CJ Werleman reveals Beijing’s propaganda efforts to cover-up its repression of millions of Chinese Muslims

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By now, the horrors of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ongoing efforts to ethnically cleanse 12 million Uyghur Muslims is well established and well known.

This is thanks not only to the relentless work carried out by Uyghur expatriates and human rights activists, but also from the mouths of Beijing officials themselves in the form of a trove of leaked documents that show a desire to impart “absolutely no mercy” and deploy the “organs of dictatorship” on the Muslim minority.

In the four years since the CCP criminalised the practice of Islam in Xinjiang – or what the Uyghur know to be East Turkestan – more than three million people have been detained in the largest network of concentration camps seen since the Holocaust, with the rest of the territory transformed into a “virtual prison”.

The movement of non-detained Uyghur are tracked by GPS, facial recognition software, iris scans and other forms of hi-tech totalitarian control.

At the same time that millions of them are being detained and converted to Communist-atheist ideology, Beijing is flooding the region with millions of Han Chinese migrants to irrevocably change the area’s demography and permanently erase all evidence of Uyghur life. 

This is ethnic cleansing by any other name and, this week, a UK law firm filed a case with the International Criminal Court to investigate the CCP for genocide and crimes against humanity – the first ever attempt to apply international law to China’s systematic cleansing of the Uyghur minority.

None of this, of course, will do anything to stop China’s efforts to convince the international community that its repressive and draconian measures are anything but noble, reasonable, lawful and moral – despite all evidence to the contrary.

Now, in a series of documents obtained by Byline Times, this newspaper can reveal how Beijing is communicating its propaganda talking points through its embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions to journalists, academics and diplomats around the world.

Twenty-Two Lies

The Chinese consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, sent a packet of documents and files to unknown recipients on 5 July 2020.

In the Turkish language, and under the subject heading ‘Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’, the body of the email reads:

“Today we have prepared you 22 lies about Xinjiang and its truth. In addition, we have translated the videos of the terrorist incidents in Xinjiang and the real faces of those who claim that some of their ‘relatives have disappeared’. We have translated into Turkish and present them for your information.”

The Chinese consulate in Istanbul claims that the “22 lies” told about Beijing’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang include:

  1. Vocational education and training centres in Xinjiang being “concentration camps” that imprison more than a million Uyghurs.
  2. Vocational education and training centres in Xinjiang implementing a policy of “political incitement and intimidation” on Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.
  3. Vocational education and training centres not being in a good condition and these centres lacking medical facilities. Trainees being subjected to forced political incitement and torture and being deprived of their rights to practice their religious traditions and use local ethnic languages ​​among themselves.
  4. The prisoners in the camps in Xinjiang including the permanent residents of the US and Australia.
  5. Special operations carried out by Xinjiang against violent terrorist activities aiming to suppress ethnic minorities under the pretext of fighting terrorists.
  6. China restricting Uyghurs’ freedom of communication and movement in Xinjiang to combat terrorism and prevent radicalisation.
  7. Xinjiang having extensive oversight of local ethnic minorities.
  8. Collective forced labour against ethnic minorities taking place in Xinjiang.
  9. Many mosques being destroyed in Xinjiang.
  10. The cemeteries of ethnic minorities being destroyed in some parts of Xinjiang.
  11. The purpose of the solidarity campaign for minority ethnic groups in Xinjiang being to observe minority groups.
  12. The Xinjiang government forcibly sending Uyghur children to boarding schools and forcibly detaching them from their families.
  13. The Chinese Government forcing abortion and contraception onto Uyghur and other minority ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
  14. The Chinese Government exerting pressure on Muslims.
  15. The Chinese Government attempting to destroy Muslims through COVID-19.
  16. Rumors about “missing persons” on some media or social media platforms about the “lost” contacts or “lost” families and friends of Uyghurs abroad in Xinjiang.
  17. China using passport renewal as a weapon to force Uyghurs abroad to return to China, where they are detained without trial.
  18. A research Report on ‘Karakaş List: Analysis of China’s Detention Movement in Xinjiang’.
  19. Thirty relatives of Rebiya Kadeer were arrested without trial.
  20. Families of “activists” such as Puerhaiti Jiaodaiti, Elapati Aierken and Zaomure Dawuti have been disturbed, imprisoned or arbitrarily detained.
  21. Mutalif Nurmemet died nine days after leaving the vocational training centre. Uyghur writer Nurmemet Tohti died in the camp. Sayragül Savutbay was tortured in a camp before escaping from China. Uyghur musician and poet Abdurehim Heyit was sentenced to eight years in prison and died in the second year of his sentence.
  22. The comic What Happens to Me tells the experiences of Uyghur woman Mihrigül Tursun, who escaped from the vocational training centre in Xinjiang. She claims that she witnessed the death of nine women during her detention and that her younger brother, who was held in the training centre, died from torture.

In the attached 3,800 word document, the Chinese consulate provides only a brief rebuttal to each of these credible claims made against Beijing, with most amounting to an evidence-free denial, compiled in a single paragraph.

By comparison, the evidence against China includes dozens of eyewitness accounts, thousands of personal testimonies from family members of the missing and detained, photographs, videos, letters, satellite imagery, official CCP documents, and statements made by the Government in Chinese state-controlled media outlets.

From Denial to Counter-Terrorism

It is important to recall that, when evidence of China’s Muslim concentration camps first emerged, Beijing denied their existence. When the evidence became overwhelming, Beijing then acknowledged they were real, but said that their purpose was “counter-terrorism”.

When evidence regarding the size and scope of these detention centres was revealed, Beijing then changed its tune a third time by claiming that they are for “vocational training”.

Essentially, the Chinese consulate’s denials boil down to the introductory statement made to the intended recipients of its email – that Beijing’s crackdown in Xinjiang is required to stamp out “terrorism and violent activities” in the region and, by detaining more than three million Uyghur in concentration camps and subjecting the entire region to mass surveillance programmes, it has successfully ended “terrorism”.

The introductory statement in full reads:

“Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is the province that suffers the most from terrorism and violence activities from the provinces of China. The incident of July 5, which was provoked by the so-called “East Turkestan” terrorist and separatist forces abroad in 2009, caused the lives of hundreds of people from different ethnic groups in the region. The fact that some powers in the international community overlooked this type of incident and the so-called “East Turkestan” organisations led to various terrorist and violent incidents in the Xinjiang region in the period after this incident.

“In 2014 alone, 1.5 terrorist incidents occurred on average in the region. The Chinese central government and the Xinjiang local government are actively fighting terrorism, extremism and separatism. In order to prevent terrorist incidents and to destroy the land that feeds terrorism, the efforts to eliminate extremism have been tightened and significant achievements have been made in the region since 2017. There have been no terrorist or violent incidents in the region since 2017.

“The peace and stability of the region disturbed the so-called “East Turkestan” organisations and some anti-Chinese forces. He constantly makes literature on Xinjiang and lies to defame China.”

Facts, Lies and Videotape

The Chinese consulate’s propaganda packet includes two separate materials to support its claims.

First is a high production video featuring a young Uyghur woman, presumably a fashion model, parroting pro-Beijing talking points while giving the intended audience what she describes as “a tour of Xinjiang” but which only involves her strolling through a train station and a high-end department store.

“Check it out,” she says. “From Dior, Chanel, and SK-2, it has everything. You can find all these international brands here. Is the department store and the subway you just saw an epitome of drastic changes in Xinjiang?”

Screenshot from Chinese consultate video. Rabia Kadir’in Akrabaları

Second, the package cites an article published by Max Blumenthal and Ajit Sing on The Grayzone, a blog dedicated to “anti-US imperialism” but credibly accused by Muslims and human rights activists of weaponising Islamophobia to defend authoritarian regimes, particularly the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and the CCP.

The 2019 article is entitled ‘China Detaining Millions of Uyghurs? Serious Problems With Claims By US-Backed NGO and Far-Right Researcher “Led by God” Against Beijing’. It is anchored only on Chinese Government denials and the defaming of Adrian Zenz, an academic who obtained the ‘Karakax List’ – a CCP Government document that included the personal details of hundreds of detainees, contradicting Beijing’s claims that its detention camps are voluntary and designed to counter violent extremism.

Ultimately, China’s diplomatic campaign to convince the international community that credible claims and evidence regarding its persecution of the Uyghur are unfounded and untrue rests only on a CCP Government-produced video and a sympathetic blog article.

This should give new urgency to the need for immediate action within the United Nations and the International Criminal Court against Beijing’s actions against the minority.


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