China Accuses U.S. of Funding Uyghur Terrorists in Xinjiang

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian gestures during a press briefing in Beijing on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. China on Monday lashed out at Washington over its withdrawal from the "Open Skies Treaty" with Russia, saying the move undermined military trust and transparency and imperiled future attempts at arms control. …
AP Photo/Liu Zheng

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the U.S. government on Wednesday of funding Uyghur terrorist attacks in China’s western Xinjiang territory.

The Paper, a Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper, asked Zhao at a press conference on Wednesday to comment on a conspiracy theory, fueled by leaks of an alleged video in which an FBI translator claimed that American forces were helping fuel Uyghur “terrorism” in Xinjiang. China claims that Xinjiang is home to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group that the U.S. removed from its terror list last year citing a lack of evidence that it exists.

“[T]he former FBI translator said in that interview, ‘a lot of these people [Uyghurs] are taken out [from Xinjiang] by the [Western] Gladio operatives … they are trained, they are armed and then they are sent back [to Xinjiang],'” Zhao said.

“Earlier my colleague played a video clip of remarks by Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to then-[U.S.] Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Ron Paul Institute in August 2018,” Zhao said elsewhere during the press briefing. He referred to Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who shared to Twitter on Wednesday a 2018 video clip allegedly of Wilkerson suggesting the U.S.’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) “would want to destabilize China” by creating unrest in Xinjiang.

“He [Wilkerson] said undisguisedly that ‘the third reason we [the U.S.] were there [in Afghanistan] is because there are 20 million Uyghurs [in Xinjiang]. The CIA would want to destabilize China and that would be the best way to do it, to foment unrest and to join with those Uyghurs in pushing the Han Chinese in Beijing from internal places rather than external,'” Zhao said.

“[T]hese two video clips stand as damning evidence of the aggressive and despicable conspiracy of U.S. anti-China forces to use the ‘lie of the century’ to disrupt Xinjiang to contain China,” Zhao concluded.

“[Sibel] Edmonds worked as a contractor for the FBI for six months until she was fired in March 2002. She later challenged her termination and identified herself as a whistle-blower, alleging intelligence cover-ups in the bureau,” the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on April 14.

“The [2015] Edmonds video has been shared by Chinese diplomats and state media on both domestic and international social media [in recent days],” the newspaper noted. “The official [CCP newspaper] People’s Daily posted it on Weibo [China’s version of Twitter] on Monday, and several Chinese embassies shared it on Twitter.”

Human rights organizations and Western governments, including the U.S., have accused the Chinese government of forcefully detaining 1-3 million Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim ethnic minorities, such as Kazakhs and Kyrgyz people, in Xinjiang since at least 2017. The U.S. and several other free states have described the campaign against the Uyghur people as a “genocide.”

China officially denies forcefully detaining Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, instead claiming it is shepherding them into mandatory “vocational training” designed to help Muslim minorities assimilate to the dominant Han Chinese culture and society and successfully enter the Chinese workforce. The CCP claims that many Muslim Uyghurs harbor “extremist” and “politically incorrect” thoughts and are in need of rehabilitation, which it provides through its “re-education” and Marxist “political training” centers.

Xinjiang is home to roughly 10 million Turkic-speaking Uyghurs. The frontier region has long been a hotbed of simmering ethnic tension between the ruling Han Chinese and predominantly Sunni Muslim Uyghurs. Clashes between the two ethnic groups sharply increased in 2009 following a series of violent interactions between Uyghurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang’s capital, Ürümqi, according to Amnesty International. Beijing responded to the rise in ethnic tension by initiating a crackdown on Xinjiang’s Uyghurs, citing a need to increase regional security.

Provincial CCP authorities in Xinjiang began detaining Uyghurs suspected of dissident or separatist behavior, now classified as illegal “extremist” activity punishable by jail time. The CCP’s security crackdown in Xinjiang escalated in 2017 when the Communist Party began to order the systematic detention of Uyghurs. Survivors and ex-employees of the detention camps say they have suffered or witnessed physical and sexual abuse, torture, slave labor, and forced sterilization at the state-run facilities.

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