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The history of the Uighur ethnic group is complicated. Uighurs started off as an ethnic majority in Xinjiang, and they have historically been self-governed. They were originally Buddhist but were only recently forced to convert to Islam.
They only came under the governance of the Chinese during the Qing Dynasty, where they retained a strong ethnic and cultural identity until modern times. This can be seen by the fact that whenever they have been given an opportunity to uprise against the Chinese states they have, there have been many attempts of secession since the Qing rule.
They have many ties to many different regions and countries, they speak a denomination of Turkish, and genetically are extremely similar to Mongolians, although they are an entirely different genetic entity.
People of Hans-Chinese origin have replaced them as the ethnic majority in the region through laws that encourage ethnically Hans-Chinese people to emigrate to the region. China is also using job discrimination on the governmental level, where it heavily discriminates against Uighers when highering for government jobs.
China is not only committing an ethnic-genocide but also cultural genocide and doing whatever they can to suppress their history and cultural identity. They have even banned their largest expression of culture, their religion. They have suppressed it under the guise of attempting to stamp out religious extremism, but stopping religious extremism doesn’t mean banning traditional Uighur dress, and forcing them to eat pork, which their religion prohibits them from doing.
The PRC is threatening expatriate Uihgurs through violence on their family if they speak out. As Arslan Hidayat, an ethnic Uighur who spoke out against his former country, said, “As soon as you arrive somewhere, Chinese spies will take a photo of you and they’ll send it back and they’ll threaten your family members until you stop protesting [against China].”
China has even started a program of “Uihgur Trackers”, which uses AI to sort through crowds to identify ethnic Uighurs through facial recognition. This program is quickly expanding throughout China. According to the Chinese government, Uighurs are a threat that must be dealt with. They have constantly been treated as enemies of the state and they also major face discrimination within China.
As The Guardian writes, “During one of my visits, the conversation turned to the discrimination that Uighurs faced in this large, Han-majority city. Several diners mentioned the difficulty of finding accommodation, as local hotels frequently rejected Uighur visitors by claiming there were no rooms available. Even a Uighur policeman had been denied a room, someone pointed out with a laugh. Karim, a worldly polyglot who could have easily passed for a Middle Easterner, mentioned how he would sometimes go to a hotel and speak to the front desk staff in English. Mistaking him for a foreigner, they would tell him that there were rooms available, and then backtrack after asking him for his documents and seeing the word Uighur on his Chinese identification card.”
The world is fearful to stand up to China, given that they are a major geopolitical entity and some even believe they are a rising superpower. But, we have already watched what happens when we do not take a proactive approach when fighting against global genocide. The United States must remain to be a beacon of liberty, and fight this with any means possible, we cannot surrender this position for mere convenience.
This doesn’t need to escalate into war. We could approach China and ask that instead of ethnic cleansing, they simply give up the refugees. Moreover, there are several options of who to give them too, we can ask Mongolia to allow some inside since genetically they have strong Mongolian roots, and we are close allies. Or we could ask Turkey, given that they already speak the Turkish language, and would assimilate into mainstream Turkish society. We could even ask the European Union to take in some, and take in a bit ourselves.