Neo-Imperialism on Xinjiang
By Bai Fan  ·  2023-09-15  ·   Source: NO.38 SEPTEMBER 21, 2023

In recent years, the United States' China policy has been looking increasingly like a recreation of its Cold War policies of years gone by. It is falling into a morbid obsession with China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Specifically, the enactment of several ill-intended laws on Xinjiang in the past few years is typical of U.S. neo-imperialism. 

Western powers in modern times, represented by the United States, are infamously known for being imperialistic. Before World War II, the main form of imperialism was the taking of land; however, after the war, imperialist countries, the United States in particular, seek to instead control countries where they have interests by flexing their military and economic muscles, taking advantage of international organizations under their control and their financial hegemony, together with attacking target countries' ideologies.

The "warfare of ideology" is hailed by U.S. neo-imperialists as having at least two "merits": First, engaging in wars of ideology, with the goal of stirring up instability in disobedient countries and instigating "color revolutions" to subvert their legitimate governments, costs the U.S. less than engaging in hot wars. Second, persistent investment in expanding the global population that accepts America's ideologies makes it easier for the U.S. to put a positive spin on its arbitrary interference in internal affairs of other countries. Ideological infiltration thus has more far-reaching political and social influence than economic and military actions.

Human rights first became an issue of major concern under international law as a result of the worldwide introspection about the humanitarian disasters caused by crimes against humanity during World War II. After the disintegration of Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the United States and some other Western powers began to use "human rights" as a political weapon against other nations and also as an excuse to interfere in these nations' internal affairs.

The United States' Xinjiang-related laws accuse the Chinese Government of "infringing on" local Uygur people's human rights and seek to position the U.S. on the moral high ground of safeguarding international "humanitarianism." At the same time, making good use of powerful Western media propaganda, Washington attempts to confuse right and wrong, so as to cover its sinister political purposes of containing China's development and smearing its international image. 

As China's political cohesion and economic and military strength have grown, many politicians in the U.S. have recognized that the U.S. is no longer able to coerce China from a position of strength. That is why although China repeatedly reiterates that it does not seek to replace the United States' status in the world, in the eyes of extreme anti-China forces and those who are dedicated to maintaining U.S. hegemony, China poses "real threats" to the United States. So Washington now chooses to intensify campaigns to discredit China's political and social governance. 

Once this tactic against China was determined, Xinjiang naturally became the target of choice. Xinjiang is a multiethnic region that at one time came under the threat of ethnic separatism, religious extremism and violent terrorism. The situation makes it easier for the U.S. to fabricate charges against Xinjiang. Moreover, lying on China's northwestern frontier, Xinjiang borders several Central Asian countries in which the United States has never stopped trying to increase its presence. These two reasons explain why the United States frequently targets Xinjiang with its hostile acts.

Nowadays, "human rights" are the major excuse for Xinjiang-related political manipulation by the U.S. But as the anti-human-rights nature of what it has done in the world is gradually exposed and the poor human rights records of the United States at home and abroad become more widely known, Washington's "human rights" baton will no longer carry weight. However, the U.S. may well develop new tactics to target Xinjiang. China thus must always be ready to counter the misinformation contained in these U.S. attacks. 

The author is an associate research fellow with the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences  

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson 

Comments to yanwei@cicgamericas.com 

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