The Chinese Embassy in the US consistently uses their platform to spread misinformation about its policies in Xinjiang. Removing one tweet is not even close to an even-handed solution by Twitter.

Placards displayed at an anti-genocide protest I John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Thanks to China, a rare moment of bipartisan Twitter agreement happened Thursday afternoon. China’s U.S. Embassy, subtle as they are, posted a poorly-disguised PR effort doubling as a news article, touting its feminist successes in it’s now-infamous Uyghur “reeducation camps.” It was, of course, disgusting. “…In the process of eradicating extremism, the minds of Uygur women,” they wrote, “were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines. They are more confident and independent.”

Anyone paying attention knows that China’s plan for “eradicating extremism” long ago devolved into transporting handcuffed Uyghurs to forced labour facilities, mandatory abortion and sterilisation programs, the destruction of ancient heritage sites, invasive household surveillance, and the forced marriage of Muslim women to members of the Han majority. Yet, after banning a sitting US President and flagging swaths of memes for “disinformation,” Twitter spokespeople firmly stated that the Embassy’s Wannsee-worthy statement did not violate their policies. However, Twitter backpedalled, removing the tweet on Friday afternoon, without explaining why. They would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids, etc. Before we get out the champagne, we should face the reality of Twitter’s double standards when it comes to China. After all, Donald Trump was permanently removed for a smaller transgression that implementing a genocide, and plenty of the Embassy’s recent tweets spreading similar;y denialist propaganda about the Uyghur genocide, such as this, this, this and this remain uncensored.

Despite this lack of concern from above, thankfully plenty of conservatives and progressives alike are actively opposing China’s oppressive policies. Indeed, with hefty Democrat support, last May the House voted overwhelmingly to impose Magnitsky-style sanctions on regime officials complicit in Uyghur persecution. In December similarly, bipartisan measures also imposed 14 Chinese officials over their alleged role in Beijing’s disqualification last month of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong.

Yet far too many, including those at Twitter HQ, remain quick to excuse and overlook. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, western politicians and media consistently tiptoed around the Chinese approach. High-profile figures such as Ursula Von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission set the tone by heaping lavish praise on the regime for donating an inconsequential number of masks to the EU’s pandemic effort last March. Businesses and prestigious universities across the US and Europe have long-documented ties to Chinese finance. A tree-hugging teacher of mine once suggested, rather casually, that the One-Child Policy, which oversaw mandatory contraception and the murder and abandonment of babies en masse, was justified as a net economic good. Such blindsided reasoning is not a haphazard response to ongoing economic uncertainties but is, in fact, a phenomenon with deep roots in the western conscience.

Diderot’s 1755 tract on Natural Rights argued “that the person who refuses to search for (truth) renounces his human condition and must be treated by the rest of his species as a wild beast” and “unnatural being.” Rousseau extrapolated on this thinking seven years later in “The Social Contract,” in which he provided the intellectual blueprint for state tyranny as an expression of the “general will” through the bloody French Revolution up until today.

China’s current framework of tyranny is too often dismissed by the Right as the inevitable product of simplistic and often racialized notions of “eastern despotism,” when it is, in fact, an evil truly of modernity’s making. From the enlightenment philosophes through to Marx, Lenin and Mao, current CCP officials are keen to pathologize and stifle dissent for a “greater good.” Xinjiang is a vital frontier zone in their “Belt and Road” strategy, and to secure it Chinese authorities must expand their workforce by outlawing traditional, rural lifestyles, hence the attempt to stigmatize Uyghur women as primitive “baby-making machines,” and the suppression of faith communities that threaten the state’s own uncompromising creed: economic materialism.

Like western apologists who perceive tyranny only when their “progressive” utopia is denied, China unabashedly lambasts the shortfallings of the United States on the world stage, because it genuinely does not view its domestic affairs as problematic, but simply the necessary coercion of virtue for the sake of development. It certainly says something not only about the level of delusion engrained in the CCPs ranks, and the minimal level of international opposition that the regime is not only openly committing genocide, but bragging about it on social media.

Yet, as far back as the third century B.C. in China, Confucian philosopher, Mencius advocated the promotion of virtue and prosperity through a policy of non-interference and called to depose rulers who did not fulfil these obligations. It is not sufficient to rally against imperialism and racism on our watch, while silently committing the ultimate intolerance: assuming that non-western communities are incapable of safeguarding personal liberties.

Just as western intelligentsia once sanitized the abuses of the motley crew of twentieth-century despots from the Third Reich to the Soviet Union, so do many now function as apologists for the Chinese oligarchy’s abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and beyond. Education and sanction-centred legislation can only go so far, and to truly threaten China’s infrastructure of oppression, western institutions must set an example for the rest of the world, and consciously uncouple themselves from the quick fix of Chinese investment and consumer goods. As China reminds us again and again, too much is at stake to do otherwise.

=

Anyone paying attention knows that China’s plan for “eradicating extremism” long ago devolved into transporting handcuffed Uyghurs to forced labour facilities, mandatory abortion and sterilisation programs, the destruction of ancient heritage sites, invasive household surveillance, and the forced marriage of Muslim women to members of the Han majority. Yet, after banning a sitting US President and flagging swaths of memes for “disinformation,” Twitter spokespeople have firmly stated that the Embassy’s Wannsee-worthy statement did not violate their policies.

Fortunately, plenty of conservatives and progressives alike are actively opposing China’s oppressive policies. Indeed, with hefty Democrat support, last May the House voted overwhelmingly to impose Magnitsky-style sanctions on regime officials complicit in Uyghur persecution. In December similarly, bipartisan measures also imposed 14 Chinese officials over their alleged role in Beijing’s disqualification last month of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong.

Yet far too many, including those at Twitter HQ, remain quick to excuse and overlook. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, western politicians and media consistently tiptoed around the Chinese approach. High-profile figures such as Ursula Von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission set the tone by heaping lavish praise on the regime for donating an inconsequential number of masks to the EU’s pandemic effort last March. Businesses and prestigious universities across the US and Europe have long-documented ties to Chinese finance. A tree-hugging teacher of mine once suggested, rather casually, that the One-Child Policy, which oversaw mandatory contraception and the murder and abandonment of babies en masse, was justified as a net economic good. Such blindsided reasoning is not a haphazard response to ongoing economic uncertainties but is, in fact, a phenomenon with deep roots in the western conscience.

Diderot’s 1755 tract on Natural Rights argued “that the person who refuses to search for (truth) renounces his human condition and must be treated by the rest of his species as a wild beast” and “unnatural being.” Rousseau extrapolated on this thinking seven years later in “The Social Contract,” in which he provided the intellectual blueprint for state tyranny as an expression of the “general will” through the bloody French Revolution up until today.

China’s current framework of tyranny is too often dismissed by the Right as the inevitable product of simplistic and often racialized notions of “eastern despotism,” when it is, in fact, an evil truly of modernity’s making. From the enlightenment philosophes through to Marx, Lenin and Mao, current CCP officials are keen to pathologize and stifle dissent for a “greater good.” Xinjiang is a vital frontier zone in their “Belt and Road” strategy, and to secure it Chinese authorities must expand their workforce by outlawing traditional, rural lifestyles, hence the attempt to stigmatize Uyghur women as primitive “baby-making machines,” and the suppression of faith communities that threaten the state’s own uncompromising creed: economic materialism.

Like western apologists who perceive tyranny only when their “progressive” utopia is denied, China unabashedly lambasts the shortfallings of the United States on the world stage, because it genuinely does not view its domestic affairs as problematic, but simply the necessary coercion of virtue for the sake of development. It certainly says something not only about the level of delusion engrained in the CCPs ranks, and the minimal level of international opposition that the regime is not only openly committing genocide, but bragging about it on social media.

Yet, as far back as the third century B.C. in China, Confucian philosopher, Mencius advocated the promotion of virtue and prosperity through a policy of non-interference and called to depose rulers who did not fulfil these obligations. It is not sufficient to rally against imperialism and racism on our watch, while silently committing the ultimate intolerance: assuming that non-western communities are incapable of safeguarding personal liberties.

Just as western intelligentsia once sanitized the abuses of the motley crew of twentieth-century despots from the Third Reich to the Soviet Union, so do many now function as apologists for the Chinese oligarchy’s abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and beyond. Education and sanction-centred legislation can only go so far, and to truly threaten China’s infrastructure of oppression, western institutions must set an example for the rest of the world, and consciously uncouple themselves from the quick fix of Chinese investment and consumer goods. As China reminds us again and again, too much is at stake to do otherwise.

Georgia Leigha Gilholy is Associate Writer for Foundation for Uyghur Freedom. Follow her on Twitter @llggeorgia.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store