Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Sanctions on China over Uighurs: Cause & Effect


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Uighurs

Mains level : Uighur's genocide by PRC

In a coordinated move, many countries imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang province.

The Uighurs

  • Xinjiang has a large number of Uighurs, Muslims of Turkic descent.
  • Over the past few decades, more and more Han Chinese has settled in Xinjiang, which saw violent clashes between them and the Uighurs.

The sanctions have come after a meeting between the US and Chinese officials in Alaska last week, in what Washington described as “tough and direct talks”.

This was a “Tu-Tu, Mai-Mai” conservation if you had seen the news!

Sanctions on China

  • The European Union, the US, Britain, and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese Officials.
  • Australia and New Zealand issued a joint statement welcoming the Western action, adding they were concerned about reports of abuses from Xinjiang.
  • China on the other hand has consistently denied all reports of atrocities against Uighurs, maintaining it is only “deradicalising” elements of its population in the interests of security.

Retaliation by China

  • Those sanctioned by China include five Members of the European Parliament and the Political and Security Committee, the EU’s main foreign policy decision-making body, among others.
  • China also summoned the EU ambassador and the UK ambassador to lodge “solemn protests”.

Why these sanctions are crucial?

  • This is the first time the EU has imposed sanctions on China since an arms embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. That is still in place.
  • Although the EU sanctions are not very damaging, they show a hardening of stance against its largest trading partner.
  • Also significant is that the Western powers moved together, in what is being seen as a result of the US push to deal with China along with its allies.

Nations that claim to be defenders of the faith or self-proclaimed Caliphates are silent on the persecution of Uighurs! They perceived the abrogation of Art. 370 as a doomsday event! This is height of hypocrisy!

Reasons behind: Crackdown on Uighurs

  • China is accused of putting over a million people in internment camps to “de-Muslimise” them and make them integrate better in the Communist country.
  • Allegations are that these people have been forced to leave behind their occupations, properties and families, to stay at the camps.
  • Survivors, human rights organisations, and governments of other countries have alleged physical, psychological and sexual torture.
  • People can be sent to the camps for showing any signs of “extremism” — sporting beards, fasting during Ramzan, dressing differently from the majority, sending Eid greetings, praying “too often” etc.

The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture because it seeks to turn other ideas – uncertainty, progress, change – into crimes.

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