Washington: Chinese President Xi Jinpings recent visit to Xinjiang signals a new emphasis on the assimilation of the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority group, who the US and other governments say are victims of an ongoing genocide, analysts said, as per media reports.
Xi’s visit to Xinjiang was his second in eight years to the region, where Chinese authorities have detained up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in internment camps since 2017, RFA reported.
Locals have reportedly been subjected to severe human rights abuses, torture and forced labour, as well as the eradication of their linguistic, cultural and religious traditions in what the US and several Western parliaments have called genocide and crimes against humanity.
Chinese analyst Ma Ju said Xi went to Xinjiang in preparation for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 20th Congress in autumn, where Xi is likely to be reappointed for a third term as party general secretary, and the People’s Congress convening next March.
“Xi Jinping’s statements made after his visit to the region indicates that he will eradicate the remaining few and careful cultural figures after getting rid of the Uyghur elites,” Ma told RFA, adding: “This is an eradication campaign. They will continue this eradication campaign just like getting rid of the civilization of other nations [non-Han peoples] in Chinese history.”
Rahima Mahmut, UK director of the World Uyghur Congress, said events such as the staged dancing of Uyghurs for Xi’s visit was orchestrated for propaganda purposes.
“This happens quite often. It is the same not only for officials from the central government, but also for local officials. The Uyghur students and performers are forced to welcome such officials. The staged dancing of Uyghurs was meant to show the world that Uyghurs enjoy normal happy lives,” she said.
But Mahmut also said it was “frightening” to see photos and videos of the Chinese president with mostly elderly Uyghurs around him, and young men nowhere to be seen, RFA reported.
“Where did the Uyghur young men go? The truth is most young Uyghur males have faced enforced disappearance. They are either in the camps or prisons. This is quite clear,” she said.