Does The Left Stand With Uighurs?

Detainee in a Xinjiang Re-education Camp. From an article titled “用情感敲开心灵大门 用说理舒缓群众情绪”, published by the wechat MP platform account “Xinjiang Juridical Administration”, via baidu baijiahao platform archive. Original image creator: 牙生 – Fair Use

As the American left forces itself to reckon with its neglect of the minority underclass in its central planning of democratic socialism, a similar reckoning should be happening in relation to China and its treatment of the Muslim minority population and its increasing reach in Africa. Under the guise of economic empowerment for the upper and middle-class China has in many ways followed the United States route to economic and military power that relied upon labor exploitation, incarceration, surveillance, control of women’s reproductive rights and environmental destruction.

The racial reckoning in the United States is hard for many leftists to swallow because the left with a few exceptions wants to blame racial and gender violence on the invisible hand of stagnant hegemonic America. With an Empire in crisis and an austerity politics crippling the domestic sphere we see a crude authoritarianism under Donald Trump who attempts to retain legitimate power through corruption, misinformation and force. Along with this comes the typical hysterical anti-communist rhetoric with a reckless Cold War narrative and sanctions policy that will only further hurt the Chinese poor.

However in a letter signed by among others, Noam Chomsky, the reason for the concentration camps sounds a lot more like capitalism than communism: “China’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through large infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become a very important strategic region for China, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.”

While accepting that centralized organization and solidarity amidst a vague ruling class communist ideology and concrete history of communist people uniting against racist Western capitalism, imperialism and the like certainly did help to create an effective and organized response to the coronavirus we still have to ask as leftists interested in not just ruling class ideology, but material underclass conditions, who was left out, and what were the labor conditions necessary to create this nation of unity and efficiency?

Re-education camps, sterilization of women, mass surveillance reliant on big tech, rapid industrialization and pollution, forced labor, market expansion and police brutality may sound familiar to some in the USA. Capitalism. Exploiting and controlling a minority population to increase wealth at the harm of the environment and further international commerce is a problem.

Now we have to recognize the ways in which China is admirable in its own solidarity with left-leaning governments

and victims of imperialism. Such allegiances have created power that counters Empire and emboldens collective leftist governments fighting back against capitalist coups and resource extraction. Indeed without building power how would China be able to lift so many in the world out of poverty? We need to end the ridiculous China-bashing that is typical of all Empires in decline. We should also recognize that in many ways China like the rest of the world does still have to abide by the rules of Western imperialism, capitalism and white supremacism dictated by the United States. This is certainly not an extensive discussion of China overall but merely a specific but significant example of a concentration camp setting that mirrors many of the human rights violations exposed by immigrant activists and Black Lives Matter here in the United States.

Communism. No one on the left wants to say they are a communist. Paradoxically no one wants to examine China because their ruling class is supposedly on our team. That’s a shame because we can be proud communists and critizise China’s ruling class precisely because we believe in the power of the people to rule their own lives. Joe Biden and Donald Trump have their own reasons for bashing China: reign of the dollar, corruption, American exceptionalism based in white supremacy, a thirst for militarism and American hegemony across the world, anti-communism based in ahistorical ideology and election talking points. Policies resulting from these including the recent sanctions must be opposed.

However, through all the noise we can trace our own reasons for opposing concentration camps of minorities, cruel policies towards migrants, physical and sexual abuse by the police state and forced labor to further the interest of the global ruling class. Black Lives Matter has exposed the police state in the United States and created solidarity across the world, including from the Chinese government. Their words ring just as hallow as ours condemning China’s human rights as both acts of partisan posturing are political games that ignore the enslavement and abuse of working people on the ground.

We would be foolish to dismiss solidarity with China’s underclass. If the left really believes in the power of communism, in the power of poor and working people owning the means of production, then we can say that the current state of affairs in global capitalism is needing a communist revolution that frees the poor minority populations across the globe from brutal market forces. The underdog isn’t the ideology of communism, it is the actualization of it.

Trump doesn’t support Muslims. He sanctions China because they are independent enough to defy American Empire. Good for them. Behind the macho posturing of Biden and Trump is crude economic bullying designed to keep the United States and our ruling class in power. While having no allegiance to this ruling class, the internationalism modeled by Chomsky includes an honest evaluation of the reasons for China’s rise and the limits in supporting an opposition to Empire that itself has hierarchal exploitation.

Chomsky is one to know that denying concentration camps is embracing simplistic prescriptions. What we need is solidarity between poor people across the globe. While admiring China’s communist affiliations in many ways we can also be honest about glaring oppressions without supporting Cold War imperialism against their people via sanctions. For we all know that the trade war and sanctions is meant to hurt first and foremost the Chinese worker not the American multinational corporation benefitting from Muslim labor. From this honest evaluation, we can trace the material conditions that created systems of oppression and both country’s people can continue protesting, often at danger to our own lives, regardless of ruling class distinctions of “national interests”.

More articles by:

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com 

Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Dean Baker
Rental Inflation Appears to be Slowing, Especially in High-Priced Cities
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
James Haught
White Christian Bigotry
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time