McDougall was both the only American at the meeting and the only person at the meeting to bring up “internment camps”)

➤ 2018 August 20 – While being interviewed by Max Blumenthal from the Grayzone, Omer Kanat admits that the “one million” figure was from “Western media estimates.” 

➤ 2018 September 6 – Adrian Zenz publishes “Thoroughly Reforming Them Towards a Healthy Heart Attitude: China’s Political Re-Education Campaign in Xinjiang” in the Central Asian Survey, a peer-reviewed article version of Zenz’s May 15, 2018 report. In it, Zenz clarifies the sources for his estimate of “approx. 1,060,000”: Naoko Mizutani’s Newsweek Japan article and Radio Free Asia.

➤ 2018 October 9 – The 13th Standing Committee of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region People’s Congress amends the “Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations” (amended Chinese text here) to expressly outline vocational education as a central strategy for de-radicalization work (Global Times report, SCMP report) (Relevant changes: Article 14 amended; Articles 17, 21, 33 added).

  • It is important to note that vocational education is not unique to Xinjiang. For instance, the Ministry of Education reported in 2015 that 7.25 million adult students were undergoing non-academic degree higher education, while the Ministry reported in 2018 that 11.3 million students were registered in vocational colleges. The white paper “Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang” provides further that from 2014 to 2019 “Xinjiang provided training sessions [vocational education] to an average of 1.29 million urban and rural workers [annually], of which 451,400 were in southern Xinjiang.” This 1.29 million figure here is for all vocational education, not just persons who undergo vocational education as a part of the de-radicalization program.

➤ 2018 November 1 – The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) publishes “Mapping Xinjiang’s ‘re-education’ camps,” a report analyzing satellite imagery. Mainly, ASPI analyzes “28 facilities,” but alleges 181 (Agence France-Presse) or “as many as 1,200” (Adrian Zenz) such facilities, although an examination of their cited sources reveals no evidentiary basis for such allegations. (Note: ASPI is primarily funded by the Australian government and maintains strong funding relationships with weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin)

➤ 2018 November 15 – China releases the white paper “Cultural Protection and Development in Xinjiang.”

➤ 2018 December 19 – Relying on ASPI personnel and witnesses, AP condemns Hetian Taida Apparel for using “forced labor” due to its public association with a vocational training program, which AP insinuated were “concentration camps.” The Hetian Taida Apparel ordeal is the birth of the “forced labor” allegations in the current controversy. 

➤ 2018 December 28-30 – Diplomats from 12 countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Thailand, and Kuwait) visit Xinjiang. Pakistani diplomat Mumtaz Zahra Baloch reported that the delegation was given full and open access to three vocational centers and that she “did not find any instance of forced labor or cultural and religious repression” during her tours of the region.

➤ 2019 January 6 – Reuters visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 January 9-16 – A media group of 12 representatives from 6 countries (Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 January 22 – The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation announces its one-week-long visit to China. This is presumably the visit on which the later OIC resolution is based.

➤ 2019 January 25-31 – A media delegation from Egypt visits Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 February 16-19 – Senior diplomats from the permanent missions of eight countries to the United Nations Office at Geneva visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 February 22-27 – A group of 11 journalists from Indonesia and Malaysia, as part of the ASEAN Elites China Tour 2019, visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 February 25-27 – Around 200 representatives of 50 political parties from nearly 30 countries visit Urumqi Xinjiang for a meeting aimed at showcasing China’s ethnic policy in Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 February 28-March 2 – Diplomats from Myanmar, Algeria, Morocco, Vietnam, Hungary, Greece, Singapore and the mission of the League of Arab States visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 March 1-2 – 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Resolutions on Muslim Communities and Muslim Minorities in the Non-OIC Member States (OIC/CFM-46/2019/MM/RES/FINAL), ¶20 of Resolution No.1/46-MM [pg.5] (“… commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens…”).

➤ 2019 March 18 – China releases the white paper “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang.” A transfer employment program for 100,000 people was mentioned and would presumably be the object of consternation in the ASPI report of March 2020 alleging slavery.

  • CGTN summary with some infographics

➤ 2019 March 25 – The European Union rejects China’s offer of Xinjiang tour, but says it is open to one later. The EU would sit on its rain check for 539 days before once again demanding “independent” investigations into Xinjiang on September 14, 2020, despite the nearly 1,000 personnel from diplomatic, media, and academic circles who were invited to visit Xinjiang in 2019. 

➤ 2019 March 27-29 – Milan Bacevic, Serbian Ambassador to China, and Selim Belortaja, Albanian Ambassador to China, visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 May 7 – NPR releases its report on its visit to a vocational center.

➤ 2019 May 10 – Val Thompson, founder and publisher of International Focus Magazine – Houston, writes on his experiences visiting Xinjiang. He states that in his group of media visitors were journalists from “Afghanistan, Egypt, Belgium, Bangladesh, Belarus, Jordan, Japan, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia, UAE, USA, Switzerland, and a Geneva Delegation.”

➤ 2019 June 15 – Under Secretary-General of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office Vladimir Voronkov visits Xinjiang and reaches a “broad consensus” with China on the issue of counter-terrorism.

➤ 2019 June 18 – BBC’s visit to a vocational center.

➤ 2019 June 18-21 – Diplomats from 14 countries (including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Laos, Malaysia, Nigeria, Serbia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Togo) and a representative from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation based in Geneva visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 July 1 – Hong Kong protestors storm and vandalize the Legislative Council. It would appear that Western media would spend most of the remaining summer fixated on Hong Kong.

➤ 2019 July 8, 12 – 41st Session of the Human Rights Council. Two joint letters took opposing views of China’s conduct in Xinjiang.

  • A/HRC/41/G/11 [criticizing] – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom [22]
  • A/HRC/41/G/17 [supporting] – Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Congo (Republic of), Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Kuwait, Laos, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Palestine [50]

➤ 2019 July 12 – Adrian Zenz pushes the “forced labor” angle with his paper, “Beyond the Camps: Beijing’s Grand Scheme of Forced Labor, Poverty Alleviation and Social Control in Xinjiang,” which would not get peer-reviewed until its publication in the Journal of Political Risk (a journal with a long history of involvement with U.S. military and intelligence) on December 10, 2019. Zenz relies on scaremongering about China’s poverty alleviation programs and pair assistance programs (whereby a richer province gives monetary and other material aid to poorer provinces, manifesting in factories or educational support) to draw foregone conclusions of forced labor. One such poverty alleviation workshop mentioned in Zenz’s report can be seen in this vlogger’s video.

➤ 2019 July 14-22 – Journalists from 24 countries including India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, and Uzbekistan visit Xinjiang.

  • One of the journalists on this trip was Tunç Akkoç, General Manager of Turkey’s Aydınlık Daily (newspaper of Turkey’s Vatan Partisi). His report published on Xinhua is as follows. (2019-8-11)
  • Aydınlık Daily and Vatan Partisi have since rebuked the United States’ position in the controversy (Aydınlık 2020-2-21, Vatan Partisi’s statement reported in Aydınlık 2020-9-10 [Turkish language]).

➤ 2019 July 21 – China releases the white paper “Historical Matters Concerning Xinjiang.”

➤ 2019 August 17 – China releases the white paper “Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang” (this is the white paper that states that “No terrorist incidents have occurred in Xinjiang for nearly three years since the education and training started.”). 

➤ 2019 August 17-23 – A media group from 16 countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 August 19-21 – Diplomats from Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and Nigeria visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 August 28-September 1 – Diplomats from Yemen, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 August 29 – ABC’s visit to the vocational centers.

➤ 2019 September 9-12 – Diplomats from 16 African countries (including Burundi, Djibouti, Uganda, Lesotho, Sudan and Zimbabwe) and the African Union visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 October 17 – Amy K. Lehr & Mariefaye Bechrakis from Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) publish “Connecting the Dots in Xinjiang: Forced Labor, Forced Assimilation, and Western Supply Chains.” Noticeably, in the interceding 10 months since the Hetian Taida Apparel report, the researchers do not have another “‘smoking gun’ for forced labor in Xinjiang,” and are left with witness testimonies and Zenzian logic that vocational training and rural poverty alleviation carries “a significant risk that in many cases the detainees and rural poor are not participating by choice,” without anything to back up that assertion.

  • Global Times 10/25 rebuttal

➤ 2019 October 29 – 74th Session of the General Assembly (A/C.3/74/SR.37).

  • Total 24 countries and the European Union criticized China’s position on Xinjiang
    • ¶41 – United Kingdom joint statement on behalf of itself, Albania, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, United States
    • Represented in joint statement and criticized in individual capacity: United States (¶43)
    • Criticized in individual capacity: European Union (¶58), Turkey (¶45)
  • Total 57 countries supported China’s position on Xinjiang
    • ¶40 – Belarus joint statement on behalf of itself, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Congo (Republic of), Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Laos, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Togo, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Palestine
    • Represented in joint statement and supported in individual capacity: Bolivia (¶56), Burundi (¶52), Cambodia (¶49), Cameroon (¶48), China (¶66), Cuba (¶53), Congo (Republic of) (¶77), Equatorial Guinea (¶60), Guinea (¶70), Laos (¶76), Myanmar (¶61), Nicaragua (¶64), Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of) (¶73), Pakistan (¶68), Syria (¶55), Zimbabwe (¶57)
    • Supported in individual capacity: Ethiopia (¶72), Kyrgyzstan (¶59), Saudi Arabia (¶75 – note: qualified support)

➤ 2019 November – Sometime in November, Former Deputy Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives Fahri Hamzah led a delegation to visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2019 November 11 – World Bank releases a statement regarding its visit to Xinjiang concerning the vocational centers, finding no aberrations.

➤ 2019 November 16 – New York Times publishes a story about “leaked documents” concerning Xinjiang. These documents had strange grammatical errors and have been disavowed as false.

➤ 2019 December 5 – CGTN releases two specials about terrorism in Xinjiang, with footage never released to the public before, including footage of the above-mentioned attacks. They were made available to YouTube on December 11th. 

➤ 2019 December 9 – Xinhua reports that students “participating in education and training programs of standard spoken and written Chinese, understanding of the law, vocational skills and deradicalization at vocational education and training centers” have all graduated.

By the end of 2019 – 

  • Nearly 1,000 personnel from diplomatic, media, and academic circles were invited to visit Xinjiang in 2019. 
  • Xinjiang received more than 200 million tourists in 2019, up 41.6% from 2018’s 150 million.
  • From 2014 to 2019, nearly 2,923,200 residents of Xinjiang constituting 737,000 households were lifted out of poverty, dropping the poverty rate from 2013’s 19.4% to 1.24%. (original Chinese editorial, English summary) 645,000 were lifted out of poverty in 2019 alone. Xinjiang must still lift another 165,000 people out of poverty to meet China’s 2020 goals for poverty alleviation. (see CGTN report)

iii. U.S. Pursues Unilateral Action (Jan 2020-present)

➤ 2020 January 23 – Having confirmed human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 in tandem with the World Health Organization, China locks down Wuhan City and later the entire Hubei Province. While still pushing the Xinjiang issue, Western media became fixated on the pandemic response, seizing on human suffering to push a political and often racist agenda.

➤ 2020 February – Adrian Zenz publishes a report about the “Karakax List” in the Journal of Political Risk, supposedly a leaked document from 2017 provided by the Uyghur Human Rights Project proving collection of information about 3,000 Uyghurs and detention of 311 of them in Karakax (Moyu) County.

➤ 2020 March 1 – ASPI publishes “Uyghurs for sale,” a report alleging forced labor (and, notably, “slavery”) of Uyghur people around China. This seems to be scrutinizing the transfer employment program from an earlier Chinese white paper. It also builds on the material previously pushed by Adrian Zenz and CSIS. 

  • 2020 March 26 Grayzone rebuttal by Ajit Singh. Global Times 3/1, 3/16 rebuttals.

➤ 2020 April 4 – China holds a national mourning ceremony for the victims and first responders of COVID-19. China’s ability to contain COVID comes in sharp contrast to the United States, which declared a state of emergency on March 13th and has since watched its situation worsen significantly. The United States accelerates escalation of tensions with China.

➤ 2020 June 17 – President Trump signs the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act into law, ending a process started after it was first passed as a bill by the Senate on September 11, 2019.

➤ 2020 June 18 – CGTN releases another special about terrorism in Xinjiang, Tianshan: Still Standing

➤ 2020 June 29 – Adrian Zenz publishes a report alleging mass sterilization of Uyghur people through the Jamestown Foundation. This report has a blatant mathematical error

➤ 2020 July – 44th UN Human Rights Council meeting, in which two joint statements took opposing sides as to China’s conduct in Xinjiang

  • [criticizing] (2020-6-30) – United Kingdom on behalf of itself, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland [27]
  • [supporting] (2020-7-1) – Belarus on behalf of itself, Bahrain, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, China, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of), Laos, Lesotho, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe [46]
  • The criticizing statement also attacked China’s sovereignty on Hong Kong, leading to a same-day joint statement on Hong Kong made by Cuba on behalf of 53 countries.

2020 July 6 – The Washington Post editorial board publishes the opinion piece, “What’s happening in Xinjiang is genocide,” marking the rapid escalation of allegations. The opinion references “new evidence” of forced sterilizations, but cites only Adrian Zenz’s June 2020 report for the Jamestown Foundation and an Associated Press “investigative report” which similarly relies on Zenz’s research.

➤ 2020 July 16 – An Urumqi resident is found to be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 (Chinese source), leading to an identified COVID-19 cluster in Urumqi, Xinjiang, which had until then seen minimal cases since January 25. However, China’s efforts to combat COVID in Xinjiang go largely unreported.

  • As an aside, photos from February 19, 2020 show doctors, police, and border guards on horseback on snowy Kurte (Ku’erte) Plains (near the border with Mongolia), Fuyun County, Altay Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (Business Insider and People’s Daily Wechat Post). This demonstrates the extent of China’s COVID response, as officials made sure every person was provided for, in this case agro-pastoral citizens in border regions. 

➤ 2020 July 24 – In response to the United States ordering the Chinese Consulate in Houston to close, China ordered the United States Consulate in Chengdu to close. Radio Free Asia among others speculated that this would stymie United States intelligence gathering on Xinjiang.

➤ 2020 July 30 – Amy K. Lehr of CSIS publishes a brief “Addressing Forced Labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Toward a Shared Agenda.” Particularly noticeable about this brief is its emphasis on the XPCC, with assertions cited backed up by sources from Radio Free Asia, Uyghur Human Rights Project, and Citizen Power Initiatives for China (an otherwise opaque organization based in Brookline, Massachusetts founded by Yang Jianli, a self-described “Tiananmen survivor”). Footnote 33 cites Bao Yajun’s article on the XPCC but misrepresents the source, which does not mention labor camps as Lehr asserts.

➤ 2020 July 31 – The United States imposes Global Magnitsky sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps over accusations that it is connected to human rights abuses against minorities in Xinjiang. The sanctions include Chen Quanguo, the first Politburo member to be sanctioned by the United States. 

➤ 2020 July 30 and August 7 – Coda Story—a self-described counterweight to Russian and Chinese “disinformation” funded by the U.S. and EU—runs two pieces seeking to undermine The Grayzone, Jerry Grey, and Carl Zha, some of the few Western sources to contradict the mainstream media narrative on Xinjiang. 

  • The Grayzone’s rebuttal by Ben Norton (8/18).

➤ 2020 August 15-16Carl Zha and Daniel Dumbrill both release interviews held with Arslan Hidayat, an activist noted for spreading many lies about Xinjiang by faking captions and taking Douyin and other videos out of context on social media (see this Twitter thread, which also exposes similar lies made by CJ Werlemen, who would shortly afterwards write an article alleging 9 million incarcerated in Xinjiang). Among other happenings, Hidayat admits to putting fake captions on videos he posts as well as to having no hard evidence for his claims, instead relying on mainstream media and “scholars” like Adrian Zenz. Hidayat also displays a seeming ignorance of the general contours of Xinjiang history and its people.

➤ 2020 August 17 – Radio Free Asia reports that Xinjiang hospital kills babies, relying on witnesses and Adrian Zenz’s mathematically suspect June 29 report.

➤ 2020 August 24 – CJ Werlemen at Byline Times reports “evidence that up to nine million Uyghurs are unaccounted for and allegations Chinese authorities plan to kill, incarcerate or convert the whole population.” His only source is Dr. Erkin Sidick, President of the Uyghur Projects Foundation and senior advisor to the World Uyghur Congress, who left China in the late 1980s and whose own sources are ever reliable anonymous Chinese government sources. The report also cites Zenz’s mathematically suspect June 29, 2020 report and the NYT’s November 16, 2019 grammatically wanting “leaks” to back up Dr. Sidick’s otherwise baseless allegations. Near the end of the article, Dr. Sidick decides to liberally tamper with the statistics to prove his own foregone conclusions.

➤ 2020 August 25 – CGTN releases a new documentary collecting the experiences of students of the vocational centers, Lies and truth: Vocational education and training in Xinjiang.

➤ 2020 August 27 – Buzzfeed, backed by ASPI and Open Technology Fund (part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which runs Radio Free Asia, and a key supporter of 2019 Hong Kong riots) among others, pushes a two-part report relying satellite imagery, blanked-out images on Baidu Maps which are otherwise common occurrences, and witness testimony to further the Western narrative on Xinjiang. One such “camp” is in actuality an apartment complex with a five-star rating.

➤ 2020 September 2 – After about a month and a half, the COVID-19 cluster in Xinjiang is contained and Urumqi’s lockdown is lifted.

➤ 2020 September 9 – The U.S. State Department creates a new page just for propagandizing “CCP”’s atrocities in Xinjiang, in addition to releasing a short condemnatory video. Neither add anything new. The webpage relies on “recent, documented evidence” for “forced population control,” presumably Adrian Zenz’s mathematically suspect June 29 report; “NGO estimates and media reports” for “forced labor,” presumably ASPI’s and CSIS’ scare pieces; and unsubstantiated nonsense such as “CCP target[ing]… Uyghur language and Uyghur music.”

➤ 2020 September 14 – The United States restricts cotton and apparel imports from Xinjiang, citing “forced labor.” Both cotton and apparel industries are important to poverty alleviation and economic development in Xinjiang.

➤ 2020 September 15 – China agrees to and will arrange for European Union diplomats in China to visit Xinjiang.

➤ 2020 September 17 – China releases the white paper “Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang.” Some actors have twisted the white paper’s statistics (“Every year from 2014 to 2019 Xinjiang provided training sessions to an average of 1.29 million urban and rural workers, of which 451,400 were in southern Xinjiang”) to allege that China admitted to interning “8 million” into camps (presumably 1.29 x 6 = 7.74 for the headlining “8 million”). It bears repeating that this figure includes normal vocational education as well as those educated in institutions funded by the 2015 World Bank project. To date, the Chinese government has not released a figure on the number of people who have undergone vocational education as part of its de-radicalization program.

  • The relevant statistics in the original Chinese reads as follow: 据统计,2014年至2019年,全疆年均培训城乡各类劳动者128.8万人次,其中,南疆地区年均培训45.14万人次。

2020 September 22 – The U.S. Congress passes the “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act,” authorizing sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and any other Xinjiang entity as determined by the discretion of the Department of Commerce. It expressly targets China’s poverty alleviation and pair-assistance programs designed to develop Xinjiang and bring residents out of absolute poverty. For more about the genocidal impact of U.S. sanctions as a form of economic warfare primarily targeting civilians, see Robin Davis, Onyesonwu Chatoyer, & Nancy Wright, “Sanctions Kill: The Devastating Human Cost of Sanctions,” Hood Communist (blog), March 26, 2020.

2020 September 23 – ASPI launches a “Xinjiang Data Project” (reportedly mapping “380 sites of suspected re-education camps, detention centres and prisons that have been built or expanded since 2017”) with an accompanying report on “Cultural erasure.” The former in particular has been heavily criticized online for designating common schools and offices as concentration camps and listing the renovated Keriya Aitika Mosque as demolished.


c. On the Nature of Unsubstantiated Allegations

The World Uyghur Congress began conducting activism based on the allegation of Xinjiang “concentration camps” in August 2017, four months after the promulgation of the Xinjiang De-radicalization Regulations. The controversy entered mainstream Western discourse a year later in August 2018 with Gay McDougall’s unsubstantiated claims at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. 

In the interceding time, claims of concentration camps, cultural genocide, demographic genocide, slavery, and mass sterilization have saturated media and political discourse. The evidentiary weakness of these rapidly escalating claims is evinced by the shifting numbers of alleged detainees, which has ebbed and flowed from 120,000 on the low end to up to 9 million out of a Uyghur population of roughly 12 million (2019).

While Western media often paints Xinjiang as a black box, Xinjiang has in fact never been closed or restricted to outside visitors until the outbreak of COVID-19 in January 2020 (unlike Tibet Autonomous Region, which requires most foreigners to acquire special permits to visit). Indeed despite the nearly 1,000 visits by outside observers and 200 million tourists to Xinjiang in 2019, no convincing photo or video evidence has emerged of supposed genocide in Xinjiang, much less the complete absence of any recent refugee crisis originating from Xinjiang.

Photos and videos fallaciously used to prove, show, or insinuate either concentration camps or slave labor of Xinjiang people include:

It is clear that the burden of evidence for disproving allegations of slavery and genocide in Xinjiang has been set far higher than the burden of evidence for lodging these allegations in the first place. With the popular imagination saturated with images of alleged atrocities, it is difficult to argue for any course of U.S. action other than sanctions, isolation, and intervention. Such is the nature, by intent, of atrocity propaganda as it has been wielded to justify U.S. imperial adventurism. If nothing else, the context and evidence provided in this timeline should make clear that spurious claims based on weak evidence have been wielded unilaterally by the U.S. and its allies to spurn China despite broad international approval for Chinese policy in Xinjiang.


3. Resources

a. Overview

These readings are general overviews of Xinjiang in general and the current controversy in particular. They can act as effective one-stop resources for those seeking a quick summary.  

Ang, Matthias & Wong, Kayla. “Different media report differently on controversial Xinjiang re-education camps in China. Read them all.”, Mothership, July 21, 2019.

  • Ang and Wong offer an even-handed survey of the biases and conflicting diagnoses of different news reports on the Xinjiang controversy. The authors don’t try to take a side but advocate seeking a diversity of sources. 

Kanthan, Chris. “Xinjiang and Uyghurs – What You’re Not Being Told,” World Affairs Blog (blog).

  • A quick collection of facts about key cultural, historical, and political aspects of Xinjiang.

Notes on China-Uighur Controversies: An Ever Increasing Collection of Notes, Links, Sources, & Observations

  • A well-sourced and extensive ongoing Google Document written by a leftist in critical evaluation of the Xinjiang controversy.

Singh, Ajit & Max Blumenthal. “China detaining millions of Uyghurs? Serious problems with claims by US-backed NGO and far-reach researcher ‘led by God’ against Beijing.” The Grayzone. December 21, 2019.

  • A rather thorough examination of the handful of sources from which claims of ‘millions’ in concentration camps has been uncritically adopted by mainstream media. The argument focuses on the personal records and financial ties of frequently-cited ‘experts’ such as Adrian Zenz. 

Zhao, He. “Xinjiang: Facts vs. Fiction.” Medium. November 16, 2019.

  • This is perhaps the quickest yet comprehensive read on Xinjiang generally and the current controversy in particular. 

b. Chinese Perspectives on the Problem of Terrorism

These sources document the scope and extent of the recent history of terrorism in China, which received little attention in the Western press. These sources also highlight official Chinese perspectives on how to resolve the problem as peacefully as possible. China’s stated policies of economic development and poverty alleviation are key pathways towards improving social stability and tackling some of the root causes that foment violence—an approach that stands in stark contrast to the tactics employed during the U.S. so-called “War on Terror.” 

It is important to note that Western reports and figures have failed to differentiate between generalized vocational education in Xinjiang—which is an aspect of poverty alleviation programs throughout China—and vocational education as part of targeted de-radicalization programs.

CGTN. “Fighting terrorism in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 50:01. December 11, 2019.

  • CW: Violence. This documentary in particular is notable for releasing previously unreleased footage of terrorist attacks as well as extensive interviews with a wide variety of people including victims, former terrorists, religious authorities, locals, and police. [some of the interviewees speak in Uyghur]

CGTN. “The Black Hand – ETIM and Terrorism in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 29:06. December 11, 2019.

  • CW: Violence. This documentary shares some footage with the above, but otherwise is a shorter film focused more on the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM/TIP), its links to al- Qaeda, and the international nature of the threat it poses. [some of the interviewees speak in Uyghur]

CGTN. “Tianshan: Still Standing – Memories of fighting terrorism in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 57:52. June 18, 2020.

  • CW: Violence. This documentary revisits the lingering impacts of terrorism in today’s Xinjiang. Some highlights include the revisiting of Dilqemer’s story from the “Fighting terrorism” documentary; new interviews with police and locals such as Memet Jume, son of former Id Kah imam Jume Tahir assassinated in 2014, and Muhpira Rahman, a female People’s Armed Police member; and exclusive looks at Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County and the Chinese-Afghan border. [some of the interviewees speak in Uyghur; the interviewee Memetrehim Ibrahim speaks in Sarikoli] 

CGTN. “Lies and truth: Vocational education and training in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 35:08. August 25, 2020.

  • CW: Violence. This documentary focuses on vocational centers and their students. There is some overlap with the “Embracing a New Life” mini-series (see below), particularly in the stories of the painter Ablizkari Ubul and dancer Aqida Arslan. Has a short section near the end containing comments by international observers to Xinjiang. [some of the interviewees speak in Uyghur]

Why are western media silent on China’s documentaries on Xinjiang?CGTN. December 9, 2019. (Based on Tong, Li. “CGTN发“大尺度”新疆反恐纪录片,西方媒体却沉默了.” Guancha. December 9, 2019.)

  • From a Chinese perspective, this article questions why Western voices which claim to value human rights have not paid heed to issues of violence and terrorism directed against civilians in Xinjiang and beyond. 

Joint Letter to Mike Pompeo, From Scholars and Religious Personnel in Xinjiang.” Tianshan Net. July 19, 2019.

  • A letter from about 100 scholars and religious personnel in Xinjiang rebuking comments made by Secretary Pompeo.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang. 2019. 

  • A white paper concerning the broader strategy against terrorism undertaken in Xinjiang.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang. 2019.

  • A white paper focusing specifically on the vocational centers and their operations.

Sha, Yuan. “China’s contribution to the international counter-terrorism cause.” CGTN. September 26, 2019.

  • Paraphrasing remarks made by Wang Yi at the UN – clearly identifying poverty as a root cause of terrorism.

Ed. Xiang, Bo. “Full transcript: Interview with Xinjiang government chief on counterterrorism, vocational education and training in Xinjiang.” Xinhua. October 16, 2018. 

  • Xinhua interview with Shohrat Zakir, Chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, concerning the roots of terrorism, poverty alleviation and education as solution, and the vocational centers.

c. Geopolitical Context

These sources place the current controversy in light of geopolitical interests. In particular, the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive Chinese-led multi-national infrastructure project that has drawn ire as a threat to U.S. unipolarity, runs through Xinjiang as a strategic region connecting China to North and West Asia.

While the U.S. has long recognized that its naval supremacy in the South China Sea could effectively “strangle” China’s economy in the event of hot war, Xinjiang in particular and the Belt and Road Initiative in general provide an overland route for Chinese trade which undermines U.S. military supremacy. As such, these sources contextualize the Xinjiang controversy amidst broader U.S. efforts to contain and isolate China.

Al-Ghadhawi, Abdullah. “Uighur Jihadists in Syria.” Center for Global Policy. March 18, 2020.

  • A short article about the circumstances surrounding ethnic Uyghur fighters in Syria.

Azam, Azhar. “BRI is instrumental to realizing ‘no poverty’ vision.” CGTN. October 18, 2019.

  • A short article making clear BRI’s role in Xinjiang’s poverty alleviation as well as its potential for poverty alleviation in other countries.

Bhadrakumar, M.K. “US lacerates China’s Uighur wound.” Indian Punchline (blog). March 28, 2019.

  • Indian Punchline is a blog run by M.K. Bhadrakumar, a retired career diplomat of India. This blogpost—slightly dated now given the evolution of the controversy—properly examines the Xinjiang controversy in the U.S.’s strategic calculus.

Fuller, Graham E. & S. Frederick Starr. “The Xinjiang Problem.” Central Asia-Caucasus Institute. 2003.

  • An interesting dated report on the then situation in Xinjiang, written by a former Vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council and CIA Station Chief in Kabul. Not only a primer on some of the longer-term background of the issue through the lenses of the United States (and a light on the severity of the terrorism issue), but also a window into a prior time in which a prominent United States thinker urged cooperation with China to defeat terrorism and to avoid over-politicizing the issue in the hopes of greater global stability. 

Gunaratna, Rohan. “Salafism in China and its Jihadist-Takfiri strains.” Al Mesbar Studies & Research Center. January 18, 2018.

  • A short report on Salafism in China and the connection of some of its more extremist strands to terrorist activities over time.

Novák, Izak. “The War on China.” Izak Novák (blog). April 17, 2020.

  • A general overview essay about the longstanding decades-long strategy of the United States against China. Importantly, it discusses the Belt and Road Initiative as a strategy to break out of U.S. encirclement, hegemonism, and imperialism, and Xinjiang’s central importance to the BRI.

Prashad, Vijay. “Trade and tensions between the U.S. and China.” Monthly Review. August 3, 2020.

  • Only a small part of this article is about Xinjiang, but it places the Western fixation on it into proper context in advancing Western “political and commercial ends.”

Ron Paul Liberty Report. “‘What is the Empire’s Strategy?’ – Col. Lawrence Wilkerson Speech at Ron Paul Institute Media & War Conference.” YouTube video, 26:10. August 22, 2018. 

  • One former U.S. military official’s insider perspective as to why the United States is in Afghanistan. He asserts it “has nothing to do with fighting terrorism” and more to do with establishing military control over a territory of strategic interest to Chinese trade routes. Time stamp starting at 20:55 is included in the link. 

d. Poverty Alleviation and Economic Development in Xinjiang

These sources describe a small slice of Xinjiang’s poverty alleviation efforts and economic development initiatives, while exploring the real and concrete impacts these programs have on the lives of ordinary people.

Animal husbandry helping to drive up incomes.” CGTN. May 7, 2020.

China’s Xinjiang generates 260 bln kWh clean electricity.” Xinhua. August 8, 2020.

  • Xinjiang is quickly becoming a hub for green energy production and distribution. This short note and video offers a small glimpse into the greening of Xinjiang and China.

E-commerce development boosts farm produce sales.” CGTN. May 6, 2020.

Voices from the Frontline: China’s War on Poverty. Film. Directed by Peter Getzels. The Kuhn Foundation & PBS Socal, 2020. [available here]

  • A documentary hosted by Robert Lawrence Kuhn offering an insightful look into the war against absolute poverty. The documentary not only provides an on-the-ground look at the procedures and effects of poverty alleviation efforts as well as their often imperfect executions, but also shine a light on the workings of the Communist Party of China, including mobilization, promotion, corruption, monitoring, and discipline. Kuhn travels to Hainan, Gansu, Guizhou, Xinjiang, and Sichuan, gaining a rare and balanced insight into Chinese society and policies. Ironically, some of the entities involved in poverty alleviation in Xinjiang, such as the one highlighted by the documentary, are the very entities being sanctioned and boycotted by U.S. legislation and private brands such as H&M. [the interviewees speak in a wide variety of local dialects and accents; the Xinjiang interviewees except for Murzabek Tapi speak in Kazakh]
  • First aired on May 11 and 12 of 2020, and despite its award-winning status, the documentary was quickly taken down barely a week after release on May 20, citing “editorial standards.” Kuhn called it “a shame” that PBS removed his film from its platform due to “extraneous internal political matters in the United States.”

Jie, Shan. “Xinjiang scores victories in the war on poverty.” Global Times. December 18, 2019.

  • A very short and succinct article with small snippets of human stories concerning poverty alleviation in Xinjiang.

Labor transfer program boosts employment.” CGTN. May 8, 2020.

Localized factories lift Xinjiang locals out of poverty.” CGTN. May 8, 2020.

Lu, Yin & Zhang Xinyuan. “Xinjiang’s millennial entrepreneurs make the most of the Internet age.” Global Times. July 4, 2016.

  • An older article from 2016 about new Xinjiang entrepreneurs harnessing both the power of the internet and the increasing interconnectivity of Xinjiang to the world via the Belt and Road Initiative.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Employment and Labor Rights in Xinjiang. 2020.

  • This white paper provides an overview of the employment and labor in Xinjiang, providing statistics, giving personal anecdotes, and highlighting labor laws and the efforts being made to improve them, in the context of poverty alleviation programs.

Trans-regional job offers help Xinjiang farmers shake off poverty.” CGTN. May 3, 2020.

Villagers get access to clean water as projects continue.” CGTN. May 2, 2020.

Wellness of people in remote areas safeguarded.” CGTN. May 4, 2020.

Ed. Yang, Yi. “China highlights support to Xinjiang through pairing assistance.” Xinhua. July 16, 2019.

  • Pairing assistance is a common practice in the People’s Republic whereas richer provinces and localities directly send aid, expertise, and cadres to poorer provinces and localities in order to help them develop. This is a short article about the visit of a senior Party official Wang Yang to Xinjiang and the re-emphasizing of this program. 

e. Overview of Chinese Minority/Religious Policies

These sources provide a quick overview of China’s policies towards minority nationalities and religion, with some focus on efforts with relevance to Xinjiang and Islam. 

Beech, Hannah. “If China is Anti-Islam, Why are These Chinese Muslims Enjoying a Faith Revival?Time. August 12, 2014.

  • A relatively honest Western media attempt to look at Islam in China before the current 2018 controversy. The author notes that thriving Hui Muslim communities in China have also been targeted by terrorist attacks.

CCTV. “Students’ Daily Life [sic] at Xinjiang Islamic Institute in Northwest China.” YouTube video, 2:19. June 19, 2016.

  • This is a short video showing daily life at an Islamic educational institute in China.

Kasim, Muhabbat (Muhabaiti Hasimu). “新世纪新疆双语教学:七大变化,三点建议.” China Minzu Cultural Resources. September 20, 2018. (reprinted from Zhongguo Minzu Bao (China Ethnic News), August 13, 2010, 6)

  • A Uyghur scholar of bilingual education and Turkic languages reflects on the changing situation of bilingual education in Xinjiang, noticing seven changes from her personal experience and leaving three recommendations for the future. Of particular note, it was not until the recent decade that Chinese language was taught to minority children starting in the first grade (previously it started in the fourth grade). [Chinese language]

Li, Qian. “Chinese government goes to great lengths to help Muslims go on the hajj.” Global Times. August 14, 2017.

  • Documents Chinese state programs to offer support for those who want to go on hajj pilgrimage.

Lim, Louisa. “Female Imams Blaze Trail Among China’s Muslims.” NPR. July 21, 2010. 

  • Documents the unique Chinese Muslim tradition of women-led mosques. The article ends with a curious line: “And so it appears the future of female imams in China is threatened — not by the state, not by resistance from inside Islam, but by the forces of market economics.” This seems to reflect the shifting and inconsistent media agenda on China: from ‘ruthlessly capitalist’ forces stymying Chinese state efforts to preserve minority cultures and religious practices to godless Communist entity seeking to wipe out Islam.

Liu, Xin. “Xinjiang Muslims welcome govt’s efforts on hajj journeys.” Global Times. August 2, 2019.

  • A more recent article detailing the governmental measures offering support for rural Xinjiang Muslims who wish to go on hajj pilgrimage.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. National Minorities Policy and Its Practice in China. 1999. 

  • Although dated, many of the policies described in this paper are still in effect today.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. China’s Ethnic Policy and Common Prosperity and Development of All Ethnic Groups. 2009.

  • Like the above, a dry read, but full of data that demonstrates the efforts of the government in minority policies – Qiao recommends drawing attention to the passages in the white paper addressing tax exemption programs (Section V), minority languages, and intangible heritage (Section VI).

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang. 2016.

  • A white paper devoted to the progress of ensuring religious freedom in Xinjiang, although written shortly before the controversial 2017 de-radicalization regulations.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Cultural Protection and Development in Xinjiang. 2018.

  • A white paper devoted specifically to cultural policies in Xinjiang, with special considerations for the minority nationalities of Xinjiang.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China. 2019. 

  • A more recent white paper about China’s progress on human rights issues. Section V is devoted to minority policies.

Why does China have women-only mosques.” BBC. February 23, 2016. 

  • An article which shows that as late as 2016, there was some attempt by the West to understand Islam in China on its own terms, even by the world’s largest “public broadcasting company.”

Zhang, Hui. “China bans anti-Islam words on social media.” Global Times. September 21, 2017. 

  • China’s infamous censoring apparatus actively tries to censor Islamophobic hate speech on social media.

新疆维吾尔自治区计划2020年全面普及双语教育.” Zhongguo Zhengfu Wang. October 6, 2010. 

  • A simple news report from 2010 that explains the plans of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to have widespread bilingual education in the autonomous region by 2020. [Chinese language]

新疆维吾尔自治区人口与计划生育条例 [Xinjiang Population and Family Planning Regulations] (promulgated by the People’s Congress of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, November 28, 2002) (made available on the website of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Health & Hygiene Commission) (current law, rev’d July 28, 2017) (previous version, rev’d June 3, 2010, available on the website 51labour)

  • This is the statute currently governing Xinjiang’s family planning. Particular attention should be placed on the general rule articulated in Article 15, pre and post-2017: [Chinese language]
    • Pre-2017: Couples of urban Han residents can have one child, and couples of ethnic minority residents can have two children. Couples of Han farmers and herdsmen can have two children, and couples of ethnic farmers and herdsmen can have three children.
    • Post-2017: Couples of urban residents can have two children, and couples of rural residents can have three children.

f. The Misinformation Industrial Complex

These sources provide some general context as to the bias and agenda of Western non-state actors, particularly mainstream media and NGOs, which often act in concert with Western imperialist state agendas rather than a check on them. 

In particular, these sources highlight the historic uses of “atrocity propaganda,” through which the U.S. has galvanized public opinion for war and intervention through misrepresentations and outright lies vis-a-vis ‘humanitarian concerns.’ In particular, the wars in Iraq and intervention in Syria provide a historical warning for how mainstream media and research institutes amplify State Department ambitions. 

Bruton, F. Brinley & Tony Brown. “U.S. targets Chinese Uighur militants as well as Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.” NBC News. February 8, 2018.

  • Addresses U.S. aerial bombing campaigns in Afghanistan, painting the U.S. bombing of ethnic Uyghur terrorist camps in Afghanistan as good, even natural. At the same time, the article paints these same actors as repressed freedom fighters in China’s domestic context—clear instances of double standards that speak to U.S. geopolitical interests in the region.  

Butt, Ahsan I. “Why did Bush go to war with Iraq?Al Jazeera. March 19, 2019. 

  • One more exploration of the now infamous lies that built consensus for American intervention in Iraq, a war that has directly led to a disastrous humanitarian crisis.

Fisk, Robert. “Bashar al-Assad, Syria, and the truth about chemical weapons.” Independent. December 8, 2012.

  • An article about the history of Western allegations of atrocities committed in the Middle East in the leadup to war and intervention.

Ignatius, David. “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups.” The Washington Post. September 22, 1991.

  • This article quotes from the horse’s mouth the role of the National Endowment for Democracy as the “sugar daddy of overt operations” for State Department anti-communist and regime change agendas. The admission of NED intent to undermine ‘enemy nations’ should call into serious question why the NED funds groups as diverse as the World Uyghur Congress to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.  

McIntyre, Jamie. “Meet ETIM, the terrorist group the US just bombed in Afghanistan.” Washington Examiner. February 10, 2018.

  • This article from the right-wing Washington Examiner cites Pentagon officials designating the East Turkistan Islamic Movementas a terrorist group of security concern to U.S. ambitions in the Middle East—a label which speaks to the double standard of Western media when it comes to ETIM/TIP as a threat to U.S. interests or a cudgel to be wielded against China.  

Noble Peace Laureates Slam Human Rights Watch’s Refusal to Cut Ties to U.S. Government.” Alternet. July 6, 2014.

  • An older open letter expressing concern over Human Rights Watch’s “revolving door” with the United States government, causing it to overlook the U.S.’s own abysmal human rights record and subjecting the organization to partisan politics.

Norton, Ben. “Twitter spreads paid US gov’t propaganda while falsely claiming it bans state media ads.” The Grayzone. August 10, 2020.

  • While focused on Twitter and its pushing of American governmental agenda, this article has a helpful section on the U.S. Agency for Global Media, and demonstrates clearly how the agency and its constituent platforms including Radio Free Asia are nothing more than “soft-power arm[s] of the US government,” a context that should be taken into mind when consuming its contents.

O’Neill, Brendan. “The missing people-shredder.” The Guardian. February 24, 2004. 

  • A retrospective inquiry finds the sensationalist accounts of Saddam Hussein’s “people shredder” circulated by Western media in the leadup to the Iraq war were never substantiated. 

Sinophobia Inc: Understanding the Anti-China Industrial Complex.” Qiao Collective. September 3, 2020.

  • An in-depth review of the financial ties of prominent China think tanks such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute reveals a deep conflict of interest: many such institutes are funded by Western state entities and the same weapons manufacturers now cutting record arms deals to equip the anti-China “Pivot to Asia.” Many of the aforementioned think tanks have promulgated serious allegations with regards to Xinjiang.

Singh, Ajit. “Inside the World Uyghur Congress.” The Grayzone. March 5, 2020.

  • An extensively-sourced and medium-length exploration of the World Uyghur Congress, a focal organization from which many of the other organizations advocating East Turkistan independence branches off, and its shady connections with U.S. regime changers and Turkish far-right actors.

Sheridan, Tommy. “Syria and Chemical Weapons – Secrets and Convenient Lies.” Sputnik. May 31, 2019.

  • An article outlining the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and how it was manipulated to serve consensus-building for war against Assad.

Sun, Feiyang. “Letters to the Editor: The Case of the Keriya Aitika Mosque.” CGTN. July 7, 2020.

  • This is an editorial briefly discussing the “case” of the Keriya Aitika Mosque, in which it was claimed that the mosque was demolished and insinuated that the People’s Republic was engaging in mass demolition of places of worship, but it turned out to be renovation work for the historic mosque.

The Propaganda Multiplier.” Swiss Policy Research. March 2019.

  • This article does not talk about Xinjiang, but about the general procedures of “international news coverage” and why stories appearing consistently across “major” and “respectable” news sources is not in fact a strong indicator that it is credible. The current media structure is highly susceptible to misinformation, and in fact government agencies are very involved.

Witness to War. “Former CIA Agent John Stockwell Talks about How the CIA Worked in Vietnam and Elsewhere.” YouTube video, 15:12. September 29, 2017.

  • This video is an interview of a former CIA officer (field case officer) John Stockwell, who speaks about the CIA’s close ties with the news media and journalists, the feeding of “pure raw false propaganda… creating illusions of Communists eating babies for breakfast,” and the particular process through which United States intelligence comes to shape and mold narratives around the world.

Xiong, Jack. “The Fake News in 1990 That Propelled the US into the First Gulf War.” Citizen Truth. May 7, 2018.

  • A somewhat recent article that explores the background of the “Nayirah testimony,” arguably the first instance of atrocity propaganda in the then new world order of American unilateralism. 

Zhang, Chi. “One Uighur Man’s Journey Goes Viral.” Foreign Policy. May 14, 2014.

  • An interesting look at a contemporary account of Xinjiang’s society at the height of the period between 2009 and 2014 when the problem of terrorism was particularly severe in Xinjiang. Not only does this article explore the perspective of an actual Uyghur person living in China, but this article, in tandem with other articles on this list dealing with female imams and Islamic revival in China, shows how drastically the media agenda on China has changed since 2014. This article ultimately provides an even-handed and frank look at a snapshot of Xinjiang before the current controversy of 2018. 

g. Views from Xinjiang: People, Cultures, and History

These are miscellaneous sources covering contemporary Xinjiang, Xinjiang’s diverse people and cultures, Xinjiang’s modern and ancient history, and the little-understood, even within China, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). 

Xinjiang’s Diverse People, Cultures, and Experiences

安妮古丽. “191.新疆叼羊比賽見過嗎?哈薩克族馬背上的熱血競技,現場燃爆了!YouTube video, 4:43. August 16, 2019.

  • CW: Animal harm. Anniguli is a Uyghur woman living in Xinjiang who mostly vlogs about her everyday life. Here she spectates Kazakhs participating in the sport, buzkashi. Buzkashi is a traditional Central Asian sport that often involves playing polo with a sheep carcass while on horseback. [Chinese language, some Kazakh can be heard]

安妮古丽. “新疆零下20°怎麼出門?維吾爾美女有妙招,你覺得這樣有效果嗎?YouTube video, 3:55. May 23, 2019. 

  • This is Anniguli’s most popular video to date. Here she mostly remarks on how cold it got in Urumqi. [Chinese language, some Uyghur can be heard accompanying the pedestrian crossing signal]

阿依图娜. “017南疆偏僻的一个巴扎,每天的交易量惊人!和田人都是隐形的富豪?YouTube video, 3:48. July 14, 2020.

  • Ayituna is another Uyghur woman living in Xinjiang who mostly vlogs about her everyday life. Here, in her most popular video to date, she goes to the goat market and watches its bustling business. [Chinese language]

阿依图娜. “054南疆姑娘开始臭美了!迫不及待到厂子拿新裙子,回家换上转个圈!.” YouTube video, 4:10. August 20, 2020.

  • In this video, Ayituna visits a workshop to shop for clothing. The workshop appears to be part of a poverty alleviation program, the type that Adrian Zenz scaremongered about back in July 2019. [Chinese language, Uyghur spoken in the workshop]

CCTV. “Our Stories of the Past 40 Years” Series

CCTV中国中央电视台. “[2019非遗公开课]《十二木卡姆》 表演:莎车县十二木卡姆民间艺术团.” YouTube video, 2:39. June 7, 2019.

  • Muqam is a rich Uyghur musical tradition well-known across China. It was among the first four intangible heritages registered by China to the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008, alongside Guqin, Kunqu Opera, and Mongolian Long Song (Urtiin Duu). This video is a short performance of Muqam as well as traditional Uyghur dance.

CGTN. Amazing Xinjiang Series

  • This CGTN playlist contains a number of Xinjiang-focused videos on various topics and localities, largely low-key and laidback content. 

CGTN. “Assignment Asia Episode 75: Transforming lives and building bridges in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 25:16. November 5, 2017.

  • This video from before the 2018 controversy covers many aspects of developmental work in Xinjiang, including education, labor transfer, grassroots governmental work, and living standards for people finding employment outside Xinjiang. The footage does not shy away from showing the difficulties and adjustments people in Xinjiang face as they go through changes in their lives. [Uyghur spoken in some scenes]

CGTN. “Dolan Muqam music tradition thrives among local Uygurs.” YouTube video, 4:04. August 16, 2017.

  • This video provides a quick overview of Muqam as well as over a distinct rural tradition within Muqam.

CGTN. Eid al-Fitr Series

CGTN. “Epic of Manas: The history of Kirgiz in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 1:15. May 22, 2018.

  • The Epic of Manas is a Kyrgyz epic poem traditionally passed down orally. The storytelling of Manas was registered by China in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. This video provides a quick overview of the tradition of Manas storytelling in China.

CGTN. “Looking China: Akyns song that brings happiness.” YouTube video, 9:33. January 23, 2017. 

  • This video is a collection of Akyns (song-like recitative improvisation accompanied by dombra) performed by Kazakh musician Jiahnur Ohas, overlaid by scenes of Xinjiang’s Kazakh regions. [songs are sung in Kazakh language]

CGTN. “Looking China: Xibe ethnic group in Xinjiang.” YouTube video, 11:59. Jan 22, 2017.

  • This video is a slice-of-life feature of a young Xibe girl living in Xinjiang, entirely narrated in the Xibe language, a relative of the Manchu language.

CGTN. “Modern designs revive traditional craft and industry.” YouTube video, 4:25. October 6, 2016. 

  • This serves both as an introduction to “atlas silk,” a characteristic material in traditional Central Asian clothing, as well as a short look at fashion designer Alim Adil’s hope to introduce atlas more into modern clothing. 

CGTN. “The everlasting spirit of the Kazaks on grasslands.” YouTube video, 5:04. May 22, 2019.

  • This is a look at the life of a nomadic Kazakh family, including worries and concerns for the future, displaying the still wide experiences of modern life in Xinjiang, much less China today.

CGTN. “Travelogue with Tajik people: Modern life in Xinjiang’s rocky mountains.” YouTube video, 29:19. June 27, 2016.

  • This is an older documentary of a Chinese-British diaspora CGTN host spending time in a rural Tajik village. It does a good job of showing the developmental difficulties as well as unique features of high-altitude mountain valley life. 

CHINA LIVE. “帕米尔高原上牦牛叼羊比赛 / Buzkashi with Yaks on the Chinese Pamir.” YouTube video, 2:57. March 20, 2016. 

  • CW: Animal harm. Buzkashi is a traditional Central Asian sport that often involves playing polo with a sheep carcass while on horseback. The Tajiks of Xinjiang are distinguished by their playing of buzkashi while mounted on yaks. 

Guangming Online. “Fascinating China” Series

Looking China Official Channel. “Manas 玛纳斯.” YouTube video, 9:28. August 24, 2016.

  • This video provides a more detailed look at the tradition of Manas in China and the scholarly efforts dedicated to researching the Epic of Manas further and preserving it. In particular, the role of the Manas Research Center in Xinjiang Normal University is explored.

New China TV. “Xinjiang Rediscovered” series.

  • This is a series of more mundane experiences: average residents of Xinjiang who talk about their lives, experiences, and hopes for the future.

xinjiang china.” YouTube channel.

  • This YouTube channel periodically shares videos of Xinjiang, its people and its places. Particularly recommended are:
    • A short film series called 《我的家乡更美好》, or “Better Hometown, Better Life.” It is a series interviewing several students of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine who are minority youth from Xinjiang, who talk about their experiences in Xinjiang and in university as well as go back to their hometowns to see how much they have developed. Some are only in Chinese. [Chinese source here]
    • 7 videos currently available about people who have studied at the vocational centers, as part of a series called 《拥抱新生活》or “Embracing a New Life.” [Chinese source here, although the videos on this site are now unavailable]


第一次的离别》(《تۇنجى ئايرىلىش》, A First Farewell). Film. Directed by Wang Lina. Tencent Pictures, 2020.

Xinzhao Li 李馨曌. “新疆 塔什库尔干塔吉克族 “Through The Unknown Tashkurgan”.” YouTube video, 8:28. January 3, 2020. 

  • This is a short overview of a photographer’s extended stay in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, and her experiences as the locality and its people changed and grew.

Xinjiang’s History

Dickens, Mark. “The Soviets in Xinjiang: 1911-1949.” 1990.

  • An older but excellent overview of the complexities of Soviet involvement in Xinjiang, as well as the Republican history of the region before 1949.

Grousset, René. Walford, Naomi, trans. Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1970.

  • A classic historical text on Central Asia with an emphasis on nomadic empires. It covers broader Central Asia beyond Xinjiang, but also summarizes Xinjiang history up to the Qing Dynasty’s defeat of the Khoja Uprising in 1759.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. Historical Matters Concerning Xinjiang. 2019. 

  • An official Chinese document concerning the history of Xinjiang. While it does paint in broad strokes, it provides a quick overview of the history of the region.

Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC)

Bao, Yajun (包雅钧). “The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps: An Insider’s Perspective.” Blavatnik School of Government Working Paper Series (BSG-WP-2018/023)  (2018). 

  • One of the few English-language scholarly reports—more of a summary—on the XPCC. Nonetheless, an interesting perspective from a scholar who studied the XPCC on behalf of the Central Organization Department of the CPC (Central Compilation and Translation Bureau 中央编译局) during a restive period in Xinjiang’s history.

State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. The History and Development of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. 2014. 

  • A white paper on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) that gives an overview of the XPCC, its history, and its operations. The XPCC as a sort of “government within a government” plays an important if little understood role in Xinjiang.

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

September 23, 2020

by Pepe Escobar and with permission cross-posted with Asia Times

It took one minute for President Trump to introduce a virus at the virtual 75th UN General Assembly, blasting “the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world”.

And then it all went downhill.

Even as Trump was essentially delivering a campaign speech and could not care less about the multilateral UN, at least the picture was clear enough for all the socially distant “international community” to see.

Here is President Xi’s full statement. And here is President Putin’s full statement. And here’s the geopolitical chessboard, once again; it’s the “indispensable nation” versus the Russia-China strategic partnership.

As he stressed the importance of the UN, Xi could not be more explicit that no nation has the right to control the destiny of others: “Even less should one be allowed to do whatever it likes and be the hegemon, bully, or boss of the world .”

The US ruling class obviously won’t take this act of defiance lying down. The full spectrum of Hybrid War techniques will continue to be relentlessly turbo-charged against China, coupled with rampant Sinophobia, even as it dawns on many Dr. Strangelove quarters that the only way to really “deter” China would be Hot War.

Alas, the Pentagon is overstretched – Syria, Iran, Venezuela, South China Sea. And every analyst knows about China’s cyber warfare capabilities, integrated aerial defense systems, and carrier-killer Dongfeng missiles.

For perspective, it’s always very instructive to compare military expenditure. Last year, China spent $261 billion while the US spent $732 billion (38% of the global total).

Rhetoric, at least for the moment, prevails. The key talking point, incessantly hammered, is always about China as an existential threat to the “free world”, even as the myriad declinations of what was once Obama’s “pivot to Asia” not so subtly accrue the manufacture of consent for a future war.

This report by the Qiao Collective neatly identifies the process: “We call it Sinophobia, Inc. – an information industrial complex where Western state funding, billion dollar weapons manufacturers, and right-wing think tanks coalesce and operate in sync to flood the media with messages that China is public enemy number one. Armed with state funding and weapons industry sponsors, this handful of influential think tanks are setting the terms of the New Cold War on China. The same media ecosystem that greased the wheels of perpetual war towards disastrous intervention in the Middle East is now busy manufacturing consent for conflict with China.”

That “US military edge”

The demonization of China, infused with blatant racism and rabid anti-communism, is displayed across a full, multicolored palette: Hong Kong, Xinjiang (“concentration camps), Tibet (“forced labor”), Taiwan, “China virus”; the Belt and Road’s “debt trap”.

The trade war runs in parallel – glaring evidence of how “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is beating Western capitalism at its own high-tech game. Thus the sanctioning of over 150 companies that manufacture chips for Huawei and ZTE, or the attempt to ruin TikTok’s business in the US (“But you can’t rob it and turn it into a US baby”, as Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin tweeted).

Still, SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation), China’s top chip company, which recently profited from a $7.5 billion IPO in Shanghai, sooner or later may jump ahead of US chip manufacturers.

On the military front, “maximum pressure” on China’s eastern rim proceeds unabated – from the revival of the Quad to a scramble to boost the Indo-Pacific strategy.

Think Tankland is essential in coordinating the whole process, via for instance the Center for Strategic & International Studies, with “corporation and trade association donors” featuring usual suspects such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.

So here we have what Ray McGovern brilliantly describes as MICIMATT – the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex – as the comptrollers of Sinophobia Inc.

Assuming there would be a Dem victory in November, nothing will change. The next Pentagon head will probably be Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2009-2012) and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, which is big on both the “China challenge” and the “North Korean threat”. Flournoy is all about boosting the “U.S. military’s edge” in Asia.

So what is China doing?

China’s top foreign policy principle is to advance a “community of shared future for mankind”. That is written in the constitution, and implies that Cold War 2.0 is an imposition from foreign actors.

China’s top three priorities post-Covid-19 are to finally eradicate poverty; solidify the vast domestic market; and be back in full force to trade/investment across the Global South.

China’s “existential threat” is also symbolized by the drive to implement a non-Western trade and investment system, including everything from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund to trade bypassing the US dollar.

Harvard Kennedy School report at least tried to understand how Chinese “authoritarian resilience” appeals domestically. The report found out that the CCP actually benefitted from increased popular support from 2003 to 2016, reaching an astonishing 93%, essentially due to social welfare programs and the battle against corruption.

By contrast, when we have a MICCIMAT investing in Perpetual War – or “Long War” (Pentagon terminology since 2001) – instead of health, education and infrastructure upgrading, what’s left is a classic wag the dog. Sinophobia is perfect to blame the abysmal response to Covid-19, the extinction of small businesses and the looming New Great Depression on the Chinese “existential threat”.

The whole process has nothing to do with “moral defeat” and complaining that “we risk losing the competition and endangering the world”.

The world is not “endangered” because at least vast swathes of the Global South are fully aware that the much-ballyhooed “rules-based international order” is nothing but a quite appealing euphemism for Pax Americana – or Exceptionalism. What was designed by Washington for post-WWII, the Cold War and the “unilateral moment” does not apply anymore.

Bye, bye Mackinder

As President Putin has made it very clear over and over again, the US is no longer “agreement capable” . As for the “rules-based international order”, at best is a euphemism for privately controlled financial capitalism on a global scale.

The Russia-China strategic partnership has made it very clear, over and over again, that against NATO and Quad expansion their project hinges on Eurasia-wide trade, development and diplomatic integration.

Unlike the case from the 16th century to the last decades of the 20th century, now the initiative is not coming from the West, but from East Asia (that’s the beauty of “initiative” incorporated to the BRI acronym).

Enter continental corridors and axes of development traversing Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Indian Ocean, Southwest Asia and Russia all the way to Europe, coupled with a Maritime Silk Road across the South Asian rimland.

For the very first time in its millenary history, China is able to match ultra-dynamic political and economic expansion both overland and across the seas. This reaches way beyond the short era of the Zheng He maritime expeditions during the Ming dynasty in the early 15th century.

No wonder the West, and especially the Hegemon, simply cannot comprehend the geopolitical enormity of it all. And that’s why we have so much Sinophobia, so many Hybrid War techniques deployed to snuff out the “threat”.

Eurasia, in the recent past, was either a Western colony, or a Soviet domain. Now, it stands on the verge of finally getting rid of Mackinder, Mahan and Spykman scenarios, as the heartland and the rimland progressively and inexorably integrate, on their own terms, all the way to the middle of the 21st century.

China Newsbrief & Sitrep

China Newsbrief & Sitrep

August 12, 2020

By Godfree Roberts from his newsletter

This week we focus mainly on China’s development and business.

We still see signs of an unrestricted and type of unformed war on China that is described by many names, examples cold war or, hybrid war.  The main characteristic of this war is where nothing that disrupts the enemy is off limits.

Despite an unprecedented downturn in US-China relations during a pandemic, US businesses are not leaving the China market. This was a major finding of an annual survey of members released today by the US-China Business Council (USCBC), a trade group representing more than 200 businesses, many of them global brands with decades of China experience.  

https://www.uschina.org/media/press/pandemic-and-politics-aside-us-china-trade-ties-continue

Extracts from Here Comes China

Excellent overview – How Did China Succeed? | Joseph E. Stiglitz  on China’s Economic System

Although Stiglitz is a world banker, he holds different views from the trademark, neoliberal Washington consensus, specifically an economic ideology holding that while people should own the value they produce themselves, economic value derived from land (including all natural resources and natural opportunities) should belong equally to all members of society.  His wide overview here on the growth of China makes sense and is easy listening.

China’s central bank has taken the lead in digital currencies. What does it mean for businesses?  by Jemma Xu and Dan Prud’homme

Outside  China, digital currencies are fraught with incredible risk. In this void, China’s Digital Currency Electronic Payments offers the public confidence unobtainable by private digital currencies. DCEP is itself a stablecoin, but one backed 1:1 by the PBoC with fiat Chinese yuan/renminbi. Its system follows a “two layer” approach. First, and critically, because it is a sovereign digital currency, the PBoC is the only issuing party. Second, to expeditiously diffuse the currency, the central bank issues DCEP to select retail banks and non-financial institutions (e.g., Alibaba, Tencent, and Union Pay) in China with strong pre-existing mobile payment networks, who then merely distribute the currency to the general public. Businesses across China will be required by law to accept DCEP as payment.

Besides the regulatory legitimacy, many factors position DCEP to become the world’s most widely used digital currency:

  • the Chinese state’s track record of rapid institutional innovation;
  • Chinese public support of institutional experimentation;
  • Chinese firms’ strong competitiveness in digital ecosystems and
  • capabilities to quickly adapt to changing technological paradigms and institutions;
  • a massive Chinese population who quickly adopts new digital technologies, and
  • lead the world in adopting mobile payment applications.

Although central banks in several other countries have also been studying digital currencies, none have taken the lead to actually develop and rollout a CBDC at the scale occurring in China. DCEP will be used for purchases in all sectors across the country. To start, as of mid-2020, DCEP has been piloted in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen, Chengdu, Suzhou and Xiong’an – potentially reaching over 42 million people, more than Canada’s entire population. Elsewhere in China, DCEP is already in the process of being piloted in the restaurant and hospitality sectors, with foreign multinationals such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway already signing up to participate. Further, DCEP trials are already being conducted around China to reimburse public sector employees’ travel costs. Yet other pilot initiatives, such as a commitment to use DCEP at venues for large-scale upcoming events in Beijing, are in place.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government recently proposed the creation of a regional digital currency backed by the Chinese RMB/yuan, Japanese yen, South Korean won, and Hong Kong dollar – with DCEP at the centre. And China’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) offers a network to extend DCEP in countries around the globe.

Businesses should prepare for DCEP’s rollout in two main ways. First, they must ensure that they have appropriate infrastructure in place to accommodate DCEP, such as digital wallets. Contracts with third-party financial custodians can also be helpful. On the upside, to facilitate swift legal compliance with DCEP – considering that its acceptance is being required by law in China – the Chinese authorities may integrate DCEP with popular existing digital wallets already widely used by many businesses in China, namely Alipay and Wechat Pay.

Second, businesses may need to explore interoperability options when conducting cross-border trade. Such action may be needed in the longer term if DCEP leads to an alternative international payments system vis-à-vis the current US-led system, which is a probable prospect.
Meanwhile, firms who timely prepare for China’s DCEP rollout can seize several significant opportunities. First, as previously alluded to, the expansion of DCEP will facilitate the internationalisation of the yuan/renminbi. In doing so, the Chinese currency will provide a strong alternative institution to rival the current USD-dominated international payments system.

Third, by facilitating direct transactions between digital wallets, DCEP will eliminate sizeable banking clearing and settlements costs. In other words, ‘payment is settlement’ with no need for separate clearing and settlement processes.

Fourth, DCEP will offer firms new ways of raising capital and secondary trading via the issuance of digital securities and disintermediated trading on exchanges. Digital securities are regulated financial instruments such as equities or bonds where the transaction and shareholder details are recorded on the blockchain ledger. As a stable currency, DCEP will be used to reduce or eliminate the clearing and settlement processes associated with trading digital securities on secondary exchanges. In turn, this will provide firms and investors easier access to digital financial instruments.

Fifth, DCEP’s development will catalyse fintech innovation, giving rise to hybrid products that draw on both traditional markets and digital currencies. Greater numbers of innovative structured products are appearing in the digital currencies market, where the underlying asset is a native digital currency, such as Bitcoin, but the payoffs are based on traditional structured products. DCEP will serve as a reliable alternative underlying-asset in the future, stimulating the creation of more hybrid financial products.
Fifth, and not least, aggregate demand may rise as a result of DCEP’s rollout. DCEP adoption will allow governments to rapidly deploy “helicopter money” to the public without requiring bank accounts. This will empower the previously unbanked to form a new group of consumers.[MORE]

Debt – People criticizing China’s debt see only the debit side of the ledger. If they look at the credit side, they would see offsetting assets. One of those assets is the $20 billion Three Gorges Dam, which generates 100 billion KWh which it sells for US$0.084/KwH, bringing in $8.4 billion every year. Three Gorges tours earn another $3 billion, and flood mitigation and irrigation enhancement save another $3 billion, as the current flooding demonstrates. That’s valuable debt!

China pledged to invest $5.8 billion in the construction of the Moscow-Kazan High Speed Railway. The railway will be extended to China through Kazakhstan. The total cost of the Moscow-Kazan high speed railroad project is $21.4 billion. [MORE]

The Caspian Sea is becoming an alternative to the Suez for shipping between Europe and China, and a great deal of activity is taking place there. Four major Belt & Road routes and one significant Indian route make up the five East-West intersections that the Caspian is shortly to provide, with the potential for a sixth should plans to create a canal between the Caspian and Black Seas come to fruition. [Download Chris Devonshire-Ellis’ Report]

The Port of Beirut poses the biggest geostrategic threat to American power projection because China’s Silk Road is fast creeping towards the docks at Beirut Port. The US, having recently forced Israel to cancel its Haifa rail contract with China, has dampened the Chinese advance in the eastern Mediterranean, and what remains now in the path of the US is the Beirut Port. The US must either invade it to block the Chinese geostrategic mission creep, or else destroy it.[MORE]


See everyone next week for the regular Here Comes China newsletter.  It is a pleasure to work with Godfree and to collate the main points for The Saker Blog.

amarynth

The unbearable lightness of China

April 26, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kishore-Mahbubani-300x198.jpg
Singaporean ex-diplomat and author Kishore Mahbubani speaks at an Asia Society event in a file photo. Photo: Flickr Commons

As a living embodiment of how East and West shall meet, Mahbubani is immeasurably more capable to talk about Chinese-linked intricacies than shallow, self-described Western “experts” on Asia and China.

Especially now when demonization-heavy hybrid war 2.0 against China is practiced by most factions of the US government, the Deep State and the East Coast establishment.

Distinguished fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute, former president of the UN Security Council (from 2001 to 2002) and the founding dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (2004-2017), Mahbubani is the quintessential Asian diplomat.

Ruffling feathers is not his business. On the contrary, he always deploys infinite patience – and insider knowledge – when trying to explain especially to Americans what makes the Chinese civilization-state tick.

All through a book elegantly argued and crammed with persuasive facts, it feels like Mahbubani is applying the Tao. Be like water. Let it flow. He floats like a butterfly reaching beyond his own “paradoxical conclusion”: “A major geopolitical contest between America and China is both inevitable and avoidable.” He centers on the paths towards the “avoidable.”

The contrast with the confrontational, stale and irrelevant Thucydides Trap mindset prevalent in the US could not be starker. It’s quite enlightening to observe the contrast between Mahbubani and Harvard University’s Graham Allison – who seem to admire each other – at a China Institute debate.

An important clue to his approach is when Mahbubani tells us how his Hindu mother used to take him to Hindu and Buddhist temples in Singapore – even as in the island-state most Buddhist monks were actually Chinese. Here we find encapsulated the key cultural/philosophical India-China crossover that defines “deep” East Asia, linking Confucianism, Buddhism and the Tao.

All about the US dollar 

For Asia hands, and for those, as in my case, who have actually lived in Singapore, it’s always fascinating to see how Mahbubani is the quintessential Lee Kuan Yew disciple, though without the haughtiness. As much as his effort to understand China from the inside, across the spectrum, for decades, is more than visible, he’s far from being a disciple of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

And he stresses the point in myriad ways, showing how, in the party slogan, “Chinese” is way more important than “Communist”: “Unlike the Soviet Communist Party, [the CCP] is not riding on an ideological wave; it is riding the wave of a resurgent civilization … the strongest and most resilient civilization in history.”

Inescapably, Mahbubani outlines both Chinese and American geopolitical and geo-economic challenges and shortcomings. And that leads us to arguably the key argument in the book: how he explains to Americans the recent erosion of global trust in the former “indispensable nation,” and how the US dollar is its Achilles’ heel.

So once again we have to wallow in the interminable mire of reserve currency status; its “exorbitant privilege,” the recent all-out weaponization of the US dollar and – inevitably – the counterpunch: those “influential voices” now working to stop using the US dollar as reserve currency.

Enter blockchain technology and the Chinese drive to set up an alternative currency based on blockchain. Mahbubani takes us to a China Finance 40 Forum in August last year, when the deputy director of the People’s Bank of China, Mu Changchun, said the PBOC was “close” to issuing its own cryptocurrency.

Two months later, President Xi announced that blockchain would become a “high priority” and a matter of long-term national strategy.  It’s happening now. The digital yuan – as in a “sovereign blockchain” – is imminent.

And that leads us to the role of the US dollar in financing global trade. Mahbubani correctly analyzes that once this is over, “the complex international system based on the US dollar could come tumbling down, rapidly or slowly.” China’s master plan is to accelerate the process by connecting its digital platforms – Alipay, WeChat Pay – into one global system.

Asian Century 

As Mahbubani carefully explains, “while Chinese leaders want to rejuvenate Chinese civilization, they have no missionary impulse to take over the world and make everyone Chinese.” And still, “America convinced itself that China has become an existential threat.”

The best and the brightest across Asia, Mahbubani included, never cease to be amazed at the American system’s total inability to “make strategic adjustments to this new phase in history.” Mahbubani dedicates a whole chapter – “Can America make U-turns?” – to the quandary.

In the appendix he even adds a text by Stephen Walt debunking “the myth of American exceptionalism.” There’s no evidence the Exceptionalistan ethos is being seriously contested.

A recent McKinsey report  analyzes whether the “next normal” will emerge from Asia, and some of its conclusions are inevitable: “The future global story starts in Asia.” It goes way beyond prosaic numbers stating that in 20 years, by 2040, “Asia is expected to represent 40% of global consumption and 52% of GDP.”

The report argues that, “we may look back on this pandemic as the tipping point when the Asian Century truly began.”

In 1997, during the same week when I was covering the Hong Kong handover, I published a book in Brazil whose translated title was 21st: The Asian Century (excerpts from a few chapters may be found here). By that time I had already lived in Asia for three years, and learned quite a few important lessons from Mahbubani’s Singapore.

China then was still a distant player on the new horizon. Now it’s a completely different ball game. The Asian Century – actually Eurasian Century – is already on, as Eurasia integration develops driven by hard-working acronyms (BRI, AIIB, SCO, EAEU) and the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Mahbubani’s book, capturing the elusive, unbearable lightness of China, is the latest illustration of this inexorable flow of history.

Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy (Kishore Mahbubani), published by Public Affairs (US$19.89).

China locked in hybrid war with US

Photo: AFP
China locked in hybrid war with US

Via The Saker

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Fallout from Covid-19 outbreak puts Beijing and Washington on a collision course

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made his position clear. Photo: AFP

Among the myriad, earth-shattering geopolitical effects of coronavirus, one is already graphically evident. China has re-positioned itself. For the first time since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in 1978, Beijing openly regards the US as a threat, as stated a month ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference during the peak of the fight against coronavirus.

Beijing is carefully, incrementally shaping the narrative that, from the beginning of the coronovirus attack, the leadership knew it was under a hybrid war attack. Xi’s terminology is a major clue. He said, on the record, that this was war. And, as a counter-attack, a “people’s war” had to be launched.

Moreover, he described the virus as a demon or devil. Xi is a Confucianist. Unlike some other ancient Chinese thinkers, Confucius was loath to discuss supernatural forces and judgment in the afterlife. However, in a Chinese cultural context, devil means “white devils” or “foreign devils”: guailo in Mandarin, gweilo in Cantonese. This was Xi delivering a powerful statement in code.

When Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, voiced in an incandescent tweet the possibility that “it might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan” – the first blast to this effect to come from a top official – Beijing was sending up a trial balloon signaliing that the gloves were finally off. Zhao Lijian made a direct connection with the Military Games in Wuhan in October 2019, which included a delegation of 300 US military.

He directly quoted US CDC director Robert Redfield who, when asked last week whether some deaths by coronavirus had been discovered posthumously in the US, replied that  “some cases have actually been diagnosed this way in the US today.”

Zhao’s explosive conclusion is that Covid-19 was already in effect in the US before being identified in Wuhan – due to the by now fully documented inability of US to test and verify differences compared with the flu.

Adding all that to the fact that coronavirus genome variations in Iran and Italy were sequenced and it was revealed they do not belong to the variety that infected Wuhan, Chinese media are now openly  asking questions and drawing a connection with the shutting down in August last year of the “unsafe” military bioweapon lab at Fort Detrick, the Military Games, and the Wuhan epidemic. Some of these questions had been asked – with no response – inside the US itself.

Extra questions linger about the opaque Event 201 in New York on October 18, 2019: a rehearsal for a worldwide pandemic caused by a deadly virus – which happened to be coronavirus. This magnificent coincidence happened one month before the outbreak in Wuhan.

Event 201 was sponsored by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the CIA, Bloomberg, John Hopkins Foundation and the UN.  The World Military Games opened in Wuhan on the exact same day.

Irrespective of its origin, which is still not conclusively established, as much as Trump tweets about the “Chinese virus,” Covid-19 already poses immensely serious questions about biopolitics (where’s Foucault when we need him?) and bio-terror.

The working hypothesis of coronavirus as a very powerful but not Armageddon-provoking bio-weapon unveils it as a perfect vehicle for widespread social control – on a global scale.

Cuba rises as a biotech power

Just as a fully masked Xi visiting the Wuhan frontline last week was a graphic demonstration to the whole planet that China, with immense sacrifice, is winning the “people‘s war” against Covid-19, Russia, in a Sun Tzu move on Riyadh whose end result was a much cheaper barrel of oil, helped for all practical purposes to kick-start the inevitable recovery of the Chinese economy. This is how a strategic partnership works.

The chessboard is changing at breakneck speed. Once Beijing identified coronavirus as a bio-weapon attack the “people’s war” was launched with the full force of the stateMethodically. On a “whatever it takes” basis. Now we are entering a new stage, which will be used by Beijing to substantially recalibrate the interaction with the West, and under very different frameworks when it comes to the US and the EU.

Soft power is paramount. Beijing sent an Air China flight to Italy carrying 2,300 big boxes full of masks bearing the script, “We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers from the same garden.” China also sent a hefty humanitarian package to Iran, significantly aboard eight flights from Mahan Air – an airline under illegal, unilateral Trump administration sanctions.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic could not have been more explicit: “The only country that can help us is China. By now, you all understood that European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale on paper.”

Under harsh sanctions and demonized since forever, Cuba is still able to perform breakthroughs – even on biotechnology. The anti-viral Heberon – or Interferon Alpha 2b – a therapeutic, not a vaccine, has been used with great success in the treatment of coronavirus. A joint venture in China is producing an inhalable version, and at least 15 nations are already interested in importing the therapeutic.

Now compare all of the above with the Trump administration offering $1 billion to poach German scientists working at biotech firm Curevac, based in Thuringia, on an experimental vaccine against Covid-19, to have it as a vaccine “only for the United States.”

Social engineering psy-op?

Sandro Mezzadra, co-author with Brett Neilson of the seminal The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism, is already trying to conceptualize where we stand now in terms of fighting Covid-19.

We are facing a choice between a Malthusian strand – inspired by social Darwinism – “led by the Johnson-Trump-Bolsonaro axis” and, on the other side, a strand pointing to the “requalification of public health as a fundamental tool,” exemplified by China, South Korea and Italy. There are key lessons to be learned from South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

The stark option, Mezzadra notes, is between a “natural population selection,” with thousands of dead, and “defending society” by employing “variable degrees of authoritarianism and social control.” It’s easy to imagine who stands to benefit from this social re-engineering, a 21st century remix of Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death.

Amid so much doom and gloom, count on Italy to offer us Tiepolo-style shades of light. Italy chose the Wuhan option, with immensely serious consequences for its already fragile economy. Quarantined Italians remarkably reacted by singing on their balconies: a true act of metaphysical revolt.

Not to mention the poetic justice of the actual St. Corona (“crown” in Latin) being buried in the city of Anzu since the 9th century. St. Corona was a Christian killed under Marcus Aurelius in 165 AD, and has been for centuries one of the patron saints of pandemics.

Not even trillions of dollars raining from the sky by an act of divine Fed mercy were able to cure Covid-19. G-7 “leaders” had to resort to a videoconference to realize how clueless they are – even as China’s fight against coronavirus gave the West a head start of several weeks.

Shanghai-based Dr. Zhang Wenhongone of China’s top infectious disease experts, whose analyses have been spot on so far, now says China has emerged from the darkest days in the “people’s war” against Covid-19. But he does not think this will be over by summer. Now extrapolate what he’s saying to the Western world.

It’s not even spring yet, and we already know it takes a virus to mercilessly shatter the Goddess of the Market. Last Friday, Goldman Sachs told no fewer than 1,500 corporations that there was no systemic risk. That was false.

New York banking sources told me the truth: systemic risk became way more severe in 2020 than in 1979, 1987 or 2008 because of the hugely heightened danger that the $1.5 quadrillion derivative market would collapse.

As the sources put it, history had never before seen anything like the Fed’s intervention via its little understood elimination of commercial bank reserve requirements, unleashing a potential unlimited expansion of credit to prevent a derivative implosion stemming from a total commodity and stock market collapse of all stocks around the world.

Those bankers thought it would work, but as we know by now all the sound and fury signified nothing. The ghost of a derivative implosion – in this case not caused by the previous possibility, the shutting down of the Strait of Hormuz – remains.

We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism. What’s certain is that the whole global economy has been hit by an insidious, literally invisible circuit breaker. This may be just a “coincidence.” Or this may be, as some are boldly arguing, part of a possible, massive psy-op creating the perfect geopolitlcal and social engineering environment for full-spectrum dominance.

Additionally, along the hard slog down the road, with immense, inbuilt human and economic sacrifice, with or without a reboot of the world-system, a more pressing question remains: will imperial elites still choose to keep waging full-spectrum-dominance hybrid war against China?

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