With the recent media coverage surrounding China's alleged re-education camps, many Americans are having a knee-jerk reaction, both pro and con, to the claims by Western MSM outlets regarding the nature of the Chinese police state in Xinjiang.
Is China really operating a network of concentration camps or is it really just arresting terrorists and trying to get a handle on the growing terrorist threat in the province? Is it really providing "vocational" training or is it attempting to push state indoctrination into the minds of an entire ethnic group?
For those Americans who see China as their country's greatest threat, bent on destroying America's way of life, the answer is clear – the re-education camps are real and they contain a million human beings who were only guilty of being Uyghur ethnic minorities. To those individuals who see China as an honorable opponent of American imperialism, the Asian giant is doing nothing but defending itself from foreign-backed terrorism through means of education.
It is well-known that anything coming from the Western mainstream press is propaganda. It is also well-known that China is nothing if not a violator of human rights that is willing to enact any policy in order to push its own geopolitical or political agenda. Both the American press and the Chinese government are incessant propagandists attempting to push their own agendas forward. So, with all this in mind, how are we to know what is happening and for what reasons?
The fact is that there are more issues than the simple ones presented by either actor – China or the United States – when it comes to this issue.
The Claims: China's Internment Camps
In September of 2018, a United Nations "watchdog committee" accused China of holding over a million Uighurs and Muslim minorities in political "re-education" camps located in the countries' Western Xinjiang region.
The committee in question, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, published its findings on China as well as other countries during the course of its latest session that took place in August. The eighteen committee participants who made up the committee claim to have received "numerous credible reports of widespread torture and ill-treatment in China." The cruel treatment, according to member Nicolas Marugan, is directed at Uighurs, Tibetans, and "other ethnic minorities as well as political protesters and human rights defenders."
"The committee has been alarmed by numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and often for long periods without being charged or tried under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism. The Committee regrets that there is no official data on how many people are in long-term detention," Marugan said.
The committee claims that the camps contain from "tens of thousands to upwards of a million" people and that even "non-threatening expressions of Muslim ethno-religious culture like daily greetings" are grounds enough to find an individual locked away.