about China’s persecution of the Muslim Uighurs has been coming thick and fast.
the Citizen Power Institute released a report on the use of forced labor. The
report finds that up to 1 million imprisoned Uighurs and members of other
Muslim ethnic groups have been made to work in China’s cotton value chain,
which produces cotton, textiles, and apparel. In November, the New York Times
released more than 400 pages of internal Chinese government documents that
exposed how China organizes the mass detention of Uighurs.
In July, 22
countries issued a joint statement criticizing China for "disturbing
reports of large-scale arbitrary detentions" and "widespread
surveillance and restrictions" of Uighurs and other minorities in the
country's Xinjiang region. The next day, 37 countries, nearly half of them
Muslim-majority, and none of them democracies, defended China's human rights
record and dismissed the reported detention of up to 2 million Muslims.
Ibrahim of the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute has pointed
out that the acquiescence of Muslim-majority countries illustrates “’Muslim
solidarity’ is a convenient and effective slogan to be thrown at domestic
audiences” but, when push comes to a shove from China, you can “forget about the
This is a
serious issue, not a provocation like Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. Why are
leaders in the Islamic world refusing to take a stand?
stand out immediately. First, faith leaders in the Islamic world probably
reckon it is futile to chastise the Communist Party of China for actions taken
against a non-Han people practicing what the Party sees as an “illegal
superstition”. China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, isn’t some Danish
cartoonist -- there would be consequences for speaking out.
in that pragmatic vein, the Saudi Aramco IPO is looking parlous and oil prices
are below the $65-per-barrel price Aramco uses to builds its financial
assumptions. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MbS, needs money
to complete Saudi Vision 2030, but he would prefer that money to have no
strings attached to concerns about human rights -- so, enter the dragon. China
has stepped up as a source of capital as the kingdom tries to shift its economy
away from energy exports. Xi recently said China was taking a “strategic high
view and long-term perspective,” meaning let’s agree not to talk about Uighurs
or Jamal Khashoggi. MbS reciprocated by endorsing China’s policies: “We respect
and support China’s rights to take counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures
to safeguard national security.”
not just the Saudis. “Nobody knows nothin’” seems to be the operating principle
of Muslim leadership when someone says “Uighur”.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan initially criticized Beijing, but recently muted
his comments. With economic relations stalled with the United States and the
European Union, the economy weak, and the U.S. Congress threatening sanctions
for Russian defense purchases and Turkey’s incursion into Syria, Turkey will
continue its turn east. In June, China’s central bank gave Istanbul a $1
billion cash injection, and in August the Industrial and Commercial Bank of
China provided a $3.6 billion loan package for Turkey’s energy and
voluble Prime Minister Imran Khan could only say “[f]rankly, I don’t know much
about that” when asked about the plight of the Uighurs, but that may be because
of China’s planned investment of $62 billion in ports, infrastructure, industry
and energy-generation facilities in Pakistan. And while Pakistan’s Islamist
militants as a rule are always ready to raise the issue of persecuted Sunnis,
on the issue of Xinjiang’s Uighurs all we get is a “deafening silence.”
matters, but it isn’t all about cash. The governments friendly to Beijing know
that supporting human rights for Uighurs will lead their own citizens -- even
worse, their countries’ religious minorities -- to demand human rights of their
governments may be successfully dealing with some short- or medium-term
cash-flow problems, but they are eroding their legitimacy as defenders of the
faith. Into the breach may step groups like the separatist East Turkestan
Islamic Movement (ETIM), which may inspire youth, radicals, and the devout.
designated a terrorist organization in 2002 by the United States and the United
Nations. The U.S. designation might have come in exchange for China’s support
for the U.S. attack on Iraq. China’s actions have been the ETIM’s best recruiting
sergeant, and if ETIM narrows its target list to Chinese officials and
installations it may find blind eyes being turned as it takes the fight to the
Chinese enemy and ignores the governments in Central and South Asia.
with combat experience in Syria and Afghanistan will want another mission, and
fighting is more fun than farming. These new mujahedeen will be ready to fight
a Communist regime that suppresses their religion and culture.
some lessons for Washington?
the United States thinks a foreign-policy initiative makes sense, despite
disapproval from some Muslim countries, press ahead. The Trump administration
may be testing this idea by moving the
American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty
over the Golan Heights, and reversing the U.S. position on the illegality of
Israeli settlements on the West Bank.
China wants troublemakers like Pakistan as allies, let them.
Should the U.S. Do?
sincerely warn China of the trouble that lies ahead if a serious terrorist
campaign is kicked off by ETIM or a likeminded group. Remind them that their
policies may lead to a situation where in nearby countries offer only
perfunctory responses to Chinese demands for counter-terrorism assistance,
especially if the terrorists only hit Chinese targets. China will ignore any
warnings by the Americans, but Washington will know that it tried.
political support for Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan for refusing to
return fleeing Uighurs to China, but follow their lead on how much publicity to
give the effort. (Use your “inside voice,” America.) If China cancels
investments in Central Asian countries as retaliation, support offsetting
development assistance from the World Bank, the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank, and the Islamic
consider allowing the 22 Uighurs who were held at the Guantanamo Bay detainment
camp but found to be "no longer enemy combatants" to settle in the
United States. It’s likely the Chinese snookered the Americans in the aftermath
of 9-11 by portraying all Uighur activists as terrorists which landed 22 of
them in Gitmo for over a decade. In
2009, Congress opposed President Barack Obama’s plan to resettle two Uighurs in
the United States. Ten years later, it’s time for Congress to show its concern
for the Uighurs is more than press-release deep.
that the United States continues to be the world’s leading advocate of
religious freedom for all, even as the Organization for Islamic Cooperation
bent to China’s will and commended it for “providing care to its Muslim
continue work on a trade deal with China, while continuing to sanction Chinese
entities that use forced Muslim labor. Then, deal or not, on November 4, 2020,
increase the pressure even more.
James Durso (@james_durso) is the Managing
Director of Corsair LLC. He was a professional staff member at the 2005 Defence
Base Closure and Realignment Commission and the Commission on Wartime
Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr.
Durso served as a U.S. Navy officer for 20 years and specialized in logistics
and security assistance. His overseas military postings were in Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia, and he served in Iraq as a civilian transport advisor with the
Coalition Provisional Authority. The views expressed are the author's own.
Headline: A Failure of Leadership in the Muslim World
Source: The Real Clear World