Is this China’s final solution for the Uyghurs?
The first contact between the Han Chinese and the nomadic ancestors of the Uyghurs in 130CE was positive. Buddhism and trade thrived along what was later called the Silk Road bringing prosperity to many. China’s Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911, began to refer to the Uyghur region as Xinjiang, meaning the “new frontier.” That name demonstrated a key difference in how the Chinese viewed this Turkic region, and today one of the five stars on the Chinese flag represents the Uyghurs. This region, called both Xinjiang and Eastern Turkestan, was devoured by the Qing Dynasty and officially named Xinjiang in 1884.
The Qing Dynasty controlled Xinjiang until this dynasty collapsed in 1911. The Communist based People’s Republic of China (PRC) began a process of moving more Han Chinese people there, and by 2000, 40 percent of Xinjiang was Han Chinese. China began major development projects in Xinjiang, and the good jobs went to Han Chinese, while Uyghurs watched from the sidelines, growing increasingly resentful.
The Uyghurs lashed back. In 2009 there were large scale ethnic riots in Xinjiang’s capital city of Urumqi and 200 perished in the bloodshed, most of them Han Chinese. From then on, the Chinese government has blamed the entire Uyghur population, regarding them as Muslim terrorists. Starting in the 2010s, the Chinese government become increasingly cruel in their treatment of the Uyghurs. With a population of about 12 million, about one million Uyghur men and some women have been sent to “re-education camps” to be indoctrinated in the dogma of the PRC government. While Uyghur men are away, their wives and children face even grimmer consequences since the Chinese want to drastically change Uyghur families to become loyal to the government. Under the guise of what the Chinese government calls the “Pair up and become a family” program, Han Chinese monitors stay with Uyghur families every two months, work and eat with them, and even sleep in the same beds as the wives.
Women who are sent to internment camps face even greater cruelty and humiliation. A February 2, 2021 article in BBC News reports gang rapes of interned Uyghur women. Uyghurs who remain in China are vulnerable to incarceration if their relatives outside the country speak out. Beijing is far from repentant.
What is China trying to accomplish? Is the end goal to terrorize the Uyghurs into submission or is it actually genocide? There has been a forced sterilization program among the Uyghurs since 2016. They have also used forced birth control and mandatory abortions to lower the number of newborn Uyghurs. These efforts have been very successful according to a graph published by the Associated Press in June 2020.
Historically speaking, totalitarian governments do not respond to outside pressure, and China is no exception. Yet there can be pressure brought on them from above. God is much more powerful than any government, and we need to turn to Him.
Chief of State: President Xi Jinping
Head of Gov.: Premier Li Keqiang
Evangelical Christians: 6.3%
Dominant Religion: Non-Religious
Persecution Ranking: 27th
Life Expectancy: 75.3 Years
Literacy Rate: 95.1%
Population Below Poverty Line: 6.1%
Refugees Living in China: 301,519
- The Diplomat, “Troubled Today, China’s Xinjiang Has a Long History.” July 30, 2015
- History Today, “A Uighur’s History of China.” January, 2020
- BBC News, “Why is There Tension Between China and the Uighurs?” September 25, 2014.
- BBC News ‘Their goal is to destroy everyone’: Uighur Camp Detainees Allege Systematic Rape.” February 2, 2021.
- Independent, “Muslim Women ‘Forced to Share Beds’ With Male Chinese Officials After Husbands Detained in Internment Camps.” November 5, 2019.
- Cato.com, “Uyghur Genocide Shows Urgency of Combatting Neo-Malthusianism.” July 21, 2020.
- Photo Credit: Hanson Lu, Unsplash.com