Criticism of China about Uyghurs will lead to Bhutan-style deportation?

A bleak thought for the first day of winter…

Whenever I posted a photo of some amazing new piece of Chinese infrastructure, e.g., the Suzhou metro or part of the 24,000-mile high-speed rail system (California will catch up soon!), American friends would predictably respond with a complaint about the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghurs in response to an ongoing conflict.

(My American Facebook friends who’ve never been to China throw rocks at the sheep-like Chinese for following the party line, but they respond to virtually any mention of China in nearly identical and predictable ways: (a) point out that the government there is “authoritarian”; (b) “what about the Uyghurs?”; (c) “what about Hong Kong?”)

The same friends who criticize China regularly celebrate Bhutan, virtuously carbon negative (CNN) and using the correct yardstick (“meterstick”) of Gross National Happiness. That Bhutan deported one sixth of its population in the 1990s is apparently forgotten or not relevant.

Muslims are only 1.8 percent of China’s population (CIA). The Chinese government could reasonably infer that if the Bhutanese can be warmly appreciated by the global righteous after expelling a minority religious group that was 16-30 percent of its population (estimates vary), instead of continuing this draining fight it would make more sense to pay nearby Muslim-majority countries to take them and/or have an India-Pakistan-style split in which part of western China was given away.

In other words, could Western say-gooders concentrating on this theme actually end up harming the Uyghurs whom they purport to be helping?

(Separately, we are informed by our media that 1-1.5 million people are being detained in camps (example below). Ghoulish tech question: wouldn’t camps big enough to house this many people be easy to spot via satellite imagery? The U.S. prison gulag is easily spotted from space. It is easy to find articles (example; example 2) showing one or two camps, but not a comprehensive census. In the age of satellite imagery, why are the purported Chinese concentration camps the subject of speculation?)


  • “1.5 million Muslims could be detained in China’s Xinjiang: academic” (Reuters): A leading researcher on China’s ethnic policies said on Wednesday that an estimated 1.5 million Uighurs and other Muslims could be held in so-called re-education centers in Xinjiang region, up from his earlier figure of 1 million. … “Although it is speculative it seems appropriate to estimate that up to 1.5 million ethnic minorities – equivalent to just under 1 in 6 adult members of a predominantly Muslim minority group in Xinjiang – are or have been interned in any of these detention, internment and re-education facilities, excluding formal prisons,” Zenz said at an event organized by the U.S. mission in Geneva, home of United Nations human rights bodies.
  • U.S. incarceration rate (we are, sadly, #1)

4 thoughts on “Criticism of China about Uyghurs will lead to Bhutan-style deportation?

  1. Q: Could Western say/do-gooders concentrating on foreign X actually end up harming X?

    A: Yes for all X, more often than not.

    Ignorance, self-interest, and malevolence plague these say/do-gooders.

    Let them be mindful of the beam in their own eye and mind their own business. More often than not, things will be the better for it (and we’ll be spared a lot of wasted time and effort).

  2. I’m very cynical (or maybe just exhausted). And I don’t work for the State Department, so this is an outsider’s cynical (exhausted) perspective. Frankly it’s been amazing that anyone in America has caught on to it at all. Pompeo did make a halfhearted attempt to talk about it, but so far as I know he presented no satellite imagery to back up his case with the imprimatur of the State Department, as part of any coherent strategy to confront the Chinese with urgency.

    It’s certainly within our technical capability, but try to get someone in our government to make a sustained push for it at the highest levels and get back to me in a few years. I suppose if we photographed rivers of blood flowing out of detention centers and they appeared on Google Earth then maybe someone would raise the issue seriously, tell them to clean it up so it doesn’t look quite so bad when they harvest the organs, etc. In the meantime, the Chinese government thinks they’re a threat to their social harmony, we complain a little, go on NPR, virtue signal, etc.

    It’s hard enough to get *Americans* who have been detained in China released! And we also don’t care about human rights abuses if our economic interests are being served – except as an afterthought. For for example, for many years, the United States was shipping its recyclables to China in enormous quantities so that slave labor could work separating it and virtue signalling people could feel good about their curbside pickup here in the United States. Nobody in America even cared about that until the Chinese stopped buying so much of our junk, recycling firms had no place to put it, a few towns stopped picking it up, etc., and we had to wonder what all those slave laborers were doing instead.

    It similarly doesn’t seem to be much of a priority for the U.S. Government to further incense the Chinese when the Administration and our markets are banking so heavily on a quieter storm in trade and on many other issues. We don’t have much leverage with the Uighurs, or the Christians. It seems they basically laugh at the United Nations on this stuff.

    • The screams of the millions aren’t heard, nobody bears witness to their suffering, except in passing, small numbers of people of conscience, and people are crushed out of existence on a regular basis. Things keep running and more people are crushed out of existence. Xi Jinping has the absolute authority to run the country according to his wishes and we’re going to do precisely zero to change that.

      I don’t think your say-gooder friends will make much difference one way or the other in China’s actions, or North Korea’s. Every once in a while one or two people escape, some desperate creature manages to scurry across the border at the DMZ with a load of parasites in their intestines after being shot at 40 times:

      “Everyone was hungry, even the soldiers,” he said. “The UN is sending rice and fertilizer and it all goes to the ranking officials under (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un. There are many soldiers who also die from disease because they’re not given medical treatment.”

      Yawn. Forgotten. And yes, Bhutan’s actions were largely forgotten, except by a handful of people whose thankless job it is to try keeping track of such things.

      “So much oppression, can’t keep track of it no more.” – Bob Dylan, “Change My Way of Thinking” – Slow Train Coming, 1979. There aren’t any studio tracks from Slow Train Coming on YouTube, which is a shame.

  3. The Uyghurs, the Kurds, Ukranian democracy, and the Tibetans are all well funded geopolitical psyops. When exactly leftists became CIA loyalists, rather than skeptics, I can’t quite figure out. Seems ultra recent. Like, many of these same people had some level of distrust over foreign policy under Obama. Now apparently if you aren’t towing the CIA line you’re a traitor.

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