Many do not know, or forget, that Putin consistently hailed and defended Xi’s policies against the Uyghurs. Xi’s support of Putin’s is now a way to reciprocate.
by Kok Bayraq
China continues to support Russia on its invasion of Ukraine, despite warnings by the West and tremendous human tragedies such as the Bucha Massacre. As Al Jazeera noticed, “State news agency Xinhua calls the war ‘a special military operation’ and ‘the Russia-Ukraine crisis’ but never refers to it as an invasion. CCTV, the state broadcaster, mentioned civilian casualties for the first time only three weeks after Russia invaded. More recently, state outlets doubled down on the Russian conspiracy theory claiming the US is funding the development of biological weapons in Ukraine, including migratory birds that could spread avian viruses in Russia.” “Chinese state media have lent their platforms to amplify Russian propaganda. State outlets cite Kremlin officials and Russian state media as their news sources, and receive regular state directives that guide their reports.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been portrayed as a hero in much of the Western media. In China, his nightly speeches to his people get little coverage, and he has been mocked because he was once an actor.
To cut off dictators’ power plays, it is important to realize their coordination not only on the battlefield but also in pre-war strategizing. We may only see the sensational parts of their actions, but there is always an invisible coordination and the building of alliances that takes places behind the scenes.
I would suggest that China’s moral support is also a payment to Putin, for his support of China on the Uyghur Genocide.
In June 2021, Putin firmly defended China and denied the existence of the Uyghur genocide. In an interview with NBC News, he backed China’s Uyghur policy: “I met certain Uyghurs, [and] what I heard with my own ears [was] that, on the whole, they welcome the policies of the Chinese authorities in this area.”
However, he did not mention whom he met with specifically, or whether they represented the Uyghurs or the regime. He continued, “They believe that China has done a great deal for people who live in this part of the country.”
If this meeting truly happened, Putin may have met with puppet chairpersons of the Uyghur region, including former Governor Nur Bekri or Shokret Zakir. Putin knows that these “Uyghurs” are not speaking for the Uyghur people; they are spokespersons for their boss, Xi Jinping.
The invasion of Ukraine exposed the true motive of Putin’s blunt lie. His meeting with Xi Jinping during the Beijing Olympics and their joint statement of unlimited support for each other are evidence of their firm, long-lasting coordination in the crimes they are committing and plan to commit.
Putin and Xi Jinping’s coordination on the Ukraine invasion was only revealed after the war began; specifically, when Xi Jinping’s demand for Putin to postpone the war was reported, and the declaration of their “unlimited partnership” in their joint statement at the Olympics was noted. However, the world did not pay enough attention on their coordination about the Uyghur genocide.
China is trying to portray itself as neutral, by mentioning “legitimate security concerns” that need to be discussed by “all parties,” and abstained from voting on a U.N. resolution that condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Previously, Putin was not personally at the forefront of the disinformation war on Uyghur genocide, but he was working behind-the-scenes to back China against the West.
Let’s look at the chronology.
In 2018, Rawil Gaynetdin, head of the Mufti Council of Russia in Moscow, spoke about the conditions of Muslims in the People’s Republic of China after a visit to the Uyghur region. He denied awareness of any form of persecution against them, stating, “Indeed, the Chinese faithful with whom I was in contact, including those belonging to the ethnic Uyghurs, have assured me that they live in absolute peace.”
Asia News has underlined that, “Gaynetdin is the oldest [Muslim] leader, very close to President Putin, and leads the Islamic community from Moscow.”
By October 2019, Russia’s youngest brother, Belarus, had taken the leading role in the anti-Uyghur bloc that formed an anti-Western line on the Uyghur issue during the discussion on human rights at the United Nations General Assembly.
On March 31, 2021, Vladimir Putin’s schoolmate, political comrade, and Uzbek “brother” Vladimir Norov, secretary of the Shanghai Group, visited several locations in the Uyghur region, including Urumqi, Kashgar, Aksu, and other cities.
Upon his return, he stated, “In Xinjiang, there are no violations of human rights, much less religious discrimination or racial genocide.” The visit was conducted as part of a Russian–Chinese project aimed at “exposing the Western lies.” The Russian media that accompanied Norov published interviews with satisfied workers from East Turkestan (Ch. Xinjiang).
On May 4 of the same year, another Russian–Chinese project that aimed at “unmasking the Western lies” about the Uyghur genocide was prepared by the joint efforts of the Russian and Chinese media and appeared in the “Rossiyskaja Gazeta.” Their reports claimed that Uyghurs “voluntarily work in local industry.” Clearly, the campaign against (or rather spreading) “fake news” has been going on for some time.
It is difficult to imagine that these efforts by Putin’s “brothers” took place without his knowledge. It is likely that the visits were arranged, and the resulting statements were drafted by the Putin staff itself. Through all these steps, Putin clearly paved the way to garner support from China for his own planned war against Ukraine, and he built an unconditional friendship, which he may need both during and after the war.
The chronology of the visits and statements proves that Putin’s stance against the Uyghurs was orchestrated carefully and gradually. In contrast to his character and priorities, he was constantly attentive to the Uyghur issue during that period, while Uyghurs’ Muslim brothers in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and even “oppressed Palestine” also supported China’s Uyghur crackdown. Why?
The answer is simple.
Russia has deep and comprehensive knowledge of the Uyghur situation through its historical and geopolitical ties with the Uyghur region and its influence on Central Asian countries, where more than a million Uyghurs live in exile. In 2016 and 2017, several hundred Uyghurs doing business in Russia and thousands in Central Asia suddenly disappeared, and citizens in the Uyghur region were expelled under various pretexts. Dramatic changes in tourist and business trips between East Turkestan (Ch. Xinjiang) and these countries showed that there was something wrong in the region. However, the changes ended with the building of 380 concentration camps, which Western media outlets found using satellite cameras. Russia is well aware of the goals of these camps and how they works are.
The coordination between Xi and Putin on both the Uyghur Genocide and the Ukraine war, reveals that the Russian dictator’s support of games like the Olympics may be more than merely sports activities, and investigative visits or even scholarly exchanges may not be really journalistic or scientific in nature. These activities may be hiding the preparation of other crimes against humanity.
The world must be careful and monitor this coordination between dictators, not only during war but before further crimes occur. Scrutiny and exposure of the true nature and future goals of the two dictators’ coordination is a necessity; otherwise, their combined strength may shed blood in more than Ukraine and East Turkestan. Similar situations may occur in Taiwan, the South China Sea, Eastern Europe, or the Baltic region in the future.