IT is clear there will be no let-up in the Western campaign to bring China down. When President Joe Biden announced to his US audience that “If we don’t get moving, they are going to eat our lunch,” he was not simply telling his American audience that the United States had to protect their lunch from Chinese diners, and to step up efforts to compete with China.
But stepping up is not so easy for the US, given its deep political divisions and weakened economy. Easier is pulling China down, and telling half truths and lies about China’s politics and socioeconomy. How China is robbing Americans of jobs. How China’s technology is pirated from the US. How Chinese academics and students in the US are espionage agents for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). How China’s development assistance are debt traps, and to bankrupt and enslave small countries?
The list of China’s “crimes” keeps multiplying. Even China’s sports and space programme success are twisted to provide anti-China propaganda. A paranoid and xenophobic campaign appears to be part of the new cold war strategy to counter the rise on the world stage of the first non-Western, non-Anglo Saxon nation since Japan. This new racist dimension of the cold war is one that needs calling out, and which the world should be concerned with.
Western strategy to pull down China?
Beginning with former US president, Donald Trump, and now with Biden, we see an intensification of military provocation; encirclement of China by QUAD; recruitment of European Union and Asian allies to apply economic and trade pressure; and a step up of policy actions to bring down the Chinese government.
In Xinjiang, the focus of Western megaphone diplomacy is to demonise and delegitimise the communist party. The highest ranking US officials parrot that China is committing “crimes against humanity” and engaged in “genocide” against the Uyghur community. That this charge has been refuted time and again by Islamic member countries of the United Nations (UN), and most recently by Michelle Bachelet, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, has not stopped this propaganda barrage and fixation.
Perhaps what China is doing in Xinjiang, with re-education camps and punitive measures against radical elements is wrong, indefensible and reprehensible. But the same standard of human rights and international norms applied to China needs to apply to all countries.
A non-partisan comparison of how the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other European nations – and this includes Asian countries – have treated their indigenous and cultural minority communities provides a better picture of which nations have engaged in genocide and human rights abuses.
It is undeniable that Chinese policy has its dark side. It is also undeniable that the Uygur community has made much progress. China’s economic data reveal that from the first national census in 1953 to the seventh one in 2020, Xinjiang’s population increased from 4.78 million to 25.85 million, with the Uygur population growing from
3.6 million to 11.62 million. The Uygur population growth rate is higher than that of other ethnic minorities and the Han majority population. Using the more holistic United Nation’s human development Index (HDI), the province’s HDI in 2019 was 0.732.
Xinjiang’s human development compares favourably with Assam state in India, which has not dissimilar ethnic conflict and cultural minority problems. Assam had a HDI of 0.614 in 2018. Last year Xinjiang’s economy grew 7% compared with Assam’s gross state domestic product, which for 2021–2022 recorded an increase of 4% over the previous year.
Ehnic and religious conflicts have been ongoing in India since independence. Meanwhile, India is constantly held up by the West as a model of good governance and democracy, which China’s communist and repressive government should emulate. However, unresolved sectarian conflict between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir and other parts of the country has led to allegations that Islamophobia is the norm in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party government.
An uncommon Western media report in the Los Angeles Times had this recently to say about the situation in India: “Fueled by Hindu nationalism, encouraged by authorities and carried out with impunity, oppression of Muslims has become so pervasive in India that experts said it is undermining the country’s standing as the world’s largest democracy, and raising doubts about its future as a secular state.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, have long fanned
anti-Muslim sentiment as part of a winning strategy to galvanise support from Hindus, who make up 80% of India’s 1.4 billion people.” See: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-02-16/india-religious-persecution.
Why the US and its allies are targeting Xinjiang (and Tibet and Hong Kong) and not other parts of the world is not because of any commitment to democracy and human rights or concern for cultural and political minority communities. They are sensationalising the cases of Ugyhur dissidents not for love of the Muslim community, the members of whom they have waged brutal wars against and killed several hundred thousand civilians in Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
A primary objective – one not disclosed or discussed by Western media – is to incite terrorism in Xinjiang, and plant the seeds of unrest and instability in China.
If successful, the outcome would adversely affect China domestically and internationally. For Western war hawks, exploiting the Islamic cause and using it as a trojan horse to bring down China is an acceptable strategy, despite the collateral damage to the region and global peace.
A key part of the new cold war is the reliance on the media and other
non-political agencies and organisations to pick on and bad mouth China. This is evident from the coverage of Western media, which tout their “independence, honesty and fairness” and how their reporting embraces “diversity and inclusivity”.
An examination of their daily coverage shows how obsessed they are with providing negative coverage of China, to the extent of excluding reporting on important issues and developments in the rest of the world, including their own home countries. Also complicit in tarnishing the Chinese government – but perhaps inadvertently – is the non-Western mass media, which relies on Western media networks for their daily news fare. The impact of the anti-China coverage is not simply in geo-politics and international relations. Flaunted or well concealed racist reporting affects nations and communities that are on the receiving end. This can be seen in the dramatic increase in the racial hate narratives spewed over social media and alarming incidence in ethnic hate crimes.
The situation in some US cities is that if you look Chinese – or Asian – you have to be prepared for random acts of racism - including violence. Whether the victim is from Hong Kong, a pro-CCP mainlander or a pro-Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan – or is not ethnically Chinese – does not matter to the perpetrators.
Wake-up call for Chinese and Asian diaspora
As Chinese and other Asian communities increasingly become victims of the West’s anti-China campaign, it is time that they stand up for their rights and concerns, and speak out.
In particular, ethnic Chinese – in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and elsewhere in the Chinese diaspora – need to draw a line against the Western anti-China campaign when it descends into lies, disinformation, propaganda and racist and sinophobic tropes.
The close to 50 million overseas Chinese outside mainland China have generally been apolitical, preferring to concentrate on their future in their adopted countries. They will have different and even opposed views on Xinjiang, Taiwan and the CCP.
However, now is the time, especially for the younger generation less aware of Chinese history and susceptible to propaganda from the West, to close ranks, step out of their non-political bubble and push back against those intent on instigating a new racist cold war.
Lim Teck Ghee’s Another Take is aimed at demystifying social orthodoxy. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.