China ‘in danger of losing its grip’ over Tibet and Xinjiang


China is in danger of losing its grip over Tibet and Xinjiang and needs a radical reset of its ethnic policies, experts suggest.

In September last year, Shohret Hoshur, a Uighur journalist for Radio Free Asia, a non-profit broadcaster based in Washington DC, received an email titled “Cry from the Homeland”. It described a documentary being screened to students, teachers and education officials in Xinjiang,  FT Beijing correspondent Christian Shepherd writes in a must-read analysis:

Called The Plot Inside the Textbooks, the film revealed for the first time the alleged “crime” that Chinese authorities were using as a reason to detain and jail hundreds of Uighur intellectuals.  According to an audio recording reviewed by the FT, the documentary warns viewers to be on guard against “two-faced people” who “secretly acted to split the motherland”. With dramatic music and sotto voce narration, it tells the story of 88 individuals who “with malicious intent” had compiled and edited school textbooks in Uighur.

When Kamaltürk Yalqun, a Uighur who lives in exile in Philadelphia, read about the film on the Radio Free Asia website, it confirmed his worst fears about the fate of his father, Yalqun Rozi. A prominent Uighur intellectual, Rozi had been an editor for the official Xinjiang Education Publishing House and one of the main editors for the textbooks. Among Uighur literati, Rozi is best known for his sharp but fair essays on Uighur art and culture. According to Yalqun, his father’s essays were, more often than not, critical of Uighur lifestyles.

“My father wanted Uighur society to become intellectually strong, a critically thinking society,” Yalqun told the FT. Rozi would take aim at what he saw as bad habits, such as extravagant spending on luxurious clothes or constant partying.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project today welcomed the passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act by the United States Senate. The first legislation passed by any nation responding to the Uyghur human rights crisis sends a powerful message to Beijing as global outrage continues to grow over China’s horrific campaign of ethno-religious persecution, it said

A former Xinjiang University president is at risk of “imminent” execution, 
Radio Free Asia reports. Amnesty International adds that Tashpolat Tiyip faces execution  (HT: Human Rights in China). 

Scholars of the region argue that China’s Communist party is attempting to “re-engineer” minority society to make Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang ever more like the Han Chinese majority. Some experts have even begun to call for the campaign to be labelled “cultural genocide”, a term usually defined as the forced assimilation of an indigenous group with the aim of eliminating its cultural distinctness, The FT’s Shepherd adds.

“For [the campaign] to fit the definition of [cultural] genocide, it would need to be a premeditated systematic effort orchestrated by the state,” James Leibold, an expert on China’s ethnic policy at La Trobe University in Melbourne, told the FT.  “I think it’s important that we start to call it what it is. Re-engineering, rewiring, remoulding all work, but the evidence suggests that cultural genocide fits.”

The rapid proliferation of censorship and surveillance technology around the world is threatening human rights, the NED’s Center for International Media Assistance adds. Authored by Open Technology Fund Information Controls Fellow Valentin Weber, a new research report to be released at the following event tracks the export of Chinese and Russian censorship and surveillance technology around the world, providing fresh insight into the importance of telecommunications infrastructure to modern authoritarianism.

Welcome and Opening Remarks:


Daniel O’Maley, Deputy Editor and Digital Policy Specialist, Center for International Media Assistance


Natalia Arno, President, Free Russia Foundation
Ron Deibert, Director, The Citizen Lab
David Kaye, U.N. Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
Valentin Weber, University of Oxford and OTF Information Controls Fellow

Moderator: Laura Cunningham, Principal Director, Open Technology Fund

Tuesday, September 17, 10:00-11:30am EDT. National Endowment for Democracy, 1025 F Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20004. RSVP

Print Friendly, PDF & Email