What would happen if the Israelis were keeping a close eye on every Palestinian within Israel’s borders and that for at least five years had been rounding up Palestinian men and women by the thousands and shipping them off to “re-education” or concentration camps without trials?
The international community and media would go nuts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be roundly denounced by one and all, the U.S. Congress would enact sanctions, Middle Eastern U.N. representatives would denounce Israel as totalitarian anti-Muslim and illegitimate, and there would be demands that Mr. Netanyahu be arrested as a racist and tried by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Universities and pension funds would face demands that they “divest” themselves of any investments in Israel and there would be demonstration or even riots in many Arab cities.
Of course, Israel has never launched or even contemplated such an attack on minorities within its borders, but China is doing just that. China is actively persecuting and imprisoning and terrorizing millions of Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of northwest China.
On specific orders from Communist Party General Secretary for Life Xi Jinping in Beijing, the regional government has established hundreds of “re-education” camps to turn Uyghurs into “good” Chinese. The camps and the region are overseen by a Communist hardliner sent there from Tibet, where he had worked diligently to eradicate the culture of that region. According to multiple reports from many sources and satellite photos of the barbed-wire enclosed facilities, the camps utilize torture to, as Beijing contends, “counter extremism” and “promote sinicization.” In practice, this means detainees are forced to speak Mandarin, denounce their religion, study Communist texts for hours each day and gather to repeatedly chant “Long Live Xi Jinping” and sing the Communist national anthem.
Details of what goes on received wide public attention when hundreds of pages of manuals and memos were leaked last month to The New York Times, but the international community has known about these Communist concentration camps for years. Human rights groups and some countries have even complained to Beijing, the United Nations and the international community to no avail. Beijing has continually denied the existence of the camps on one hand while at the same time claiming they are necessary to fight terrorism. Besides, they remind their critics, what goes on in China is nobody’s business but theirs, and the world should mind its own business.
Most countries have muted their criticism of what amounts to a humanitarian crisis in an effort to avoid “offending” Beijing. Earlier this year, when 23 U.N. ambassadors condemned China’s wholesale violations of human rights represented by the campaign to essentially eradicate the Uyghur culture, ambassadors from 54 other nations, including Russia, North Korea and most Middle Eastern Arab nations, issued a letter denouncing such effrontery and commending China for what they characterized as Beijing’s “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.”
Beijing’s money, power and trade are as significant as Beijing’s willingness to punish any nation or entity critical of its policies, and reward those that accept or even defend behavior and practices that would never be tolerated from other nations.
While American businessmen and politicians are quick to denounce sanctions and tariffs that might upset business as usual with China, most have been silent or circumspect about criticizing China’s abuse of her own citizens. This has been most evident in the muted response of many to the “crackdown” on Hong Kong and the complicity of American business as Beijing assembles a high-tech surveillance state that threatens to finally make George Orwell’s “Brave New World” a reality.
Democratic presidential wannabe Michael Bloomberg is both a businessman and a politician, and has gone even further than other corporate leaders or the National Basketball Association in kowtowing to Beijing. Appearing on PBS’ “Firing Line,” the former New York City mayor rejected the very idea that the Chinese dictator is a dictator, arguing that Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party are responsive to the wants and needs of the Chinese people.
“Xi Jinping is not a dictator,” Mr. Bloomberg responded when Margaret Hoover, his “Firing Line” interviewer, described the Chinese ruler as such. “… he has to satisfy his constituents or he’s not going to survive.” “He’s not a dictator?” Ms. Hoover shot back. “No,” said Mr. Bloomberg, “he has a constituency to answer to … The Communist Party wants to stay in power in China and they listen to the public.”
One remembers President Obama whimsically suggesting that he wished that as president he had the power that Beijing’s Communist rulers have to remake society without worrying about the checks and balances that are an integral part of the American system. Today’s progressives share the desire to act on behalf of “the people” without bothering about elections or procuring their support. That doesn’t seem to bother people like Mr. Bloomberg, but it should scare the heck out of the rest of us.
• David A. Keene is an editor at large for The Washington Times.
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