China Promotes Xinjiang Sweatshops as Future of ‘Made in China’

Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun speaks during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

China on Thursday rejected accusations of human rights violations from the United States and other countries, insisting that the Muslims of Xinjiang province have emerged from their re-education camps as happy and productive citizens eager to work in Chinese factories.

“The United States and a few other countries, in their old habits, have made attempts to use human rights to interfere in China’s internal affairs, which China totally rejects,” Chinese representative Zhang Jun told a meeting of the U.N. Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee.

Zhang denounced criticism of China’s actions against the Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang and its behavior in Hong Kong as “wrongful acts of interfering in China’s internal affairs with the excuse of human rights and provoking confrontation at the United Nations.”

“There are someone from some countries who like criticizing developing countries and giving orders on human rights. China urges these countries to abandon hegemonism and power politics, stop all the wrong deeds that go against the trend of history,” he fumed.

“Some countries create troubles everywhere, plot color revolutions, seriously violate human rights of people of relevant countries, and show no remorse for the terrible human rights record of their own,” Zhang said, repeating the same Chinese propaganda infamously parroted by certain American basketball players during their recent trip to China. 

“Color revolutions” are a relatively recent addition to Beijing’s talking points. The Chinese use the term to describe regime-change insurrections fomented by hostile outside powers. They frequently describe the Hong Kong protest movement as a nascent “color revolution” covertly founded and encouraged by the United States.

China’s Xinhua news service on Wednesday boasted that “large-scale labor-intensive industries” are blossoming in Xinjiang province now that the Uyghurs have gotten their minds right:

The autonomous region, where GDP growth was once one of the slowest in China, is now on the fast track. Most notably, Xinjiang is expected to become a more important part of the “Made in China” value chain, which will allow it to benefit more from the preferential policies of the central government.

The West and some anti-China forces often smear China’s Xinjiang policy, but facts speak louder than words. Xinjiang’s unique location and preferential policies have attracted a large number of enterprises. That trend has helped a lot in facilitating the transformation and upgrading of local manufacturing industries. 

In 2018, profits made by Xinjiang’s large industrial enterprises grew 10 percent year-on-year, while the added value of strategic emerging industries rose by  13.2 percent and high-tech manufacturing soared by 33 percent, according to the government work report for Xinjiang. 

The Xinhua report boasted Xinjiang added 466,700 urban jobs so far in 2019, a 2.62 percent increase over 2018, and all sorts of “targets” are being met for moving people from impoverished rural areas to the cities, where everything from small businesses to high-tech manufacturing enterprises is “soaring.”

Xinhua predicted a “miracle in China and the world” for the re-educated Uyghurs, who are “likely to offer the Islamic world a development model.”

“Rumors about China’s crackdown on freedom of religious belief and violation of human rights in Xinjiang are doomed to be smashed in the face of reality,” the Chinese state media organ predicted.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Wednesday offered a hint as to how that process of “urbanization” in Xinjiang is being accomplished by noting that fully half of one Uyghur village has been marched off to the concentration camps, joining the roughly 1.5 million people imprisoned there.

“Reports suggest that authorities are detaining as many Uyghurs as possible in internment camps and jails regardless of their age, prior service to the ruling Communist Party, or the severity of the accusations against them—as part of a bid to satisfy ‘quotas’ ordered by the regional government,” RFA wrote.

Local officials acknowledged rural families are “experiencing difficulties carrying out their farm labor” with so many of their family members locked away in camps, but assured RFA that “assistance” is readily available from “work groups” staffed by “volunteers” largely comprised of university students on summer vacation.

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