(Above) “Seated in rows in blue boiler suits, this is possibly the most famous image of that is used to imply the existence of concentration camps, slave labour and genocide. Sourced by Qiao Collective back to Luopu County Reform and Correction Centre on April 14, 2017, what has become the face of the ‘genocide’ [claims] and still appears in articles by the BBC, Daily Mail, the Guardian and countless other western outlets” was in reality simply a routine de-radicalisation talk given to prisoners, for their own good, at a normal, humane criminal rehabilitation facility says the Morning Star
Today’s Guardian carries the following report from Reuters:
China’s cyber regulator has launched a hotline to report online criticism of the ruling Communist party and its history, vowing to crack down on “historical nihilists” ahead of the party’s 100th anniversary in July.
The tip line allows people to report fellow internet users who “distort” the party’s history, attack its leadership and policies, defame national heroes and “deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture” online, said a notice posted by an arm of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Friday.
“Some with ulterior motives … have been spreading historical nihilistic misrepresentations online, maliciously distorting, denigrating and negating the history of the party,” said the notice.
“We hope that the majority of internet users will actively play their part in supervising society … and enthusiastically report harmful information,” it said.
“Historical nihilism” is a phrase used in China to describe public doubt and scepticism over the Chinese Communist party’s description of past events.
China’s internet is tightly censored and most foreign social media networks, search engines and news outlets are banned in the country.
Internet authorities often increase censorship and online supervision ahead of major events including historical anniversaries, political meetings and sports events.
The notice did not specify what punishments would be handed to those who are reported through the hotline, but netizens in China already face jail time and other legal punishments for posting content that is critical of the county’s leadership, policies and history.
Legal amendments released earlier this year stipulate that people who “insult, slander of infringe upon” the memory of China’s national heroes and martyrs face jail time of up to three years.
Last week, authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu detained a 19-year-old man accused of making “insulting” comments online about Japan’s 1937 occupation of Nanjing.
Chinese social media sites that fail to censor critical content also face financial sanctions as well as temporary suspensions of service under current law.
We trust that the Chinese ruling class will have no objections to the following explanation, by Kate Woolford, a member of the Southampton Young Communist League and and social media editor of the Young Communist League’s Challenge magazine, of the thoroughly benign vocational education centres that offer helpful education and training to Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang (NB: what follows is an excerpt; the full article, published in today’s Morning Star can be read here):
Individual accounts and their problems
Western governments have a long history of presenting individual accounts as objective facts in order to push an imperialist agenda. The US uses anti-China stories to condone trade wars, calls for sanctions, military drills on their coast and to drum up support for territorial conflicts in and around China — Hong Kong, Tibet, Taiwan and now of course, Xinjiang.
It is no surprise that the Xinjiang region has large oil reserves, a recurring feature when US “concern for human rights” turns into backing separatists and insurgents. There are clear parallels between the Nariyah testimony [used to justify the invasion of Iraq] and the atrocity propaganda now being used against China.
What is really happening in Xinjiang?
The destabilisation of the Middle East by the West led to a surge in Islamic terrorism around the world — including China. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (Etim) in Xinjiang has ties to the Taliban and al-Qaida — it sent the so-called Turkistan Brigade (Katibat Turkistani) to join a network of al-Qaida-linked groups fighting alongside al-Nusra in Syria.
Despite this and despite US military officials confirming that they had targeted Etim through air strikes in Badakhshan, close to the border of Xinjiang, the US decided to take them off its list of terrorist organisations on October 20, 2020 — which removes any US penalties for assisting or funding the group.
According to CGTN, “From 1990 to 2016, thousands of terrorist attacks have been launched in Xinjiang, killing large numbers of innocent people and hundreds of police officers.”
In response, China has launched campaigns to crack down on violent extremism, separatism and terrorism with a focus on re-education. The camps were built to de-radicalise Muslims who had been victims of Etim’s ideas — this is the point of the mass mobilisation in the region that has led to false allegations of “genocide,” “forced sterilisation” and “torture.”
The report by the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China puts the state’s case forward plainly.
“Faced with this severe and complex problem [religious extremism], Xinjiang has upheld the principle of addressing both the symptoms and the root causes in the fight against terrorism and extremism, by striking hard at serious terrorist crimes, which are limited in number and by educating and rehabilitating people influenced by religious extremism and involved in minor violations of the law.
“In accordance with the law, it has established a group of vocational education centres to offer systemic education and training in response to a set of urgent needs: to curb frequent terrorist incidents, to eradicate the breeding ground for religious extremism, to help trainees acquire a better education and vocational skills, find employment and increase their incomes and most of all, to safeguard social stability and long-term peace in Xinjiang.”
At the camps residents are taught Mandarin — the lingua franca spoken by 73 percent of the Chinese population — taught technical skills in order to help them find work when they leave and offered mental guidance to overcome radicalised ways of thinking.
Of course, as is the case everywhere in the world, the severity of a sentence depends on the scale of the crime and the willingness of a person of acknowledge their guilt.
The people in the re-education centres are assessed on how much harm they have caused, their willingness to receive training and whether they have already completed a prison sentence but might still require further rehabilitation.
The people in the centres are provided with free education and once the trainees reach their expected criteria, they are offered certificates of completion and can leave. Depending on the reason they are there, many are allowed to go home to visit their families once or twice a week.
It is absolutely not a campaign to stop them practising Islam — religious activities are protected by Article 36 of the constitution: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organisation or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.
“The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.”
And despite allegations that the Uighur language is banned in China, made by outlets like Radio Free Asia, in the background of a BBC documentary exploring a centre in Hotan, Xinjiang, Uighur script is clearly visible on the walls — the language is used in “the camps” themselves. Lessons are held in both.
Although only 0.31 per cent of the Chinese population, the Uyghur language is also present on Chinese money.