Perhaps naively, I’m still in shock at those comments the other day on the situation in the Chinese province of Xinjiang from National Party foreign affairs spokesman, former senior minister, Todd McClay.
“Abuses of human rights are a concern wherever they occur,” says National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay, “however, the existence and purpose of vocational training centres is a domestic matter for the Chinese Government.”
Perhaps the million of so spies forced into Uighur households should, in Mr McClay’s reading, best be described as intensive case management of needy families?
I’d come to take for granted that our members of Parliament – all sides – pretty much knew the evil the regime was up to at home and abroad, but preferred to look the other way, keep quiet, and get along (careers to advance, Beijing to buddy up to). I didn’t suppose that senior politicians – on the public payroll, not that of Beijing-affiliated entities (that’s for too many retired politicians, here and abroad) – would be so shameless as to literally run PRC regime propaganda for them.
But who knows. Perhaps Todd McClay really does believe the regime narrative? In which case, there was a useful little exercise by a Dutch academic popped into my inbox yesterday morning, courtesy of the US think-tank the Jamestown Foundation, using fiscal transparency, PRC version, to illustrate what is going on. I had no idea there was such transparency in China.
In August 2018, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed its concern at reports the PRC had detained as many as a million members of Muslim ethnic minorities in extrajudicial re-education camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). At the same meeting, the PRC flatly denied the existence of “re-education camps”, with United Front Work Department official Hu Lianhe arguing that “criminals involved only in minor offenses” are assigned to “vocational education and employment training centers to acquire employment skills and legal knowledge” (China Daily, August 14).
Perhaps that was what Todd McClay had been reading?
But the PRC government’s own budgets appear to contradict these assertions. Xinjiang’s budget figures do not reflect increased spending on vocational education in the XUAR as the region ramped up camp construction; nor do they reflect an increase in criminal cases handled by courts and prosecutors. Rather, they reflect patterns of spending consistent with the construction and operation of highly secure political re-education camps designed to imprison hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs with minimal due process.
It is tempting to reproduce some of his tables – I like tables but they might be detail too far. But here are his summary observations from the Xinjiang government budget data
This article supports this conclusion through examination of official PRC budgetary figures, analyzing spending breakdowns at the regional, prefectural, and county levels to produce findings of unprecedented granularity. Among its most striking conclusions:
- Spending on budget items that explain nearly all security-related facility construction rose by nearly RMB 20 billion (or 213 percent) in 2017
- Vocational spending in Xinjiang actually decreased from 2016 to 2017, as widespread camp construction began.
- Instead, camp construction has largely been funded by the same authorities that oversaw the recently-abolished system for re-education through labor.
- Spending on prisons doubled between 2016 and 2017, while spending on the formal prosecution of criminal suspects stagnated.
- Expenditures on detention centers in counties with large concentrations of ethnic minorities quadrupled, indicating that re-education is not the only form of mass detainment in the XUAR.
The region’s so-called “vocational training” is arguably not substantially different from the former re-education through labor system, which was abolished because the PRC government deemed it inappropriate for a modern society governed by the rule of law (Zenz, September 6).
Moreover, Xinjiang’s so-called “vocational training” campaign has not actually improved employment outcomes among the campaign’s target population. Official reports note that in 2017, 58,500 “poor persons” found employment, 17 percent more than planned, but not a large increase from the 57,800 in 2016 or the 57,900 in 2015. The same figure for the first three quarters of 2018 was 38,800, equivalent to only 51,730 per year . This data provides a powerful official counternarrative to what Xinjiang’s governor is claiming. Neither the 2017 nor the 2018 XUAR employment reports refer to the purportedly successful “vocational training centers”.
Before he concludes
These facts do not support the notion of a large campaign to improve vocational skills. Rather, the mass disappearances of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, beginning in early 2017, almost certainly resulted in their imprisonment in de facto political re-education institutions administered by public security or justice system authorities. It is safe to assume that in 2017, billions of renminbi were spent on these highly secure facilities, where individuals undergoing “training” are involuntarily detained for indeterminate time periods. Furthermore, budget figures indicate that it is unlikely that many of the so-called “criminals involved only in minor offenses” underwent formal trials. It is therefore entirely inaccurate to label them “criminals”. Often, their only “offense” is being Muslim.
Whatever “employment training” these facilities provide is, evidently, not administered or paid for by the vocational education system. This would explain why teacher recruitment notices for the newly constructed re-education system do not require tertiary degrees or relevant skills, in stark contrast to genuine vocational education (Zenz, September 6).
The actual employment benefit of the camps’ re-education “training” is questionable. Quite the contrary: the real goal of Xinjiang’s “skills training” campaign appears to be political indoctrination and intimidation.
In a way it is sickening to even have to write this bloodless stuff. Every honest and decent person with the slightest interest knows what this campaign is about – and it isn’t better job opportunities. But careful work like that of Adrian Zenz helps remove any sort of fig leaf that people like Todd McClay might try to use for cover.
And what of those million spies forced on Uighur households? I’d urge you to read the full story, which ends with this chilling reflection
The tyranny that is being realized in Northwest China pits groups of Chinese citizens against each other in a totalitarian process that seeks to dominate every aspect of life. It calls Han “relatives” into coercive relations with their Uighur and Kazakh hosts, producing an epidemic of individualized isolation and loneliness as families, friends, and communities are pulled apart. As new levels of unfreedom are introduced, the project produces new standards of what counts as normal and banal. The “relatives” I spoke to, who did the state’s work of tearing families apart and sending them into the camp system, saw themselves as simply “doing their jobs.”
I believed them. For the most part, they simply did not seem to have thought about the horror they were enacting. No free press was available to them. The majority of the people I interviewed simply did not know or believe that the reeducation camps function as a Chinese-specific form of concentration camps where beatings and psychological torture are common, or that Uighurs and other minorities tended to view being sent to the camps as a form of punishment. Only one of the 10 Han people from Xinjiang I interviewed believed that the camps were functioning as prisons for people who were guilty of simply being in the wrong religious and ethnic categories. It is also important to remember when writing about Han civilian participation in the mass detention of Muslim minorities, as David Brophy and others have noted, that Han civilians who resist state policies toward Uighurs put themselves in serious danger. As one of my Han friends from Xinjiang told me, in this part of the world the phrase “where there is oppression” is met not with the phrase “there will be resistance,” but rather, “there will be submission.” Given the totalitarian politics of the Xinjiang police state, Han civilians in Xinjiang often appear to feel as though they have no choice but to participate in the state-directed oppression of Muslim minorities.
Citizens of totalitarian states are nearly always compelled to act in ways that deny their ethical obligations. In order for a grass-roots politics of Han civilian refusal of Chinese state oppression of Muslims to even be imaginable, what is taking place in Northwest China needs first to be accurately described. As Hannah Arendt observed decades ago, systems like this one work in part because those who participate in them are not permitted to think about what they are doing. Because they are not permitted to think about it, they are not able to fully imagine what life is like from the position of those whose lives they are destroying.
Perhaps Todd McClay thinks this is all made up too? If so, I can only do that rare thing and urge him to read the strident ultra-nationalist spinoff of the People’s Daily, the Global Times, where the story a couple of days ago was.
1.1 million civil servants in Xinjiang pair up with ethnic minority residents to improve unity
Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has implemented the pairing and assistance program between officials and the ethnic minority citizens to promote communication and interaction among different ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
Until September 2018, some 1.1 million civil servants have paired up with more than 1.69 million ethnic minority citizens, especially village residents, People’s Daily reported on Wednesday.
The report said that various administrative departments, enterprises from the central government and military departments, including the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and Xinjiang Armed Police Corps, have made over 49 million visits to local residents. The number of activities themed “ethnics unite as a family,” held by these departments, reached more than 11 million.
“The pairing and assistance program has been implemented for two years, which is a successful practice for Xinjiang,” Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Besides promoting the unity of different ethnics in Xinjiang, Zhu noted that the program is beneficial to both the masses and civil servants in Xinjiang, as it helps officials get close to the grassroots level of Xinjiang society, bringing advanced technology and views to rural districts, which can solve their life difficulties and develop the productivity.
“It can also help officials of Xinjiang to improve their serving conscious and capabilities,” he added.
Zhu pointed out that the program should be insisted for a long time in accordance with the practical need.
The program began from October 16 in 2016, encouraging civil servants to interact actively with the masses in Xinjiang through various methods like pairing and regarding as relatives.
It is a sickening level of repression, intimidation, destruction of families, of faith, or cultures, and so on. And that is before one gets onto the bird-like spy drones (which initially sounded a bit fanciful, but the story is fron a regime-sympathising Hong Kong newspaper) the movement restrictions, the forced organ transplants and so on.
That’s unambiguously sickening. But so is senior elected politicians in a free Western state – who know better – trying to minimise evil, spin the regime propaganda, and provide cover for one of the worst regimes on the planet. Without any legitimate excuse whatsoever.
34 thoughts on “Some reading for Todd McClay”
So it’s perfectly acceptable for the Chinese government to use agents to fund our political parties, to control CCTV here and have the United Front active but our politicians have such weak backbones they won’t even call out concentration camps.
This is why I voted labour. They’re not great but they’re definitely less corrupted than National. Disgusting.
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I guess NZ politicians learned a lesson when they took a stand at the UN and voted for Israel to stop taking Palestinian land and the immediate response from Israel was to close down their embassy in NZ, and just stopped short of declaring war with NZ.
You exaggerate, quite materially. But I’m not getting into the rights and wrongs of Israel and the Palestinians here.
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“Israel withdrew its ambassador from New Zealand and barred our ambassador from their country after New Zealand co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel on Christmas Eve.If you continue to promote this resolution from our point of view it will be a declaration of war. It will rupture the relations and there will be consequences.”
What the Han Chinese government is doing there isn’t indoctrination, it’s ethnic cleansing and the next step will be genocide.
New Zealanders are a small population. We should by watching this with caution.
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But when 16 peaceful protestors in Palestine gets killed as part of Israels celebration when the Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem that is considered ok because they screamed too loudly when protesting?
So it is not genocide when 2 million palestinians get squeezed into tiny encampments from land that they have lived in for thousands of years?
Your comments on this have the feel of deliberate distraction, combined with (not particularly compelling) what-aboutism. Is there a connection to how NZ politicians respond to systematic and egregious abuses by the PRC, at home, abroad, and here?
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Not a distraction. Just providing a fair comparative to your one sided agenda.
Last I noticed, our politicians had no problem criticising Israel
If there is a relevant comparator, that is the one that strikes me. Israel has its fault, but is a fairly open robust democracy. We should speak out when other countries overstep, whether free democracies, or regimes such as the PRC.
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Why do you care when you mock people who can’t afford a home and boast about huge asset inflation.
They have a very high birth rate (like blowing up a balloon)
Yet these same politicians cry for people to take responsibility. Yet they are happy to abase not only themselves, but the whole country due to their positions.
The way they then take on paid positions from Chinese based companies just shows the only thing they are interested in is themselves.
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Keep your friends close but keep your enemies even closer. Don Brash seems particularly protective of Australian banks monopoly profits even though he is being paid by a Chinese bank.
Or sell houses to them at suspiciously high prices AKA “Sir” John Key
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I will be emailing links to this article to several MPs and asking for their opinions.
BA, my thoughts too and this also gives a good reason for me to give yet another plug for ‘CITIZEN ONLY’ votes. Get Andrew Little on to it. I also noted the article in Newsroom quoting the
based on Simon Chapple innformation
Thanks I hadn’t read that article and it contains good content. The comment about MMP has dented my enthusiasm for it – I will need time to think about it again. Pardon my habit of quoting a chunk from the report.
“” “The move to MMP has coincided with the growth of identity politics, which has a tendency to formalise and reify the fracture lines of identity groups as the basis for political action, rather than to break down group barriers, emphasise a common humanity and seek shared ground.” “”
The article is also relevant to NZ’s attitude to China.
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This is actually really disturbing. I can’t actually see our politicians doing anything about this interference.
Oh our open borders friend is at it again.
The “stress on the relationship between Australia and New Zealand” can be laid fairly and squarley on a small group who persuaded Malcolm Fraser to adopt multiculturalism Essentially the demographics are changing as indians and Chinese flood in to Eastern Australia. The same is happening to politics in the US (and here – no doubt) but Spoonley wouldn’t own that one?
As Haidt says universities must choose between truth and social justice. Otherwise they will have academics claiming we are bringing in migrants because we have this big demographic bulge (as Katherine Ryan suggested was a possible cause for rapid demographic change in Auckland; to which Spoonley said “Hmmm” as a possible answer).
Todd Mcclay is unfortunately part of the political nobility. Attached to the corporate aristocracy.
Unfortunately I see democracy being replaced globally with totalitarian global governance. let’s throw in 100 % Digital currency and universal basic income issued by central banks with the only currency allowed by law.
There seems to be close links between corporates and government. You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.
Paying elderly Chinese parents with no english superannuation contradicts spoonley saying we need migrants to pay our retirement.
My own belief is immigration is so high due to all the rampant credit creation by the banking system. It’s interesting because studies show communities struggle to absorb large numbers from their own culture, let alone those from non anglo backgrounds.
Hendo & Sorethumb: immigration has no relevence to this issue.
Chosen at random the fraction of the population who are immigrants is NZ 23%; Finland 6%; Poland 2% but I would hope none of those countries would be so craven as to appease China over its current policy of repressing the large ethnic Muslim population of their Xinjiang province.
We can have sympathy with the Chinese authorities who have had to deal with terrorist attacks but after 70 years of rule by the same political party the CCP should be asking how the situation has arisen that these ethnic minorities should feel a need to rebel particularly now when China has experienced rapid economic growth.
Their reaction involving the incarceration of a tenth of the population plus over a million Han Chinese communist officials inviting themselves into Muslim households is excessive and the policy is one of deliberate ethnic destruction and cultural genocide.
We can chose to either protest about or acquiesce to their heavy handed repression. What we must never do is provide the CCP least support in this inhuman policy.
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Which is why Bob I can’t understand the anti American protests young liberals and greenies organize in nz but stay silent on China.
I’m not sure young kiwis are moaists but rather it’s socially fashionable to be anti anglophone capitalism.
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One of New Zealand’s fastest growing rural districts is seeing a significant increase in migrants.
The council is taking measures to make the migrants who move to the district more comfortable.
This week Ashburton District Council unveiled new language interpretation resources for residents and this morning, a cultural-themed garden is being officially opened in the town’s domain.
It looks like rural towns are very keen to attract more migrants.
Lack of understanding is clearly evident in regards to Islam in reference to Chinese policy and the so called palestinians (a KGB invented applied name) . First Islam (writings of the Koran and Hadiths) clearly and repeatedly state that non-Muslims (house of war; Islam is always at war with non-Muslims) have either two or three options depending if they are people of the book (Jews and Christians) or polytheists: convert to Islam or be killed or if people of the book live in a slave like submission. So China has a terrible record for freedom of religion but they are correct in understanding the Islamic threat unlike the dhimmis in the west.
Get great stuff has no idea about Hamas or Islam. The war against Israel is simply jihad . Gaza was going to be a haven of peace according to PLO lies. Directly Israel in 2005 gave them autonomy they voted in Hamas and have waged jihad ever since. The Middle East forum translates PLO tv and this will educate you on Islam and its teachings.
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I just brought up the 2 million Palestians as a comparative with the Uyghurs because I can sort of understand why Muslims need to be contained whether it is in the middle east or in China. Of course I think that Israel has taken a step too far in the violence that we all see but ignore because they are a democratic government. If China has shot and killed 16 Uygurs in celebration then I would expect our government to protest. But so far they have managed to re-educate which is a much more humane containment strategy than a shoot to kill containment strategy.
I have a long time friend who is a Sri Lankan Muslim, now in Australia previously in NZ, he is your usual professional, diligent, hardworking and career oriented family man. I would have thought that he would have felt pain and sorrow and condemn the 7/11 attack on the US twin towers but I was shocked when he laughed and cheered. It opened my eyes how easily a Muslim can be radicalised.
Yesterday, in Melbourne shows that Muslims are easily radicalised.
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Todd McClay and GGS claim it is re-education. The links in the article give clear proof using Chinese official data that they have reduced the number of teachers they are employing and massively increased the number of secure facilities for holding prisoners. So it cannot be re-education.
How many have died while enduring forced brain-washing we do not know and it is unlikely to ever be released by the Chinese authorities but simply deaths by natural causes will be large given the large number of elderly being held; certainly more than GGS’s 16.
Dan Bidois, my local MP (national) found the time to discover my phone number and call me before 9am to ask me about my email that contained a link to this article. I was impressed by his willingness to listen and disappointed by my ability to explain. The best I could do was to tell him that repeating Chinese claims that this is re-education is the equivalent of repeating the ‘Joy through work’ slogan at the entrance of Auschwitz. Mr Bidois said he woud take up my concerns with Mr McClay.
I don’t like the basis of Muslim beliefs but then I don’t like the basis of Christianity or the Jewish faith either. However there is no morality in condemning a people for holding a religious belief. The argument that we should ignore repression of Uyghurs is equivalent to acquiescing to the persecution of the Jews by Hitler.
Please write to your MPs; we are lucky to be living in a democracy.
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Thanks for letting us know about Bidois’s positive response. The pessimist in me says that he is new to Parliament and is likely to soon learn to get in line, but pessimism isn’t always warranted.
He never stated he agreed with you and I; he carefully listened without expressing any opinion. However making the effort to phone was impressive.
Just checking Wikipedia – Dan Bidois has an interesting background. His two weeks of butchery apprenticeship aged 15 and his Fulbright scholarship impress me more than his career as an economist. I would be most interested in his opinion as to why Maori leave school early. Clearly a young politician to watch. My guess is he joined the National party because it is easier to shine there.
Pity he will not get my vote until Jian Yang either leaves the National party or expresses any informed opinion about the contraversial policies of the Chinese Communist Party of which he was a member. A brief opinion about repression in Tibet and Xinjiang provinces, organ harvesting of Falun Gong members, ignoring arbitration about the Spratly Islands. I am sure the National party could find a Taiwanese Chinese to replace Jian Yang.
Indeed (I was only expressing positivity about him expressing a willingness to pass on your concerns to Todd McClay. A worse MP would have tried to defend him, play up the importance of China to us, or simply not made the effort of getting in touch at all).
So our newest kiwis need interpret facilities to integrate. oookkkayyy.
China says no country should try to obstruct its Pacific ‘friendship’