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Killing Chicken Warning Monkey

Now with the trial and sentencing of Ilham Tohti over, the expected reverberations and shocks from Western Countries continues. It’s obvious Xinjiang officials and by implication central government in Beijing have decided on iron fist policy and no compromise. It remains to be seen whether it will work. Yet for me it is rather sad and with a sense of deja vu. For it very much reminds me of what’s happening in Israel today, iron fist and no compromise, and yes collective punishment. I always find it counterproductive and inhumane that Israeli’s demolishment of suspects’ family homes, and the confiscation of Mr. Tohti’s property affects his wife and children similarly. And the war in Gaza with civilian casualties, and the report that 40 rioters were killed, obviously orders were shoot to kill rather than wound.

When I was a child Xinjiang to me was a land shrouded in mystery, with beautiful women singing folk songs with angelic voices during national day celebrations. How did it come to pass after 65 years, instead of unity, we come to frequent killings on both sides? With the reaction from the West Chinese media provided video evidence of Mr. Tohti preaching separatism from his class room, yet why was him not fired from his teaching job in Minzo University in 2009? and why was not his web site removed then? I remember during the Democratic primary in 2004, Hillary Clinton was attacked by the liberals for voting yes on the Iraq War, while Obama had the luxury of not holding office and making one speech attacking the Iraq War. I tried to defend her by saying after 9/11, she being a senator from New York, she can’t afford not to vote yes, whatever her original intention. I think similar dynamic is at work here. After the massacre of innocents in Xinjiang, Mr. Tohti lost his protection in Beijing as no one can afford to appear weak in face of challenge.

During the early years of The People’s Republic there were frequent attempts by Mao to mold and change human nature, yet those movements were generally in China proper and bypassed Xinjiang. Due to military and border sensitivity, officials in Xinjiang preferred status quo. With official state religion as atheism, Islam was never challenged there. Large movement of people was forbidden and integration and intermarriage was discouraged. When there were disputes of Uighur peddlers with Han customers in major cities, authorities always have an appeasement policy of favoring Uighurs and paid them off and sent them away. It bred a sense of entitlements and resentments. With the oncoming of economic reform and capitalism of last 30 years, it’s inevitable the clash of cultures resulting violence. For capitalism with profit driven motive, acts as an universal solvent. Those isolated weak cultures crumbles under competition from dominant forces. Reaction in China is no different on push back from Jihadist Islam against modernity around the world. To Islam equal right for women is a threat totally unacceptable. The question is whether using Mr. Tohti as a sacrificial goat to paper over the failure and warning the monkeys will work. I suspect it will have no deterrent effects on the rabid hyena killers.

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  1. September 27th, 2014 at 16:22 | #1

    I am not writing to criticize you but I disagree with some of your observation which I believed only dealt with matter on the surface but neglect a much deeper analysis. If your primary source of so-called Uighur opression is from western press it is natural for you to come to this conclusion.

    You said that you felt sorry for Tohti’s family because his property was confiscated. You also remarked that preferential treatment was accorded to minority in China. However, don’t you know that for severe crimes in China involved confiscation of property? Are you suggesting that because of his minority status he should be exempted? Severe crimes such as murder, corruption, treason, drug trafficking, counterfeiting etc also carry the punishment of property confiscation.

    I don’t know where you get the information that large scale movement of people was forbidden and integration, inter marrying etc was discouraged? Mao’s own brother Zemin was killed in Xingjiang! However, it was precisely during Mao’s time that Xingjiang was developed, China’s nuclear weapon was tested in Xingjiang.

    During the Chinese civil war, Xingjiang switched over to the Communist side mainly because of help from Uighur Muslim leader like Burhan al-Shahidi.

    Tohti is also not a proverbial sacrificial lamb, he broke the law in China and should be punished. If anybody in the west were to tweet what he has in China he would be guilty as well. But I do agree to you questioning why he wasn’t stopped much earlier. Yes, this is certainly due to his minority status.

  2. N.M.Cheung
    September 28th, 2014 at 08:57 | #2

    @Ray
    I have no problem with disagreement or criticism. I was born in Shanghai in 1947 and stayed there until 1959. In China until economic reforms you need police travel document to move, so large population movement was restricted. Most Han Chinese from Xinjiang were demobilized soldiers and their families, and nuclear test sites by definition are unmanned areas. There were times during the 50s, various movements that encouraging students to move to border areas as patriotic, Xinjiang was considered a hardship post for cadres. Due to religious sensitivity, marriage between Han and Uighur is much smaller than between Han and other minorities. There are laws and there are laws. Israeli demolishment of family homes were based on laws passed during British mandate, and old Chinese Imperial laws treated treason as affecting 7 generations by blood relation. Officials are responsible for anything happening in their area, for example 7 local officials were demoted or suspended for the stampeding death of students in Kunming last week. So officials do not want to rock the boat. Unlike U.S. where Richard Dawkins and others advocate atheism and science. I don’t know the percentages of Uighurs that know Chinese language. It does reflect on the education system. It affect their access to higher education even with 20 points addition for their college entrance tests and most only attend Nationality University and study arts rather than science and politics. Chinese media blame those involved in rioting as because of Jihadist influence. We must ask why those poison weeds grow unless there is fertile ground for them.

  3. September 28th, 2014 at 17:52 | #4

    The issue of “fertile ground” is interesting. Why is China so much more prong to be meddled than the West? I am not just talking about Tibet and Xinjiang, but generally. See e.g., http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/11/23/jon-huntsmans-gonna-take-china-down-comments/ andhttp://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/02/24/u-s-ambassador-john-huntsman-caught-on-video-teased-by-chinese-at-jasmine-revolution-rally-at-wangfujing/…

    In some ways, China – being so big – will have more social fault lines that foreigners can take advantage. Also China is still currently weaker politically, militarily, socially, etc. than the West. But is that it? Or is there something more.

    I hope to write my view on it … soon…

  4. N.M.Cheung
    September 29th, 2014 at 04:38 | #5

    @Ray
    I understand totally the anti-terrorist campaign and thanks for the links. For the record I consider myself a Han chauvinist and consider the unity of China paramount. I just disagree with the verdict on Mr. Tohti and the strategy of bashing all dissent. Mr. Tohti may deserve to be expelled from the party and dismissed from his job, but certainly not life imprisonment from the evidences presented, and I do consider it counterproductive. As with those student leaders from TAM protest in 89, China didn’t pursue them actively and allowed them to migrate to Hong Kong and U.S. with one eye closed. In exile they pretty much became irrelevant soon.

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