Pleasing China, appeasing at home


This report from the UK think tank The Foreign Policy Centre looks at Central Asia and the Xinjiang camps.

Around 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups have been interned in China’s westernmost region of Xinjiang. While the Chinese authorities say they are there of their own free will, recently leaked files from the Chinese government indicate that they are locked up in camps subject to mistreatment, from forced labour to sexual abuse. The reaction of the United States (US) and Europe is known, with the US taking the strongest approach so far in condemning Beijing’s actions and blacklisting a number of organisations for their involvement in the campaign.

However, not much attention has been paid to the response of China’s closest neighbours to the west. These countries have closer ties to China, some of them even share a border with Xinjiang, and also have cultural and ethnic links to those minorities victimised by the Chinese authorities. The Central Asian republics have all supported China in regards to its treatment of the Muslim minorities, but the way the governments of these countries have responded to it differs depending on the role and strength of their own civil societies as well as the relationship they have with those being persecuted.

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