Few Chinese officials are blushing at a damning leak about Xinjiang

Few Chinese officials are blushing at a damning leak about Xinjiang

  • The West should be thankful for China’s police state, runs the new riposte

China was this week confronted with documentary evidence that it has built a vast and cruel police state in its far-western region of Xinjiang. In what appears to be an extraordinary leak of official Chinese papers, the New York Times published secret speeches by President Xi Jinping urging that Muslims infected with the “virus” of extremism undergo “a period of painful, interventionary treatment”. The leak lays bare the cold-blooded bureaucracy required as China, starting in 2017, seized hundreds of thousands of Muslims, most of them from the Uighur minority, and locked them without trial in re-education camps for even modest acts of piety, from growing long beards to praying outside state-controlled mosques. The paperwork of repression includes a script to be used on youngsters whose parents are behind bars: “Treasure this chance for free education that the party and government has provided to eradicate erroneous thinking.”

Chinese officials have offered three contradictory responses. The government of Xinjiang called the report a “complete fabrication” cooked up by anti-China forces in the West who cannot bear to see their region succeed. A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry took a more cautious line. Rather than deny the report outright, he called it a “clumsy patchwork” that distorted “so-called internal documents” in order to smear China’s successful counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation policies. The third response offered by state media and some officials is strikingly different. It skates close to an admission that Xinjiang is indeed under iron-fisted rule, and that the world should be glad of it.