More on the Racism in Western China
- Until 1949, Han made up only 6% of the region's population. Today they make up 40%. That represents a significant migration and a conscious colonization on the part of the Chinese government. And today the Han continue to move there by choice, making them settlers...making it impossible in my opinion to consider them "freedom fighters."
- Among the most profitable state-sponsored businesses in the region, the bingtuan (large farming and construction projects), employ 1.3 million people of whom only a tiny fraction are Uighur, despite their being the majority. This alone proves state-sponsored discrimination in the workplace.
- Despite the real murder and violence of the recent riots, there is a history of Han violence against Uighur for trumped up (i.e., false) charges of rape by Uighurs, suggesting a horrific racist element at play here.
- The Han (even educated Han) openly describe the Uighur in the most degrading of stereotypes.
- The Chinese government goes so far in its religious oppression of the Uighur as to ensure : "Government workers are not allowed to practice the religion. Imams cannot teach the Koran in private, and study of Arabic is allowed only at designated government schools. Two of Islam’s five pillars — the sacred fasting month of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj — are also closely managed: students and government workers are compelled to eat during Ramadan, and passports of Uighurs have been confiscated to force them to join official hajj tours." [They compel them to eat during Ramadan. That alone displays a complete disrespect for their religion.]
- The Uighur have lived in this region since the 10th century. It is their home. As the Han continue to squeeze them out, they have nowhere else to go.
It's an advertisement for restaurant staff at the hotel, in roles from cooks to supervisors. Kashgar, of course, is a historic trading town on the extreme western frontier of China, much closer to Lahore, Kabul, and New Delhi than to Beijing. The original population there would be of Uighur or other Turkic ethnicity, rather than Han Chinese. But the last line of the advertisement says, "This offer is for Han Chinese (汉族) only, ages 18-30."That the Chinese government permits such blatant racism (something we're told has not existed since the inception of Communist power, but clearly does) puts the responsibility for the unrest squarely on their heads, in my opinion. (Be sure and see Fallow's follow-up, as well, in which outraged Chinese readers write back to tell him he doesn't understand that sign...that it's actually an act of kindness to non-Han citizens)
The same Anonymous reader who I cite above also suggested: "The Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians should also be reminded in no uncertain terms that they are the relatively new kids in [the US] and as such should bring their arrogance quotient down a few notches. Don't throw stones if you live in a glass house." This brand of do-nothing relativism might pass for intellectual honesty in a vacuum, but when people are being murdered as we speak, when ancient city centers are being torn down, when the majority is so clearly being marginalized and denied their rights, despite any mistakes made by our ancestors, today we owe it to those people and even to ourselves to call it what it is: an apology for apartheid.
Where I will point fingers inward, though, is where the other evidence of racism is at play here. It's from a source even more insidious. It is not the response of the Chinese government or the Han to the Uighur culture, but rather the response of the West to the state-sponsored oppression. As Mona Eltahawy notes on The Huffington Post:
I've read the most outrageous statements about "that's what you get when Muslims riot" on some right-wing political blogs, never once addressing the racist system under which the Uighur are being forced to live. Such comments are parallel to the mindless defenses of Jim Crow laws we've heard in the US, and those making them should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
Following the news that did make it out of Xinjiang, I thought if only the Uighurs were Buddhists like the Tibetans with whom the Uighurs share almost mirror grievances against Beijing.
If they were Buddhists, Bjork, Sting, Bono and all those other one-named saviors of the world's poor and oppressed would have held "Free Xinjiang" concerts already. But the West continues to largely ignore the Uighurs. Maybe they're not as cuddly as the Tibetans or their leader the Dalai Lama.
Perhaps the U.S. State Department would issue stronger words in their defense if only the Uighurs weren't the wrong kind of minority in a country that produces half the goods we use and which currently lends the wobbly global economy enough money to keep it just this side of total collapse.The Uighurs aren't Buddhists but are instead Muslims and us Muslims don't get much love these days. You'd think the U.S. at least would be paying a bit more attention to Uighurs after locking up four of their brethren at the prison camp at Guantanamo without charge for seven years.
Further, as outlined in this US State Department briefing (pdf) on the role of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in combating terrorism, the US knows full well, for example, that
the PRC has manipulated the campaign against terrorists to increase oppression of the Uighur people, and has detained and beaten Rebiya Kadeer’s children and imprisoned an ethnic Uighur Canadian.In other words, the Uighur are being used as pawns, and yet because they don't have the Dalai Lama's PR agent working for them, are widely being ignored by the West. The State Department is well aware of the details (again see the report above), but so far has been relatively silent on the issue. What's taking place in China today is utterly, indefensively violating the human rights of the Uighur and it's time for the Chinese government to acknowledge and correct it. It's past time for Obama and Clinton to condemn it in no uncertain terms.