Uyghurs – a response to Four Corners (prepared for P&I)
Begins: We hear much today about Xinjiang Uyghurs sent to prison-style camps and forced to learn Chinese. Four Corners devoted a special program to it.
I was once sent to an Australian camp to learn Chinese, at Pt. Cook near Melbourne.
Conditions were fairly severe. Eight hours a day, five days a week. Much memorisation. Constant exams. Weekends off but travel restricted.
No one complained, even though the standard we reached was much below that expected of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
They seem able to go directly into jobs and function in the language well. Being surrounded day and night by the language helps. But I guess that would be denounced as slavery by our non-language experience Oz critics
Chinese is a very difficult language. After a year we could barely scratch ourselves wth it
In Xinjiang there was a further problem. In the program we were told about a 2009 riot in Urumchi capital city with 200 defenseless citizens killed in cold blood.
Missing were the facts that the killers were all Uyghurs. The victims were all Han Chinese.
This was followed by similar incidents elsewhere in China. The Uyghurs were motivated by many factors – cultural differences, Han Chinese flooding into the province, and the inability of non Chinese speaking Uyghurs to get jobs in Chinese owned factories.
Jobs went to speakers of China’s national language, Mandarin.
Some Uyghurs were also motivated by roots deep in the East Turkestan liberation movement dating back to the thirties and designated as a terrorist movement by the US.
The movement had long sought the separation from China, by force if necessary.
Chinese authorities are not gentle in their crackdowns, as we saw in recent Covid lockdowns.
If they could imprison their own citizens for months on end to exterminate the Covid danger is it too uprising if they set out harshly to suppress all and any suspected hints of continued Uyghur crimes the wake the 2019 killings.
And by locking people up for extend periods they also had a chance to teach them Chinese, good Chinese, much better than what we learned at Pt. Cook.
Four Corners degraded itself by its choice of speakers.
None presented a contrary view. None of the Westerners seemed to know or speak Chinese. None seemed to have direct experience of Xinjiang, a land where most Western visitors claim enormous progress.
One exception could have been one Adrain Zenz, an Austrian, from the obscure, religion-oriented US Jamestown University which claims no involvement in Asian languages or studies.
Zenz is a favorite source of information about alleged Chinese genocide in Xinjiang for Western anti-China agencies.
Surely Four Corners can do better than this.