News Analysis By Kevin Lin 

The US and other members of the international community have explicitly disdain against China’s response to the Uyghur community.

China believes that they are not in the wrong, but instead, believe it is the best course of action against terrorism by confining Uyghurs in camps. China has made significant process since the violent protests from the Uyghurs in 2009, but has it gone too far?

In China that is exactly what is happening to the Uighur community. Uyghurs are Chinese Muslims that live in western China called Xin Jiang. In that region, it is half-filled with the Han community (mainland China community) and Uyghurs.

It was at one point considered one of the most mixed nations culturally considering that its location was influenced by all of the surrounding nations.

Conflict of Interests

However, China has a very keen interest in the region where Uyghurs are living, considering its historic Belt and Road initiative. In 2013, Xi Jing Ping commenced his Belt and Road initiative, similar to the historic ancient Silk Road. He wants China to be an economic superpower through means of establishing stronger trade relations throughout the world.

China considers Xin Jiang a key location in terms of branching out its business throughout the world. They definitely consider the Uighur community a threat due to their initiative and their policy. Xin Jiang is a key location because China’s trade lines would be more efficient to reach other countries if they go through Xin Jiang.

The Uyghur community’s ideology and 2009 protests pose a threat to mainland China’s drive for an economic post in Xin Jiang. They believe that with the Uighurs believing in Islam, their ideology equates to extremism against the state. China has, in turn, created concentration camps for all of the Uighur communities to educate them to be compliant citizens of China.

The US State Department estimates that there are about 800,000 all the way up to two million Uighurs are living in detention camps. Inside these camps, Chinese officials say vocational training occurs and officials do not infringe upon human rights.

But the Council on Foreign Relations finds that former detainees report that torture occurs in these camps, some cases of sexual abuse and constant surveillance in the camps.

What the Media Thinks

From a report on CNN, Mihrgul Tursan, a Uyghur, recounts personal stories within these camps. She mentions that as she was put into these camps, she would see people from her community. When she was taken captive, her children were taken into a hospital and fed through intravenous tubes when they should have been breastfed. One of the children died as a result.

What the US should do as a result of this? In order to find the right solution, solid evidence has to be given against China. There are numerous eyewitnesses given to the UN about the internment camp as shown with Mihrgul Tursan. Other evidence exists in the 400 leaked documents that insinuate the troubling conditions of the internment camps, which China calls “Vocational Camps” according to the New York Times.

These documents include orders to contain the Uyghur community at all costs and to threaten those who would be willing to publicize what is going on in Xin Jiang.  

BBC has called out China’s policy but was dismissed on the basis that the sources of the documents. Many countries have condemned what China has done. None have done nothing in response except for 22 countries that signed a petition against China. Higher tariffs against China for holding these camps would be a tactic that is recommended. The tariff war between China and the US causes economic hardships for everyone else.

The Reasoning

Some would question the motive to help out the Uyghur community. Why should the average American household in America care? Why should any nation step into a full-on fight against China? Not only are people trying to still recover from the 2008 market crash. Poverty is still prevalent according to the government Census Bureau when poverty is at 11.8 percent in the US alone.

With China’s Belt and Road initiative, China remains as a growing power that will influence many nations besides Xin Jiang. According to the Council of Foreign Relations, many Muslim majority countries have praised China’s actions for their counter-terrorism. It questions whether or not other countries should act.

Whatever action is taken, there is no clear winner.

The problem in itself is called to question when countries deny what is truly going on. If one were to take a stance towards the Uyghur situation, certain negative consequences will be given. Will the Uyghur community be recognized, or will all of this be ignored? Is China’s response justified from the violent protests in 2009 or is it excessive?