A Uyghur activist looks at the truth behind Xi Jinping’s visit to Xinjiang: peace in appearance only.
by Kok Bayraq
No pre-visit press statement was issued, no news of journey reported until the visit was well underway. It was an obvious abnormality, given that the region is under domestic and international scrutiny over accusations of genocide. The lack of announcement may have been to either surprise or hide it from people in the Uyghur region. The latter is likely true—there is no need to surprise the oppressed.
The reason for Xi Jinping’s lack of transparency is clear. He is aware of the crimes he has committed in the Uyghur region over the last five years.
Chinese officials have repeatedly and proudly stated that there has been no single violent incident in “Xinjiang” since the establishment of the “vocational training centers.” If it is so, why was Xi Jinping afraid of publicizing his visit to a region where the objective of zero violence has been achieved? This is because he has not reached this goal by solving the root of the problem—illegal occupation of Uyghur land and ethnic injustice policies in the region. Instead, he has fueled the problem with unprecedented crackdowns, including the incarceration of more than three million people. From a sociological perspective, a zero-violence record is not natural stability but artificial stability. It is not due to a lack of resistance; the resistance has moved underground. Xi Jinping is well aware of this fact and its dangers.
In 2014, Xi Jinping’s first visit to the region was “welcomed” by an explosion at the Urumqi train station. He may not have forgotten this precedent, so his latest visit may have been unannounced to leave potential attackers unprepared. However, hiding his travel dates and itinerary did not provide him with adequate comfort or confidence, and the police stations located every few blocks in Urumqi did not allow him enough freedom. This fear was reflected in the pictures of the official Xinhua news agency: the Uyghur residents, who surrounded Xi Jinping while smiling and applauding, mostly comprised women and the elderly. There were almost no young male residents.
What brought Xi Jinping to “Xinjiang”? Politically, he wanted to tell the world that he does not regret the genocide he has committed and for which he has been criticized; he does not care about international public opinion. With this message, Xi Jinping wanted to encourage his military, police forces, and Han settlers in the region. Psychologically, he was demonstrating his gratification over the successful concealment of thousands of corpses of those who have died in his camps and prisons, killed by his chauvinist comrades.
Boasting of strength is normal, but boasting of crime is not. While most murderers in human history have tried to cover their guilt with reasons and excuses, China has no such tradition. Holding up all the men in the military age in a captured nation, then boasting of a “zero-violence victory” is unique to Chinese officials. If China had won and formed this victory against the army of a state or against armed rebel groups in the region, it would have been possible to think there was a moral side to this, and a reason to be proud. In reality, it is a victory against a small and unorganized group of “terrorists” who had no weapons other than axes and knives. This victory came in killing these men, their wives, children, relatives, and neighbors and in incarcerating all residents who shared the same ethnic origin with them. It is a shameful victory of a power that has no decency, standards, or care for humanity.
The state media has shown Xi Jinping with a group of people who celebrated him by dancing and singing. Since the occupation of East Turkestan, the Chinese state has always hoped to see Uyghurs engaged in music and dance with no interest in politics. They also dreamed of seeing Uyghur Muslims who only pray but do not think and seek justice. That dream has not been realized, as it is incompatible with human nature. The Uyghur dancers around Xi Jinping are not reflective of the Uyghurs’ situation. They represent a scene that China wants the world to see and an expression of China’s unwavering colonial desire.
To understand this scene of dancing, one must read only two lines of dialog in a report by Radio Free Asia of some years ago. The reporter questioned a Kashgar resident:
Q: “How is the situation in Kashgar, especially the unity of Han settlers and Uyghurs?”
A: “The situation is normal. The unity of nationalities is wonderful because if we do not unite with the Han people, we will be imprisoned and shot.”
This is the real voice of the Uyghur people when they are given a path to express their will.
On the eve of Xi Jinping’s visit, in mid-June this year, “community corrections personnel” and Uyghurs suspected of participating in religious activities in some districts of Urumqi were transferred to several locations in southern Xinjiang for a month-long “legal education,” perhaps out of concerns for the safety of Xi Jinping.
Xi Jinping’s non-announcement and delayed reporting of his visit to “Xinjiang,” as well as the relocation of suspected Uyghurs from Urumqi, is an acknowledgment of his failures and that he has established peace in appearance only and not in essence. He has captured Uyghurs physically but not spiritually. Murderers cannot live in peace spiritually, regardless of their “power” and “success.”