There really isn’t any mistaking the strategy here: The ethnic balance of southern Xinjiang is to be transformed through the state-aided resettlement of Han Chinese in the region. While there are token concessions to the idea of allowing Uighurs to retain their religion, the use of Turkic languages has been discouraged. China is attempting to deprive Uighurs of their ethnolinguistic identity, the very rudiments of their nationality. These efforts have unsurprisingly inspired intermittent riots and violence in recent years, which have in turn been used to justify the expansion of the re-education camps.
The most chilling aspect of this repression is the use of information technology. An incredible, Orwellian surveillance system is used to monitor the movements of Xinjiang’s people. The cameras are placed prominently throughout cities such as Kashgar and surrounding towns to remind people that they are being watched. Algorithms are deployed to facilitate the classification and selection of Uighurs for the camps.
It’s a tyranny that we have helped to enable. China’s prosperity and technological progress, generated in no small part by its ability to trade in such high volume with the United States, have empowered its government to do this. Our desire to keep trading with China obliges the president of the United States to remain silent about this barbarity.