McCuaig-Johnston: We thought China could become more democratic. Instead, it is becoming totalitarian

Good commentary:

China’s regime is often called authoritarian.  It certainly has been that under Xi Jinping.  But its recent programs of surveillance and repression show the characteristics of a totalitarian state, with technologies of which Hitler and Mussolini could only dream.

This is shocking given the expectation that decades of economic reform would bring liberalization and some democratic attributes. But Xi has turned his ship of state around. In the Economist’s 2019 Democracy Index, China’s regression resulted in a fall of 23 places in the ranking in one year. It is now near the bottom, below Iran, at 153 out of 167 countries.

An attribute of totalitarian states is a single party, intolerant of differing opinions and controlling citizens’ lives. The Chinese Communist Party is exactly that, injecting itself into the justice system whenever it wishes. Its Social Credit System monitors all WeChat and Weibo exchanges through algorithms that identify those discussing June 4 or May 35, which mean the Tiananmen massacre, or referring to Winnie the Pooh, whose walk is similar to Xi’s. Not taking out the garbage, paying your loans late, getting traffic violations and not adhering to birth control regulations will also give you a bad social credit score. Chinese can lose their jobs or the right to send their child to a good school. Tens of millions have not been permitted to fly or take trains due to their low scores. Citizens understandably fear the blacklists and are self-censoring, which is what the regime wants.

Corporate Social Credit System now applies to domestic and foreign companies and organizations operating in China. If they do not comply fully with every regulation or if they speak out against government policies, the company will not have access to grants, procurement contracts, land or lower taxes. If their employees or suppliers have poor scores, the company is punished. Both credit systems will be tightened over time, and party committees in each company ensure that corporate decisions advance the party’s interests.

Another attribute of totalitarianism is a guiding ideology. In China, that is Xi Jinping Thought, a three-volume book that each citizen must study on an app that knows when they are scrolling through quickly without looking.

Totalitarian regimes have low tolerance of religions, and we have seen this in Tibet and Xinjiang incarcerations, mass sterilization, voice pattern telephone surveillance and forced labour that implicates the foreign firms for whom the products are made. Uyghurs able to return home are assigned a young Han man or woman to live in their house to ensure that they and their children are speaking Mandarin and not practising their religion. In a nod to 1984, they are called Big Brother and Big Sister, and the Han in this “family program” are encouraged to marry Uyghurs to thin the genetic stream.

Christian churches have had their crosses torn down, Xi’s photo and Xi Jinping Thought placed prominently in sanctuaries, and senior appointments approved by the party. House churches are regularly closed and clergy incarcerated.

Citizens speaking out on issues such as free speech, environmental degradation, and expropriation without compensation have been subjected to daily interrogations in a metal tiger chair with wrists and ankles in vises, often in freezing conditions.

Hundreds of thousands of websites have been shut down for inappropriate content, particularly regarding Xi and the party. The Great Firewall is thickening, VPNs have been banned, and party control of all media ensures that citizens see themselves as ruled by a benevolent leader. Those who could pose competition to Xi’s leadership have been imprisoned under cover of his anti-corruption campaign.

Hong Kong’s democratic leadership has been arrested en masse, and recently citizens found they were no longer able to access certain websites. Under the National Security Law, the government can force websites to remove any information that could “endanger national security.” Schoolbooks are being edited and teachers’ roles circumscribed. It is possible that Kong Kong could see even more repression as the regime uses its tools of surveillance to quash any thought of independence.

In the ultimate measure of extraterritorial control, the National Security Law provides that any person who speaks out against the Chinese regime anywhere in the world can be extradited and prosecuted in China. Two Danish politicians were recently named for extradition for helping a former Hong Kong legislator seek asylum in Denmark. Fortunately, Denmark does not have an extradition agreement with China, nor does Canada – but many do. Members of the Chinese diaspora are threatened with harm to their relatives in China to prevent them from criticizing the regime.

We must call China as it is: an emerging totalitarian regime with no regard for rights. Western democracies have been meeting to decide how to push back collectively against China’s actions. Our governments must now deal with China as it really is, not as they wish it were.

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston is Senior Fellow, Institute of Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa.

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/mccuaig-johnston-we-thought-china-could-become-more-democratic-instead-it-is-becoming-totalitarian

Huawei patent mentions use of Uighur-spotting tech

Not that surprising…

A Huawei patent has been brought to light for a system that identifies people who appear to be of Uighur origin among images of pedestrians.

The filing is one of several of its kind involving leading Chinese technology companies, discovered by a US research company and shared with BBC News.

Huawei had previously said none of its technologies was designed to identify ethnic groups.

It now plans to alter the patent.

Forced-labour camps

The company indicated this would involve asking the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) – the country’s patent authority – for permission to delete the reference to Uighurs in the Chinese-language document.

Uighur people belong to a mostly Muslim ethnic group that lives mainly in Xinjiang province, in north-western China.

Government authorities are accused of using high-tech surveillance against them and detaining many in forced-labour camps, where children are sometimes separated from their parents.

Beijing says the camps offer voluntary education and training.

“One technical requirement of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s video-surveillance networks is the detection of ethnicity – particularly of Uighurs,” said Maya Wang, from Human Rights Watch.

“While in the rest of the world, such targeting and persecution of a people on the basis of their ethnicity would be completely unacceptable, the persecution and severe discrimination of Uighurs in many aspects of life in China remain unchallenged because Uighurs have no power in China.”

Body movements

Huawei’s patent was originally filed in July 2018, in conjunction with the Chinese Academy of Sciences .

It describes ways to use deep-learning artificial-intelligence techniques to identify various features of pedestrians photographed or filmed in the street.

It focuses on addressing the fact different body postures – for example whether someone is sitting or standing – can affect accuracy.

But the document also lists attributes by which a person might be targeted, which it says can include “race (Han [China’s biggest ethnic group], Uighur)”.

A spokesman said this reference should not have been included.

“Huawei opposes discrimination of all types, including the use of technology to carry out ethnic discrimination,” he said.

“Identifying individuals’ race was never part of the research-and-development project.

“It should never have become part of the application.

“And we are taking proactive steps to amend it.

“We are continuously working to ensure new and evolving technology is developed and applied with the utmost care and integrity.”

‘Confidential’ document

The patent was brought to light by the video-surveillance research group IPVM.

It had previously flagged a separate “confidential” document on Huawei’s website, referencing work on a “Uighur alert” system.

In that case, Huawei said the page referenced a test rather than a real-world application and denied selling systems that identified people by their ethnicity.

On Wednesday, Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee and leads the Conservative Party’s China Research Group, told BBC News: “Chinese tech giants supporting the brutal assault on the Uighur population show us why we as consumers and as a society must be careful with who we buy our products from or award business to.

“Developing ethnic-labelling technology for use by a repressive regime is clearly not behaviour that lives up to our standards.”

Facial-recognition software

IPVM also discovered references to Uighur people in patents filed by the Chinese artificial-intelligence company Sensetime and image-recognition specialist Megvii.

Sensetime’s filing, from July 2019, discusses ways facial-recognition software could be used for more efficient “security protection”, such as searching for “a middle-aged Uighur with sunglasses and a beard” or a Uighur person wearing a mask.

A Sensetime spokeswoman said the references were “regrettable”.

“We understand the importance of our responsibilities, which is why we began to develop our AI Code of Ethics in mid-2019,” she said, adding the patent had predated this code.

Ethnic-labelling solutions

Megvii’s June 2019 patent, meanwhile, described a way of relabelling pictures of faces tagged incorrectly in a database.

It said the classifications could be based on ethnicity, for example, including “Han, Uighur, non-Han, non-Uighur and unknown”.

The company told BBC News it would now withdraw the patent application.

“Megvii recognises that the language used in our 2019 patent application is open to misunderstanding,” it said.

“Megvii has not developed and will not develop or sell racial- or ethnic-labelling solutions.

“Megvii acknowledges that, in the past, we have focused on our commercial development and lacked appropriate control of our marketing, sales, and operations materials.

“We are undertaking measures to correct the situation.”

Attribute-recognition model

IPVM also flagged image-recognition patents filed by two of China’s biggest technology conglomerates, Alibaba and Baidu, that referenced classifying people by ethnicity but did not specifically mention the Uighur people by name.

Alibaba responded: “Racial or ethnic discrimination or profiling in any form violates our policies and values.

“We never intended our technology to be used for and will not permit it to be used for targeting specific ethnic groups.”

And Baidu said: “When filing for a patent, the document notes are meant as an example of a technical explanation, in this case describing what the attribute-recognition model is rather than representing the expected implementation of the invention.

“We do not and will not permit our technology to be used to identify or target specific ethnic groups.”

But Human Rights Watch said it still had concerns.

“Any company that sells video-surveillance software and systems to the Chinese police would have to ensure that they meet the police’s requirements, which includes the capacity for ethnicity detection,” Ms Wang said.

“The right thing for these companies to do is to immediately cease their sale and maintenance of surveillance equipment, software and systems, to the Chinese police.”

Source: Huawei patent mentions use of Uighur-spotting tech

US Muslims press Organization of Islamic Cooperation on China

Striking that only US Muslims appear to be making this call. Any Canadian Muslim groups doing the same?

US Muslim groups pleaded Thursday for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to speak out on China’s mass incarceration of Uighurs, accusing the global body of abetting what some described as genocide.

The OIC consists of 57 Muslim-majority nations and frequently takes up cases in which it believes Muslims are mistreated, criticizing Israel and, at Pakistan’s behest, India.

But the group headquartered in Saudi Arabia has not voiced alarm over China’s western region of Xinjiang, where rights groups say that more than one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims are being held in camps as part of an effort to stamp out Islamic customs and forcibly integrate the community.

In a March 2019 resolution, the OIC said it “commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens” after a delegation visited.

A coalition of US Muslim organizations including the Council on American-Islamic Relations accused member-states of being cowed by China’s power.

“It’s very clear that China has an economic chokehold on the Muslim world and has been able to isolate every Muslim country into fear of even paying lip service to the Uighur cause,” Omar Sulieman, a Muslim American scholar and rights activist, told a virtual news conference.

“Whereas some Muslim countries will pay lip service to causes like the Palestinian cause,” he said, on the Uighur issue they will “continue to aid in the oppression,” especially by turning back asylum seekers.

Uighur Americana campaigner Rushan Abbas warned that nations could see the export of policies targeting Muslims as China pursues its massive Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative.

“China has a track record of buying and bullying. The genocide of the Uighurs is not China’s internal issue but is a humanity issue,” said Abbas, who said that her activism led China to detain her sister.

The United States, which has a rising rivalry with China, has likened the treatment of the Uighurs to actions of Nazi Germany and voiced disappointment that the OIC has not spoken up.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a rare leader from the Islamic world to have criticized China, while Malaysia has said it will not extradite Uighurs.

China describes the camps as vocational training centers and says that, like Western nations, it is working to reduce the allure of Islamic extremism.

Source: US Muslims press Organization of Islamic Cooperation on China

Chinese state-owned fund among backers of company handling Canadian visa applications

Worrisome. Of note, however, according to their website TT Services lists Australia, New Zealand and the USA as clients, so the issue is broader than just Canada:

One of China’s largest state-owned investment funds is among the biggest backers of a company the Canadian government uses to collect and process personal information from visa applicants around the world.

The ownership structure has prompted some of Canada’s former foreign intelligence leaders to warn that Ottawa should think carefully about trusting sensitive information to a company partly owned by the Chinese state.

Documents filed with Britain’s corporate registry, Companies House, show Chengdong Investment Corp. as one of the most significant contributing partners to the parent company of TT Services, which runs visa application centres for the Canadian government in 24 countries. Its services include collecting fingerprints, photos, biographical information and other personal data.

Chengdong is a subsidiary of China Investment Corp., a Chinese state-run giant with more than US$1-trillion in assets.

TT Services is owned by VFS Global, which calls itself the “world’s largest visa outsourcing and technology services specialist.” Headquartered in Dubai, VFS operates in 144 countries.

Immigration consultants in Canada have raised concerns about the contract with VFS since 2008, when the company began processing visas in China, where police can access corporate offices. Chinese national law also requires any organization operating inside the country to co-operate with intelligence services.

Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, said the amount of personal information VFS handles is immense.

“Passing through their hands are the family trees of applicants,” Mr. Kurland said. “The VFS organization may have more personal information on applicants for immigrant services than entire countries do.”

VFS was founded in 2001 by Zubin Karkaria, an Indian entrepreneur who remains its chief executive officer. But today, its majority owner is EQT VII (No. 1) Limited Partnership, whose registered office is in Edinburgh. That company, British documents show, has numerous partners.

Two of the largest are Eight Finance Investment Co. Ltd., which belongs to the Hong Kong sovereign wealth fund, and Chengdong Investment Corp.

The records show that both Eight and Chengdong made €25,000 ($39,000) in capital contributions, considerably more than other investors, which include pension funds and banks – some of whom contributed as little as €20.

The small figures belie the importance of those investments. In limited partnerships, investments are often made as loans, the size of which can far outstrip the capital contributions. Larger contributions usually entitle investors to a larger share of profits.

In general, “if you contribute more, you get more out of the investment,” said Bobby Reddy, a lecturer at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law.

VFS and the Canadian government say their agreement includes privacy safeguards. And under British law, limited partners such as Chengdong are meant to be “passive or silent investors,” Mr. Reddy said.

But Richard Fadden, a former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) who served as national security adviser to two prime ministers, said he does not think it is appropriate for a company with Chinese state-enterprise ownership to handle visa applications for the Canadian government.

He said that Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne recently ordered a review of a deal in which a Chinese state-owned company would provide new X-ray security equipment for Canadian embassies.

“It seems to me that if there are concerns in Ottawa about a company that is owned by the Chinese company operating X-ray machines in Canadian embassies, then there should be an equal amount of concern about the possibility that a Chinese company might have access to all sorts of information about foreigners wanting to come to Canada,” Mr. Fadden said.

“This is information that might be just as useful to the Chinese state, especially, if and when, they reach Canada.”

In a statement to The Globe, EQT spokesman Daniel Ketema confirmed that EQT VII (No. 1) holds majority ownership of VFS, but declined comment on the role of Chengdong.

“We are not allowed to disclose names of investors or their stakes in EQT’s funds,” Mr. Ketema wrote in an e-mail.

VFS chief communications officer Peter Brun said “VFS Global does not store any personal data related to a visa application. All data is purged from its systems in accordance with regulations set out by client governments.”

“The EQT VII fund doesn’t have access to any data from VFS Global nor any of its other portfolio companies,” he said.

The Chinese government has in recent years asserted more intensive control of companies inside its borders, both state-controlled and private entities alike. In September, the Communist Party urged privately owned companies to employ “politically sensible people” who will “firmly listen to the party and follow the party.”

State-owned firms also form a key pillar of Chinese foreign policy, and the country has sought to boost the overseas reach of its financial institutions.

Ward Elcock, a former director of CSIS, said the connections of a Chinese state-owned firm and the Hong Kong sovereign wealth fund to VFS Global need to be investigated further to determine whether the threat is serious.

“I think that the role that Chengdong plays ought to raise a few eyebrows, even if it is as part of a limited partnership,” Mr. Elcock said. “Visas and the associated applications would, I suspect, be of interest to the Chinese, so there is at least the risk that they would want to find some way to obtain access.”

“In the current environment, it would be less than wise to ignore the potential risks,” he said. “As to the Hong Kong sovereign wealth fund, we would not have thought of them as a problem until recently, but increasingly it is clear that the Hong Kong of the past will not be the Hong Kong of the future. Instead, it will simply be an extension of the regime in Beijing with a few bells and whistles retained … so, again reason for more enquiries.”

In Canada, the Liberal government has said it wants to bring in 1.2 million immigrants over the next three years, including 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021.

In other countries, VFS shares revenues with governments. Canada’s government “does not receive a portion of revenues from VFS for premium services nor does it collect any revenues from VFS Global,” Béatrice Fénelon, spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said in a statement.

“Safeguards governing the protection of personal information are built into the terms of the contract between the VACs and the government of Canada,” Ms. Fénelon said.

She declined comment on the VFS ownership structure, but said using the company allows the Canadian government to “offer extended hours of operation and more points of service that make it convenient and accessible for applicants to submit their application and provide their biometrics.”

The contract with VFS will remain in place until Oct. 31, 2023. It can be extended for up to three years, but late this summer, Ottawa began a process to replace current contracts.

The government is seeking input on what visa application centres might look like in the future, including promotion of Canada as a destination of choice; collection of biometric information; premium services that would be offered for a fee; and tighter links with the government through provision of “interview facilitation, interview rooms, and videoconferencing.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-chinese-state-owned-fund-among-backers-of-company-handling-canadian/

Tohti and Burton: Canada must respond to China’s harrowing genocide

More on the oppression Uyghurs and the need for more forceful policy responses:
As the world somberly marked UN Genocide Commemoration Day this week, Canadians still await their own government’s action after a parliamentary panel found that China’s persecution of Uyghurs is now the largest mass detention of a people in concentration camps since the Holocaust.Last summer, the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rightsheld a series of emergency meetings on the plight of the Uyghur population in China, in response to growing reports of forced labour, forced sterilization and population control.

The subcommittee received briefs and testimony from 23 Canadian and international witnesses, who detailed atrocities in China’s flourishing campaign to eradicate Uyghur culture and identity by engaging two million people in forced labour and mental torture.

The subcommittee heard that in the prison camps, Uyghurs are required to speak only Mandarin Chinese and are denied their human right to practise their religion. Women and girls often face sexual abuse and rape by their captors. The situation for their children consigned to orphanages is one of complete assimilation into Han Chinese language and culture, combined with the desperation of having no information on the fate of their parents.

Family abroad, meantime, have no means to communicate with anyone in the Uyghur regions. The stress on Canadian Uyghurs of not knowing if family members are alive is enormous, and they are subject to menacing threats by Chinese agents in Canada who intimidate them from speaking out on what’s going on. These threats sometimes precede the sudden death of family members in the camps. There was also extensive evidence given of sterilization of Uyghur women and forced marriage to Han Chinese men.

The subcommittee’s report to Parliament this Fall found that China’s policies toward Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims are worse than imagined. It concurred with testimony by former human rights lawyer and Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, who called the Uyghur situation “a classic case study of such war crimes, crimes against humanity and, as I and others have mentioned, acts that are constitutive of genocide.”

Cotler and others implored the Canadian government to take various measures including working with allies and multilateral organizations to condemn China’s use of concentration camps, extending sanctuary for Uyghur refugees trapped in third countries, and refusing to import products of Uyghur forced labour.

The subcommittee is urging the federal government to impose Sergei Magnitsky Actsanctions on all Chinese government officials culpable for perpetrating human rights abuses, and notes that if the international community does not condemn China’s campaign in Xinjiang province, a precedent will be set and such atrocities will be adopted by other regimes.

Besides Wednesday having been Genocide Commemoration Day, Dec. 9 was also the 72nd anniversary of the Genocide Convention, the first human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The Convention signifies the international community’s commitment to “never again” and establishes a duty for states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

But as the months go by, it becomes increasingly apparent the Canadian government will ignore the findings and recommendations of its own parliamentary subcommittee. The federal government will not expel any Chinese diplomats overseeing the harassment of people in Canada, instead advising Uyghur Canadians to contact local police if they are subject to threats. And evidently Beijing has sufficient influence in Canada to put a stop to any talk of Magnitsky sanctions against complicit Communist officials, some of whom have real estate here and children enrolled in Canadian schools.

In the end, it all seems to be about racism and the critical position of Uyghur territory for China’s global “Belt and Road” infrastructure campaign. As Uyghurs call for self-rule in an independent East Turkestan principality, China evidently believes it can solve that problem through its cultural extermination efforts.

The subcommittee’s report aptly quotes Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel: “Silence in the face of evil ends up being complicity with evil itself.” It is time Canada stopped standing idly by and showed some legitimacy for our purported commitment to the rules-based international order.

Mehmet Tohti is Executive Director at Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project. Charles Burton is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa, and non-resident senior fellow of the European Values Center for Security Policy in Prague. He is a former professor of political science at Brock University, and served as a diplomat at Canada’s Embassy in Beijing.

Source: Tohti and Burton: Canada must respond to China’s harrowing genocide

Genghis Khan’s memory is erased from view as China cracks down on Mongolian culture

Yet one more example of Chinese government repression of ethnic minorities:

One of history’s most influential figures has been drawn into a Chinese government campaign to impose ethnic conformity on people of Mongolian descent.

Genghis Khan, the 12th-century conqueror, has long been both an icon of the Mongolian people and a rallying figure for nationalists. Now he is becoming a symbol of Beijing’s new effort to put pressure on its Mongolian population, as authorities across the country are demanding greater adherence to a centrally defined notion of what it means to be Chinese.

Under President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party of China has made it harder for ethnic minorities to maintain unique languages, identities and belief systems – a policy that also includes a push to expunge foreign influences from religion, philosophy and schools. Genghis Khan’s standing among Mongolians has long made him a source of disquiet for the Chinese government. “Genghis Khan is a god in Mongolians’ minds,” said Ulzidelger Jagchid, an ethnic Mongolian from China who is now an activist living abroad. “The government fears that Mongolians, with this belief in a god, will come together and unite.” Beijing, he said, “wants to lower the position of Genghis Khan in Mongolians’ world.”Zoom/Pan

In Hulunbuir, a small administrative centre of China’s Inner Mongolia region, in the midst of sprawling grasslands, plaques describing the warrior’s exploits have been removed and defaced in the area around an oboo, a sacred site built around a stone from his birthplace. One rock formerly held a tablet with a quote from Anandyn Amar, a former Mongolian prime minister and independence advocate who called Genghis Khan a leader who had made the Mongolian people “famous across the Four Seas.” A series of other plaques, displayed until recently below a lengthy stone frieze depicting his birth and exploits, have disappeared; only their dark outlines remain on the concrete below.

It is not clear who is responsible or whether their removal was an instance of historical negationism or an act of protest against the government. Some plaques still on display show signs of having been painted over and subsequently cleaned. The propaganda office in Hulunbuir did not respond to a faxed Globe and Mail request for comment.

But the alteration and vandalism of a site devoted to Genghis Khan inside China comes after local authorities banned unilingual, Mongolian instruction in schools, supplanting it with bilingual – Mandarin and Mongolian – education that, people in Hulunbuir say, has dramatically reduced the classroom time devoted to a language that is still used in many homes. About 6.5 million ethnic Mongolians live in China today. Similar education policies have been used to enforce conformity in other areas of China with large culturally distinct minorities, including Tibet and Xinjiang.

The bilingual education policy prompted a rare series of public protests across Inner Mongolia this fall, with parents and students boycotting classes for more than a week in Hulunbuir. Authorities responded with arrests and firings. A number of Communist Party members were ordered to attend “the Party school for education and training.” When some refused, they were expelled from the Party.

It has been followed by other signs of a deepening crackdown on Mongolian culture.

Last month, the Château des ducs de Bretagne history museum in France postponed an exhibit about Genghis Khan and his empire that had been planned in partnership with the Inner Mongolia Museum in China. Before the exhibit could open, the French museum said, the Chinese Bureau of Cultural Heritage demanded changes, including the removal of the words “Genghis Khan,” “Empire” and “Mongol.” The bureau instead proposed its own plan for the exhibit, which sought “the complete disappearance of Mongol history and culture in favour of a new official narrative,” the museum said.

Schools in Inner Mongolia have continued to display Mongolian script, according to pictures seen by The Globe. But activists say images of Genghis Khan have been removed, although The Globe was sent a photo of a portrait that remains in one school in the region.

Communist China has gone to war with Genghis Khan before.

During the bloody tumult of the Cultural Revolution, worship of the Mongol emperor was outlawed and some of his relics destroyed. Mao Zedong mocked him as a short-lived ruler who knew “no more than hunting eagles.” Subsequent Chinese policies have actually sought to recast and embrace him as a Chinese leader.

But for ethnic Mongolians, Genghis Khan remains very important, said a Mongolian woman in Hulunbuir, adding that all Mongolian families have an image of him in their homes.

The Globe is not identifying Mongolians in Hulunbuir because those who criticize government policy in China face serious reprisals.

At least two museums in the region with Genghis Khan and Mongolian culture exhibits are currently not open to visitors. In Manzhouli, the Zhalainuo’er Museum says it is doing renovations in response to a forest fire that took place Oct. 1 near a city almost 1,400 kilometres away. In Ordos, the display halls at the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan are also closed. A worker said infrastructure upgrades are under way. Outdoor areas with religious significance remain open.

Another museum dedicated to “The Secret History of the Mongols,” which state media called the only museum of its kind when it opened last year, says it only accepts pre-screened visitors.

In Hulunbuir, classes have resumed. An apparently new police station now sits outside the gate of a local middle school. Large characters on an electronic sign inside proclaim: “10,000 people of one mind, unity is strength.”

But resentment simmers.

One young Mongolian man in Hulunbuir said – in flawless Chinese – that when he was a student, classes were conducted entirely in Mongolian and that Mandarin was a minor subject. Many families still sought Mandarin lessons for their children because the language offered better employment prospects.

Now, however, there is no way to resist a government intent on enforcing a single vision of what it means to be Chinese, the young man said.

But what can’t be taught in school can be taught at home, he said, vowing to raise his future children with a knowledge of their ancestral tongue.

“Maintaining the Mongolian language to me is a must. It’s a symbol of our people,” he said.

Genghis Khan, meanwhile, remains a spiritual ballast, he said.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-genghis-khans-memory-is-erased-from-view-as-china-cracks-down-on/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Morning%20Update&utm_content=2020-12-2_6&utm_term=Morning%20Update:%20Trudeau%20open%20to%20more%20health%20care%20funding%20as%20premiers%20criticize%20fiscal%20update&utm_campaign=newsletter&cu_id=%2BTx9qGuxCF9REU6kNldjGJtpVUGIVB3Y

Canada won’t lead boycott of 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing

Wrong call, as others have mentioned. Will be used as propaganda by the Chinese regime much as Hitler used the 1936 Berlin Olympics (only saved by Jesse Owen’s win).

Canadian Olympians, and the Canadian Olympic Committee, need to reflect hard on their complicity with the various aspects of Chinese repression (Uighurs, Hong Kong, arbitrary arrests etc) should they attend – even if the two Michael’s are released by then:

The Canadian government has no plans to lead the way amid growing calls for an international boycott of the 2022 Olympics in China.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told the House of Commons special committee on Canada-China relations Monday that a decision on a boycott should be left to private sports bodies participating in the Winter Games in Beijing.

“I think when it comes to sports and politics … one has to be careful. That is a decision for the Canadian Olympic Committee to make and certainly we will look to see their decision when it comes to the Olympics in Beijing,” Champagne told MPs.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong raised the issue, noting that former Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick had suggested last week that the government should start preparing the Canadian public for a boycott of the Olympic Games. The Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place in Beijing in February, 2022.

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador, has called on Ottawa to boycott the Olympic Games and to impose sanctions on China for its human-rights abuses. John Higginbotham, who previously served as commissioner for Canada in Hong Kong, a role equivalent to an ambassador, has also said Canada should organize a boycott of the Games unless China “lays off Hong Kong.”

In September, more than 160 human-rights groups called on the IOC to withdraw the Games from Beijing because of gross human-rights abuses. In a letter, the organizations said China has put more than one million Uyghurs in detention camps and set up an “Orwellian surveillance network” in Tibet and crushed democratic dissent in Hong Kong.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Dominic Rabb, has refused to rule out boycotting the Beijing Games because of the treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjing region, where they have been subject to mass incarceration, forced sterilizations and forced labour.

United States Senators Rick Scott and Josh Hawley have urged NBC Universal, which owns the rights to broadcast the Beijing Olympics, to “pick human rights over profits” and refuse to air the Games.

A Canadian House of Commons committee recently accused China of committing “genocide” against its Muslim minorities and has called for Magnitsky-style sanctions against Chinese officials. The committee did not call for a boycott of the Olympics.

Beijing is set to become the first city to play host to both Summer and Winter Games.

Last week, the COC announced that two-time Olympic gold medallist speedskater Catriona Le May Doan will serve as Canada’s chef de mission for the 2022 Olympics.

In his testimony Monday evening, Champagne appeared to back off a pledge to unveil a new framework for Canada-China policy before the end of the year.

Under questioning from MPs, the minister would only say that Canada’s China policy is “evolving” and that is based on Canadian interests, values and principles on human rights and rules and partnership.

“Our foreign policy needs to evolve with an evolving China … and that is what we are already putting in motion,” he said.

Senior officials have privately played down the significance of Champagne’s talk of a new China policy. Officials told The Globe there will be no formal declaration on China but relations will be managed with the new reality that Chinese President Xi Jinping has adopted an aggressive and regressive policy within China and to the outside world.

In his opening remarks, Champagne acknowledged that the China of 2015 is not the China of today, expressing concern about its expansion policies, including in the High Arctic.

Senior officials have privately played down the significance of Champagne’s talk of a new China policy. Officials told The Globe there will be no formal declaration on China but relations will be managed with the new reality that Chinese President Xi Jinping has adopted an aggressive and regressive policy within China and to the outside world.

In his opening remarks, Champagne acknowledged that the China of 2015 is not the China of today, expressing concern about its expansion policies, including in the High Arctic.

“We see a country and leadership that is increasingly prepared to throw its weight around to expand its interests,” he said. “China’s ambition even reaches the Arctic region with aims to develop shipping lanes … this is a new reality that we need to take into account and thus engage with China with eyes wide open.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-canada-wont-lead-boycott-of-2022-olympic-games-in-beijing/?utm_medium=Referrer:+Social+Network+/+Media&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links

Ivison: Useful idiots of the world unite – and they have, with ‘Free Meng’ event

Appropriate use of the term:

The etymology of the phrase “useful idiot” is debated. Some people suggest it was coined by Lenin. Others credit Stalin, who used it to describe the confused and misguided American sympathizers who aided the Soviet agenda.

It came to mind when reading about a virtual event being held Tuesday in anticipation of the second anniversary of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive being detained in Vancouver, pending extradition to the United States.

That’s shocking.

Ashton has not only agreed to participate in the event, she has sponsored a petition in the House of Commons that calls for Meng’s immediate release; urges the government to “protect Canadian jobs” by allowing Huawei to participate in the roll-out of 5G in Canada, and encourages a foreign policy review to develop an “independent” foreign policy on China.

Yves Engler, a fellow of the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, said he is sympathetic to the plight of the two Michaels. “But who began the process? Hostage diplomacy is a terrible idea but who started it?” he said.

Meng’s detention “upholds unilateral and illegal U.S. sanctions” against Iran, he said.

That’s not true.

U.S. authorities are seeking Meng’s extradition on fraud charges, alleging she lied to HSBC as part of a scheme to obtain financing, thereby putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions in Iran.

However, when B.C. Supreme Court judge Heather Holmes ruled that Meng can be sent to the U.S. to be prosecuted, she did so because she deemed her crime, as alleged by the U.S., is also a crime in Canada. The essence of the alleged crime was not violating U.S. sanctions but deceiving a bank to obtain financial services.

On the petition’s second demand, Engler defended the call to allow Huawei to be involved in Canada’s 5G network. “We have real concerns about surveillance…The Chinese government has its own repressive spying and intelligence apparatus. But it doesn’t come close to the power of the NSA (America’s National Security Agency) or the Five Eyes (the intelligence alliance comprising Canada, the U.S., U.K, Australia and New Zealand). Canadians should be more concerned about the NSA in Canada than the Chinese government,” he said. “I don’t think that China is a threat to most Canadians.”

While it is true that no Huawei code or hardware has been linked definitively to the Chinese state, the company is beholden to the Communist Party’s interests and instruction. Security experts believe that Huawei receives contracts from the Chinese military to develop dual use communications technology and that the threat is legitimate.

A generous interpretation is that Engler, Manly and Ashton are well-intentioned idealists who qualify for Stalin’s (or Lenin’s) depiction.

Engler admitted he has never been to China, where surveillance has been elevated to an art-form.

We can probably all agree that we do not welcome a cold war with the Chinese, far less anything warmer.

But to present, as the Canadian Peace Congress does, Meng’s detention as “an unprovoked kidnapping,” or Canada’s participation in naval operations in east Asia as an attempt to “provoke and encircle the PRC,” is to take adolescent gullibility to dangerous levels.

Ashton can have no excuses. She has been an MP for 12 years and run for her party’s leadership twice.

Does she agree with the Communist Party’s English language mouthpiece, the Global Times, that Canada has surrendered its judicial and diplomatic independence to the U.S.?

I would have asked her, if she had returned calls seeking comment.

A far less benign but more considered view of China emerged from last weekend’s Halifax Security Forum, which summarized the opinions of 250 experts in a handbook for delegates. The forum concluded that modern-day China has become the most powerful authoritarian state in history and a major challenger to the liberal world. The consensus is that China’s ambitions will not stop at its borders and that it intends to undermine democracies around the world – in particular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which “now hang precariously in the balance.”

Even if the radical left is able to discount what is going on in Hong Kong and the South China Sea, how can it overlook the oppression in Xinjiang that all human rights organizations say is intensifying?

The explanation appears to be a reflexive contempt and loathing toward the United States that excuses any and all atrocities by other nations.

This, after all, is the same Niki Ashton who tweeted #HandsOff Venezuela last year, in support of the despicable Nicolas Maduro regime. The illegitimate president must have been gratified that the world is so packed with useful idiots.

Source: Useful idiots of the world unite – and they have, with ‘Free Meng’ event

Canada shouldn’t go to Winter Olympics in Beijing

Agree with Raph Girard, former government colleague. Do Olympians really want to be complicit with the Chinese regime and all its human rights abuses?:

The appointment of Catriona Le May Doan as head of our 2022 Olympic delegation would have been more than appropriate had there been a reason to send a team to China in the first place. How can we possibly be thinking of sending Canadians under our flag to a country that is holding two of our citizens hostage; that has threatened Canadians in Hong Kong; and that continues to use trade as a weapon against us?

China’s repression of the Uighurs and the democratic movement in Hong Kong  should be sufficient for fair-minded countries to withdraw, as Canada did from the Moscow Games in 1980. China is a  pariah state. Let us show some backbone and demonstrate we will not be bullied by letting it know right now that there will be no Canadian team to harass in Beijing in 2022.

Raphael Girard, Ottawa

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/todays-letters-boycott-the-beijing-winter-olympics-over-chinas-abuses

John Ivison: Boycott of Beijing Olympics is no substitute for a proper foreign policyClose sticky video

While the government is pondering over a new approach to dealing with China, the Conservative Party is urging the Liberals to consider a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The idea was raised on social media by Canada’s former senior public servant, Michael Wernick. “Perhaps it is time to start preparing the Canadian public for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China,” he said.

Michael Chong, the Conservative foreign affairs critic, agrees.

“China is threatening our citizens and undermining our rights and freedoms with its covert operations in Canada. Everything should be under consideration to defend Canada and Canadians – including a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics,” he said in an email.

Chong pointed out that it is an option where this country has some leverage. “Canada is a winter sports powerhouse. No Winter Olympics could be a success without Canada’s participation,” he said.

The idea received a tepid response from the government.

The department of Canadian Heritage professed impotence when it came to the question of a boycott. “The decision on whether or not to participate in the Olympic and Paralympic games lies with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, as they operate independently of the government,” it said in a statement.

A boycott has pros and cons – it would send a clear message to Beijing that Canadians are incensed at their fellow citizens being jailed arbitrarily (Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are approaching two years in detention), while the Communist Party engages in intimidation and influence-peddling on Canadian soil.

On the other hand, it is unlikely to succeed in securing the release of the two Michaels.

The games were designed to lower international tensions and this would exacerbate them. A boycott would be a symbolic gesture unlikely to shift Chinese foreign policy, while the real victims would be the athletes.

Wernick said he is not sure it is a good idea, especially if Canada was on its own. “Did boycotting Moscow in 1980 make a difference?” he asked.

At the end of the day, a boycott is no substitute for a proper foreign policy, which is something Canada lacks when it comes to China.

Source: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/john-ivison-boycott-of-beijing-olympics-is-no-substitute-for-a-proper-foreign-policy

Burton: Canada should manage our China policy more honestly

With Global Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne scheduled to give evidence Monday to the House of Commons Special Committee on Canada-China relations, expect a lot of hemming and hawing over why he voted against an Opposition motion for Canada to announce a decision on Huawei 5G before Christmas.

He’ll also have to explain why Canada has not undertaken effective measures to stop covert, coercive activities by Chinese agents who seek to influence Canadian policymakers and intimidate human rights defenders in Canada’s Uighur and Tibetan communities, pro-democracy activists, campaigners for freedom in Hong Kong or practitioners of Falun Gong. Canada’s policy on this so far has been akin to the “ghosting” (that is, withdrawing without explanation) of a discarded romantic partner. Canada has broken off the 5G relationship with Huawei for very good national security reasons, but doesn’t want to incur Beijing’s wrath by telling them straight out.

The argument that “ghosting” might obtain the release of Michaels Kovrig and Spavor, or avoid further economic retaliation that punishes Canadian business and farmers, has proven wrong-headed. After 711 days, two exemplary Canadian citizens are still in prison hell in the People’s Republic of China, neither of them deserving such vulgar abuse as Beijing tries to force Canada to comply with China’s political demands. Beijing obviously does not reward passivity with gestures of goodwill, and if the federal government continues to give in to the PRC’s amoral “wolf warrior diplomacy,” expect China to be thus emboldened to demand that Canada offer successive concessions in years ahead.

In 2018, China declared itself a “near-Arctic state” and called for a “Polar Silk Road” to not only expedite shipping through our Arctic waters, but develop ports, infrastructure, military presence and extract resources in Canada’s North. The carrot for Canada would ostensibly be huge Chinese state investment and developmental benefits, but this is all simply part of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s strategy to displace the United States as the world’s dominant political and economic power by 2050, which will be the 100th anniversary of China’s People’s Republic.

This is all consistent with the PRC’s strong insistence that Canada not only allow Huawei free rein over our telecommunications framework, but that Canada cease its “discriminatory” security review process over any PRC acquisitions of critical Canadian natural resources and infrastructure.

Where is Canada’s appeasement of China ultimately leading? If push came to shove, would we revisit the decision to keep Aecon Construction out of Chinese state control? China certainly sees precedent for this, as our current government in 2017 inexplicably reversed the Harper cabinet’s 2015 denial of Hong Kong O-Net’s application to take over ITF Technologies of Montreal, a leader in advanced fibre-laser technology with military applications. It was because CSIS reportedly had advised that O-Net is effectively controlled by the Chinese state that Canada passed up China’s generous monetary inducements to OK that acquisition, despite the lobbying of Canadians who would have benefitted richly from the sale.

Little wonder that Beijing clearly perceives that holding Kovrig and Spavor is working out well, keeping Canada from retaliating for China’s flouting of accepted norms of international diplomacy and trade. It’s time Canada did the right things: ceasing to turn a blind eye to China’s money diplomacy meant to influence Canadian policymakers; adopting zero tolerance of Chinese state harassment of people in Canada; sanctioning Chinese officials who have wealth invested here and are complicit in the Uighur genocide; offering safe harbour to all Hong Kongers at risk of arrest under the PRC’s draconian National Security Law; and stringently inspecting all Chinese shipments into Canada to stem the flow of fentanyl.

As for Huawei, we really need to make a clear and principled statement. In doing so, China will have no reason to further poison its relationship with Canada by keeping Kovrig and Spavor so brutally incarcerated.

Ghosting has not worked in this relationship. It is time to make clear our Canadian intentions.

Charles Burton is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa, and non-resident senior fellow of the European Values Center for Security Policy in Prague. He is a former professor of political science at Brock University, and served as a diplomat at Canada’s Embassy in Beijing. Source: Burton: Canada should manage our China policy more honestly

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/burton-canada-should-manage-our-china-policy-more-honestly

China Targets Muslim Scholars And Writers With Increasingly Harsh Restrictions

Yet another example of Chinese government repression:

This spring, 14 men were brought into police offices, where, one by one, they were subjected to weeks of questioning about their online correspondence and political views.

Their offense? Buying Islamic books.

The men were detained in Yiwu, China, an international commercial hub on the country’s wealthy east coast and home to a growing community of Muslims. The detentions are emblematic of increasingly harsh restrictions targeting spiritual and educational life for Muslims in China.

Once focused on giving minorities limited cultural autonomy, China’s ethnic policy has shifted in the last decade toward an approach that favors complete assimilation with China’s Han ethnic majority in language and religious practice. Muslims in China now fear that religious freedoms are regressing to those in the days of the Cultural Revolution, a decade of severe political and religious persecution in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Every household would burn their religious books in case they were searched. Shredders were sold out. People would flush the book ashes down the toilet, sometime clogging the pipes,” one Chinese Muslim publisher says of that era. “The persecution we are facing now is worse than that time.”

The publisher, who has fled China and continues to publish books from abroad, requested anonymity because at least 40 of his relatives have been detained or sentenced to prison for their religious beliefs or connection to him. Many in his publishing network have been arrested or fled the country.

“The state only wants its garden to have one type of flower,” he says. “The red ones. Green, blue or white flowers: if they are not red, they will be cut down.”

Targeting scholars and writers

“Intellectuals are the bearers of tradition. They’re looked up to as the arbiters, the judges of what is the the real Islam, and so they make an attractive target for a government that is interested in either controlling cultural expression or trying to completely reengineer it,” says Rian Thum, who studies Islam in China as a senior research fellow at Britain’s University of Nottingham.

China is home to about 23 million practicing Muslims, according to its 2010 census, the most recent count — less than 2% of the country’s population. Most are Uighur — a Turkic ethnic group — or labeled as Hui, ethnically and linguistically indistinguishable from China’s Han ethnic majority. Chinese Muslims are most densely clustered in the northwestern regions of Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang, but live across the country, as they have for more than a millennium.

Last year, NPR reported that authorities had forced nearly all mosques in Ningxia and the eastern province of Henan to “renovate” by removing their domes and Arabic script. Demolitions have since extended to mosques in Zhejiang and Gansu provinces. But practicing Muslims say the most heavy-handed restrictions have targeted the intangible channels through which they have preserved their faith in China for centuries.

Beginning in 2018, new religious restrictions shuttered hundreds of Arabic language and Islamic schools across Ningxia and Zhengzhou, Henan’s capital. Imams must now take political education classes as part of a revamped certification program. The program also mandates that they can only serve in the region where their household is registered, effectively disbarring hundreds of itinerant imams.

The restrictions have only intensified since then. Mosque demolitions have spread. The intellectual heart of China’s Islamic community has largely been silenced as scholars, writers, religious leaders and their families are under constant state surveillance. A once-thriving academic and religious exchange between Chinese Muslims and centers across the Middle East and South Asia has halted, as those having business or religious ties abroad are subject to Chinese state harassment and detention.

“What dominates Muslim [government] cadres is the [Communist] party line and the official version of Islam promoted by government agencies and organizations,” says Ma Haiyun, an assistant professor at Frostburg State University, where he studies Islam in China. “The result of this restriction is to make traditional discourses on Islam more commercial, patriotic and Chinese.”

“We lived like ghosts”

The door to Qingzhen Shuju — Islam Books — remains padlocked, the shop full of stacks of books in their unopened packaging.

Located in an upscale university neighborhood in Beijing, the bookstore and its accompanying website were a prominent publisher of Islamic philosophy works and the newest Arabic works translated into Chinese — until publisher Ma Yinglong (no relation to Ma Haiyun) was arrested in 2017 on charges of illegal publishing and terrorism. Two people close to him say he remains in detention in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region.

A second influential publisher, Ma Zhixiong (no relation to either Ma), ran a prolific imprint called Tianma Publishing from China’s southwestern Yunnan province until he too was imprisoned for selling illegal books, in 2015. He was released on probation this year.

“The printing plant was closed and our equipment and all books were confiscated. In the first days [of my imprisonment], I was almost completely cut off from the outside world,” Ma Zhixiong wrote in an essay widely circulated this fall among chat groups on the Chinese WeChat app. “During my prison days, human dignity disappeared. Every day, people had to take off their clothes for inspection and to hold our heads while squatting down while being interrogated… We lived like ghosts.”

The two publishers were a critical link in a world of writers, publishers and bookstores, the backbone for religious studies in China. Their arrests are evidence of a crackdown widening from its epicenter in Xinjiang, where authorities have detained hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities, sentencing some to lengthy prison terms for practicing Islam.

Despite international criticism, Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared the detention and security policies in Xinjiang “entirely correct” and a “success” at a September meeting of party officials. “We must persevere in Sinicizing the direction of our country’s religions,” he said.

The crushing of China’s Muslim writing community is a marked reversal from a period of literary openness after economic and political reforms took hold in the 1980s.

Despite some restrictions, Muslim writers thrived in the laissez-faire atmosphere of those decades. For example, unable to get the commercial book codes — similar to an ISBN number — allotted to state-sanctioned publishers for state-approved volumes, writers and editors self-published their works and distributed them by mail to readers and religious bookstores that were ubiquitous for decades outside larger mosques.

“Many people have been oppressed for their speech in China but among the Muslim community, those who get into trouble for their writing or publishing have gone unnoticed,” a prominent Chinese Muslim writer tells NPR.

He fled China last year after friends warned that police were seeking to detain him. He requested anonymity out of concern for the safety of his immediate family, almost all of whom remain in China.

He and hundreds of other Chinese Muslims used to moderate online forums and events and curated websites that discussed issues of scripture and philosophy. By 2016, those sites were shut down or censored within China’s Great Firewall. They moved to WeChat, where the writer now runs chat groups of 500 people each, but doing so requires constant vigilance: “Even on WeChat,” he says, “it is a continuous process of continually being shut down by censors and starting a new group.”

WeChat would also ensnare the 14 people detained in Yiwu earlier this year; all had purchased this writer’s books on history, scripture and philosophy through the app.

“They interrogated them about their relationship with several Muslim intellectuals and overseas Chinese Muslims. The police had printed out the text records everyone had had on WeChat with writers and publishers,” said a friend of one of those detained, who requested anonymity to avoid detention for speaking out. “Now the police say every time they travel, they have to report to them beforehand when they are leaving and where they are going.”

As for China’s Muslim community leaders, “There are no imams who dare to speak out,” says a scholar who leads a Quran reading group in northwestern China. “You can renounce your state-given imam certification and leave the mosque in order to speak out — but then you can be sure you will be constantly monitored.”

“They know what you are up to”

Beginning in 2017, Chinese Muslims outside Xinjiang watched with dread as hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic minority, were detained and sent either to “reeducation centers” or prison.

Soon after, Xinjiang security officers began fanning out to other provinces to send Hui Muslims with identity documents registered in Xinjiang back to the region.

One of those forcibly returned to Xinjiang was a young Hui woman who taught at a religious school in a mosque outside Xinjiang, after completing a theological studies degree at Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University. Last December, Xinjiang police abruptly detained her and brought her back to her hometown of Tacheng.

“We asked them, why send 30 men to apprehend a young woman and her infant at 11 at night. It was unbelievable,” says a fellow teacher who asked to remain anonymous and keep his location withheld because he was detained and questioned after speaking to NPR.

He learned in March that the woman had been slapped with a seven-year prison sentence but doesn’t know on what charges.

Four Hui Muslims born in Xinjiang told NPR they managed to change the registration of their identity documents, called hukou, to another province before 2017, as restrictions on Uighurs and practicing Muslims in Xinjiang became more draconian.

Others moved abroad, but even outside China, Xinjiang security officials continue to harass them through WeChat.

“My hometown police somehow knew that I had even moved apartments this year,” says one Hui Muslim now living in Egypt who requested anonymity for fear of retribution from Chinese security officials. The police officers send “friendly” messages weekly, the person says, full of smiley faces, heart emojis and stickers, but their intent is clear: “It is meant to show they know what you are up to and to remind you of where you are from.”

Efforts to co-opt Muslim leaders

Xinjiang policing has even reached a beachside city on Hainan, a Chinese tropical island province in the South China Sea. Home to a small community of historically Muslim Utsuls, Hainan’s warm climes have begun attracting retirees and vacationers from other provinces during the winter months, including large numbers of Hui Muslims.

Last February, during Lunar New Year holidays, two Xinjiang public security officers set up a table at one of the six mosques in the city of Sanya to register identification documents of everyone who attended Friday prayers, according to two people who attended prayers that day. One of them evaded registration by slipping out through a side door.

In September, at the start of the fall semester, public schools in predominantly Utsul neighborhoods in Sanya began banning female students from wearing headscarves to class. Videos shared with NPR show the female students being cordoned outside the Tianya Utsul Elementary School because they refused to comply.

Local Communist Party regulations now ban party members from practicing Islam and call for increased governance of Muslim neighborhoods in Sanya, according to the South China Morning Post.

Chinese security forces have also been seeding the ranks of local branches of the Islamic Association of China, a state-run body which organizes the only officially permitted hajj pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia.

One Islamic scholar says his son was approached by Chinese security officers this year, shortly before his son’s promotion as imam of a mosque and membership in the Islamic Association. NPR is not disclosing his name or location because he was detained and questioned after speaking with NPR.

“They offered [him] a full civil servant’s salary and pension for the work and an appointment as board member of a local state company if he secretly worked for them,” the scholar says.

His son refused the offer.

Source: China Targets Muslim Scholars And Writers With Increasingly Harsh Restrictions