Beijing [China], July 8 (ANI): A new report details China’s efforts to control Uyghurs beyond its borders. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using community organizations as fronts to challenge global criticism of Uyghur repressions in Xinjiang.
Kurban Niyaz, writing in Radio Free Asia (RFA), said that the South Australia Xinjiang Association, a nonprofit organization set up in 2009, provides a platform for Chinese migrants from the region in northwestern China to meet one another and network.
However, the group, dominated by Han Chinese, according to two researchers work to neutralize or silence criticism of CCP policies in Xinjiang.
The South Australia Xinjiang Association, which has the backing of China’s diplomatic mission to Australia, “claims the right to speak on behalf of the Xinjiang diaspora while neutralizing the legitimate concerns of the Uyghur community about Beijing’s human rights abuses in the Uyghur homeland,” write Lin Li, and independent researcher, and James Leibold, a senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre.
The CCP uses deceptive and coercive influence operations around the globe to undermine Uyghurs living outside China, often through the United Front Work Department (UFWD), say Li and Leibold in their 65-page policy paper, titled “Cultivating Friendly Forces: The Chinese Communist Party’s Influence Operations in the Xinjiang Diaspora.”
The UFWD gathers information about and attempts to influence individuals and organizations inside and outside China to ensure they are supportive of or useful to the party’s interests, reported RFA.
The CCP gathers intelligence on its critics, maintains databases of former and current Xinjiang residents with overseas connections, and establishes research institutes that suggest policies to lawmakers in their respective countries, the report states.
The tactics also include cultivating overseas community leaders and sending officials tasked with qiaowu — overseas Chinese affairs –to conduct united front work, while inviting targets residing abroad to China, said Niyaz.
The CCP taps into business networks, offer political honours for its backers and stages cultural performances to “nurture friendly forces for China” through language schools and summer camps in a widespread public relations campaign.
On a sunny summer day in the South Australia city of Adelaide in late January 2018, dozens of SA Xinjiang Association members displayed a huge banner bearing the group’s name as they marched wearing the traditional attire of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in a parade to celebrate Australia Day.
It was done despite objections from some of the city’s 1,500 Uyghur residents that the Han Chinese were appropriating their culture, which Chinese authorities back home were working to extinguish through a harsh campaign of forced assimilation, said Niyaz.
Adding insult to injury, the association won the best costume award, its members triumphantly posing for photos with Jay Weatherill, who was then the premier of South Australia, boosting the group’s public profile, reported RFA.
Some Uyghurs later complained to the Adelaide City Council that the parade march by the Han Chinese was intentional by the CCP, “a soft propaganda publicity act” to distract from the communist Chinese government’s persecution of Uyghurs, including members of their own families.
Community organizations with innocuous-sounding names serve as conduits for propaganda about Xinjiang in an effort to dispute the well-documented human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), the researchers say.
Since 2017, Chinese authorities have ramped up a clampdown on Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in the XUAR through arbitrary arrests and lengthy detentions. An estimated 1.8 million members of these groups have been held in internment camps, where some experienced severe human rights abuses, torture, rape and forced labour. (ANI)
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