Just recently, I’ve seen a news story being circulated and re-posted across social media with increased frequency. Nothing strange about that, I hear you say. No there isn’t, but what I do find strange is that everyone I see spreading it doesn’t seem to question or scrutinise it, when in fact it contains very little evidence, or facts. It largely stems from a BBC report on China’s Uighurs Muslim population called China’s Hidden Camps.
A lot of people reading this article are probably asking, why should I question it? It’s from the BBC. It’s China. You know what they’re like. Nudge nudge, wink wink. Well sorry about that, but these days I question everything I see in mainstream media. Iraq’s WMDs, ‘Russiagate’, the chemical weapons attack in Syria…these were all journalistic failures and brought to us by these same people. And they have an agenda.
Anyway, back to the article. Let me start by saying I’m not here to suggest there’s no grains of truth in the story, or that the Chinese Government don’t have a poor Human Rights record. At the heart of this report is a slightly grainy satellite image of a collection of buildings that clearly could resemble construction of an internment camp. They could be. However from little more than this, someone has extrapolated from this one camp (which we still have no proof what it’s being used for) that 1.5 million Uighurs are being held in similar camps across the region.
I find it one hell of a leap, one that I can see no evidence for but the word of one company of ‘investigators’, GMV, a “multinational aerospace company with experience of monitoring infrastructure from space on behalf of organisations like the European Space Agency and the European Commission”. They start from an initial leap that the supposed ‘camps’ could house 130,000 people, instead of 11,000, then go off on their tangent from this supposition.
I mentioned above that mainstream media has an agenda. This is always true. Russian media will inherently contain a Russian point of view, Chinese media the same. And so on. At this point in time, and increasing over the last few years, mainstream media here in the west has increasingly ‘shown it’s hand’ with their agenda. Global power has been shifting, away from the US and towards China. Measured by some metrics, some commentators already think the Chinese economy has overtaken the US. And for those that think it hasn’t, many think it will. Soon.
A lot of talk recently has been centred around the “trade talks” between the US & China, and tariffs and in turn, tit-for-tat tarrifs. Make no mistake about it, the two superpowers are in the middle of a “trade war”, which it is well to remember often goes hand in hand with “real” war. Nobody should need reminding this, and some of you may have noticed also an increase in agressive militaristic rhetoric between the nations in regards to the disputed South China Sea.
It is against this backdrop, among other things, that I think you should be cautious about the Chinese Uighurs story that has been spreading across the internet more and more.
What do you think? Please use the comments below to (politely) tell me if I’m wrong, or if I’ve fundamentally misunderstood this case, or the Uighurs story.
Lastly, for some extra reading on the subject of US-China trade relations, I recommend further reading on the subect by independent journalist Michael Krieger with this article here.