China continues to battle the Islamist Insurgency in Xinjiang. The Uighur Muslims are fighting to create an independent state of East Turkestan. The Communist Chinese fight back.
Do the Chinese use a humane counterinsurgency strategy? No. It’s pretty much what you would expect from communists.
China uses a policy of colonization to suppress the rebellious Turkic population. The Uighur only make up 45% of the population in their homeland. The Han Chinese now make up 41%, according to this estimate. East Turkestan was a short-lived independent state after WWII until China conquered it in 1949. The Han Chinese only made up 6% of the population in 1949. Continuous colonization has pushed aside the Uighurs.
This is an old story. An agricultural society pushes aside the older nomadic populations and permanently settles new land. Industrialism hastened this process, and this includes China’s expansion Westward.
The Central Asia populations in the highland and the Steppe were conquered by the Chinese and Russians. This brought Islam and Communism into sharp conflict over the past century.
The Han Chinese are granted special priviledges and live in gated communities separate from the Muslim population. Chinese immigration continues as the Muslims are economically and politically marginalized.
Radical Islamists have waged an insurgency and terrorist campaign against China. The Communists crack down in the most brutal way possible.
Chinese security services have also created a pervasive apparatus of informers and deployed new units of black-clad antiterrorist police to patrol around mosques and markets in the cities of Xinjiang.
But the iron-fisted security policy has made more enemies than friends. Extensive travel and interviews in Xinjiang this month unveiled a society segregated by religion and ethnicity, divided by reciprocal distrust, living in separate sections of tightly policed cities.
The same human rights abuses that exist across China – forced labour for peasants, children trafficked to slave as beggars, girls lured into sweatshops – deepen political tensions here and turn young men to violence.
Also turning young men to violence: Radical Islamism.
The Uighar radical community connected with the broader Islamist movements in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. The Chinese are demanding that Pakistan turn over captive members of the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” so China may execute them. The Chinese are refreshingly honest, as a matter of fact.
The Chinese are limiting the travel of Muslims:
In recent weeks has come proof that 58 years of Chinese military occupation have crushed significant opposition but failed to win loyalty. Officials have confiscated the passports of thousands of Muslims in a crackdown to break the growing influence of militant Islam.
Police ordered the Muslims to hand in their passports and told them that the documents would be returned only for travel approved by the authorities.
The journalists here spoke with a former Chinese policemen who participated in massacres of Uighar Muslims during an insurgency in 1997:
“For a while we lost control,” he said. “The insurgents got into an armoury, killed our men and seized the weapons. There was chaos. We brought in the army – they changed into police uniforms – and then we got even. The central government ordered us to crush them without any hesitation. Believe me, we did.
“We lost a few people but we killed – I don’t know exactly – thousands of them. These people know our strength. We taught them a good hard lesson.”
The article goes on. China crushes its Islamists rebels with extremely brutal force. Xinjiang is one of the more repressive regions in the world today. Yet most of this war is secretive because the Chinese suppress nearly all information from leaving the area.
The brutality can push many Muslims towards the radicals – not because they are fanatics, but because they are reluctant insurgents who feel they have nothing to lose. The Communists raise the brutality to such a level that they terrify the Muslim population into submission. The Chinese Colonization is much more effective. They are supplanting the Muslim population with a friendly and loyal population. Colonization truly works if you can stomach it.
I prefer the US plan. Not because it is more humane, but because I believe it is more effective.