05/03/2021, 14.18
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Chinese experts say 'repression' in Xinjiang is not 'genocide'

China’s Communist government has its faults in the war of words with the West over its treatment of the Uyghurs. Accusations of human rights violations in the region are based on speculation. Some call for dialogue between China and Western countries, but Beijing has imposed restrictions on a possible international investigation.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – No genocide is taking place in Xinjiang, this according to Chinese experts cited by the South China Morning Post.

The real problem, they believe, lies with China’s ethnic policies, which can go from one extreme to another, from too many concessions to Muslim minorities to the inflexible repression against them.

The country's leaders bear some responsibility in the war of words with the West over the treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities living in the autonomous region.

Yang Shu, former dean of the Central Asia Institute at Lanzhou University, argues that without direct eyewitness accounts, accusations of genocide and forced labour are based on speculation and unverified claims.

He stresses, however, that the authorities have failed to adequately explain that the policies adopted against terrorism and religious extremism are aimed at ensuring social stability.

But it's not just a question of transparency. Along with other colleagues, Yang is critical of the ruthless and cruel way in which government decisions are implemented in Xinjiang, saying that in some cases they have gone beyond their original intentions.

According to expert data, confirmed by the United Nations, Chinese authorities hold or have held more than a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz from Xinjiang in concentration camps.

Media reports have revealed the existence of labour camps in the region, where hundreds of thousands of people apparently are forcibly employed, especially in cotton harvesting.

Some independent researchers also claim that the Chinese government is conducting a local campaign of forced sterilisations to control the growth of the Uyghur ethnic population.

Chinese authorities have flatly denied the charges, calling them "fake news", claiming instead that the camps in Xinjiang are vocational centres, part of poverty reduction projects to fight against terrorism and separatism.

The official line is that there are no human rights violations in the region, and China’s majority ethnic Han population and the Turkic Muslim minority live in harmony.

The argument used by the Communist government and some scholars to dismiss the charge of genocide (the destruction of an ethnic group) is that Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang are growing demographically.

This stems from the fact that China’s ethnic minorities were not subject to the country’s "one child" policy.

For Yin Gang, a Middle Eastern affairs specialist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, if China and the West engaged in real dialogue and exchange of information, the Xinjiang issue would not be so controversial.

However, whilst the Chinese government says the region is open for visits from abroad, the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and various humanitarian organisations have asked for unfettered access to the province so far to no avail.

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