Saudi Crown Prince defends China's concentration camps for Muslims
The leader of the Royal family charged with guarding Islam's holiest cities of Mecca and Medina, Mohammed bin Salman, arrived in China yesterday and proceeded to defend the Chinese government's policy of incarcerating one million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps.
"China has the right to carry out anti-terrorism and de-extremization work for its national security,” the crown prince was quoted as saying on Chinese television.
There's no doubt that many Chinese Muslims have carried out terrorist attacks against the government as well as been resistant to Communist ideology. But there aren't one million Muslim terrorists in China and MBS knows this. I wonder how that statement is going to play in the Muslim world, who have been agitating to get the Chinese to change their repressive policies?
China has detained an estimated 1 million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps, where they are undergoing re-education programs allegedly intended to combat extremism. The Uighur are an ethnic Turkic group that practices Islam and lives in Western China and parts of Central Asia. Beijing has accused the Uighur in its Western Xinjiang region of supporting terrorism and implemented a surveillance regime. Millions of Muslims are also allegedly being forced to study communist doctrine in the camps.
“The Chinese government has long carried out repressive policies against the Turkic Muslim peoples in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwest China. These efforts have been dramatically scaled up since late 2016, when Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo relocated from the Tibet Autonomous Region to assume leadership of Xinjiang,” read a report from the organization Human Rights Watch.
“There have been reports of deaths in the political education camps, raising concerns about physical and psychological abuse, as well as stress from poor conditions, overcrowding, and indefinite confinement,” the report continued. “While basic medical care is available, people are held even when they have serious illnesses or are elderly; there are also children in their teens, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people with disabilities. Former detainees reported suicide attempts and harsh punishments for disobedience in the facilities.”
Why would MBS give the Chinese a pass? It may have something to do with the fact that China's trade with Saudi Arabia hit $63 billion last year. And the Chinese are one of the few major nations not to castigate MBS for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In fact, it is Saudi isolation in the international community that is affecting the crown prince's standing in his own country the most.
But it's still a shocking move to defend the oppression of fellow Muslims. China is thirsty for oil and with their major clients Iran and Venezuela under sanction by the US, they need every drop they can get from the Saudis. You would think that would give MBS a little leverage with the Chinese on the Muslim question. He has apparently refused to exercise it.