Wed, 18 May 2022

Beijing [China], April 28 (ANI): China is using its diplomatic heft with countries in Central, West, and South Asia to hunt down and target Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities who have taken refuge abroad, a media report said.

Using a complex tool kit of intimidation, harassment, surveillance, detentions, and extraditions, Beijing's transnational campaign has grown to unprecedented depths across the world, Radio Free Europe said citing a report titled, 'Great Wall Of Steel', by the Wilson Center's Kissinger Institute on China and the United States.

The new research shows how China's global rise -- exemplified by its outsized economic influence through projects like the multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) -- has granted Beijing newfound leverage over governments and allowed it to co-opt them as partners in a spreading repression campaign, Radio Free Europe reported.

The study's dataset has documented 5,532 cases of Uyghurs facing intimidation, 1,150 cases of Uyghurs detained in a host country, and 424 cases of Uyghurs deported or extradited to China, from 1997 to January 2022, the report said.

As the study notes, of the 10 countries where Uyghurs as well as ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other groups remain most vulnerable to detention or extradition, China is the largest financial creditor for five of them: Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Cambodia, and Myanmar, leading to deals in which leaders "trade human rights for economic opportunity," according to the report.

"The onset of the (US) War on Terror (in 2001) provided China with new rhetorical tools for building alliances and coalitions for pursuing Uyghur dissidents and diaspora communities; and then, in 2017, with the mass incarceration program in Xinjiang, where China really began ramping up algorithmic surveillance (across the province)," Bradley Jardine, a fellow at the Wilson Center and the author of the study said.

Jardine further said how China has built and established a number of tools in Central Asia like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and using them to sign treaties that allow for mutual extradition with no questions asked between member states.

"This (type of cooperation) has really accelerated (and) made the region very dangerous and hostile (for Uyghurs)," Jardine said.

Furthermore, China has also signed an extradition treaty with Turkey, during a Belt and Road summit forum that was later ratified in December 2020, Jardine highlighted.

"Turkey is still the largest destination, although there is a small exodus of particularly prominent figures, such as Kazakh activist Serikzhan Bilash, who relocated [to] the United States. So there is no real space for them at the moment unless there's more political will in the West to increase its [refugee] quotas. This is where they would be safest," he said.

Beijing launched a brutal crackdown that has swept more than 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities into detention camps and prisons in its western Xinjiang Province under the pretext of fighting Islamist extremism.

These efforts have led to allegations of imposing forced labor, mass internment, forced birth control, erasing Uyghur cultural and religious identity, as well as accusations of genocide.

The Chinese government has publicly refuted any reports of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, however, China has been rebuked globally for the crackdown on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities, and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination. (ANI)

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