More than a million people, for no reason other than their ethnicity or religion, are held in concentration camps in what Beijing calls the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Picture: Chinese police clash with ethnic Uighur women during a protest in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, on July 7, 2009. (Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images)
More than a million people, for no reason other than their ethnicity or religion, are held in concentration camps in what Beijing calls the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and what traditional inhabitants of the area, the Uighurs, say is East Turkestan. In addition to Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs are also held in these facilities.
Families in this troubled area, shown on maps as the northwestern portion of the People's Republic of China, are being torn apart. The children of imprisoned Uighur and Kazakh parents are "confined" to "schools" that are separated from the outside by barbed wire and heavy police patrols. They are denied instruction in their own language, forced to learn Mandarin Chinese. The controls are part of a so-called "Hanification" policy, a program of forced assimilation. "Han" is the name of China's dominant ethnic group.
Because Uighurs and Kazakhs are dying in the camps in considerable numbers, Beijing is building crematoria to eradicate burial traditions while disposing of corpses.
The camps, a crime against humanity, are spreading. China is now building similar facilities, given various euphemistic names such as "vocational training centers," in Tibet, in China's southwest.
At the same time, Beijing is renewing its attempt to eliminate religion country-wide. Christians have come under even greater attack across China, as have Buddhists. China's ruler, Xi Jinping, demands that the five recognized religions — official recognition is a control mechanism — "Sinicize." The Chinese, as a part of this ruthless and relentless effort, are destroying mosques and churches, forcing devout Muslims to drink alcohol and eat pork, inserting Han officials to live in Muslim homes, and ending religious instruction for minors.
These attempts, which have antecedents in Chinese history, have been intensified since Xi became the Communist Party's general secretary in November 2012.
At the same time, Xi, far more than his predecessors, has been promoting the concept of a world order ruled by only one sovereign, a Chinese one.
In broad outline, Xi's vision of the world is remarkably similar to that of the Third Reich, at least before the mass murders.
The Third Reich and the People's Republic share a virulent racism, in China politely referred to as "Han chauvinism." The Han category, which is said to include about 92% of the population of the People's Republic, is in truth the amalgamation of related ethnic groups.
Chinese mythology holds that all Chinese are descendants of the Yellow Emperor, who is thought to have ruled in the third millennium BCE. The Chinese consider themselves to be a branch of humanity separate from the rest of the world, a view reinforced by indoctrination in schools, among other means.
Chinese scholars support this notion of Chinese separateness with the "Peking Man" theory of evolution, which holds the Chinese do not share a common African ancestor with the remainder of humankind. This theory of the unique evolution of the Chinese has, not surprisingly, reinforced racist views.
As a result of racism, many in China, including officials, "believe themselves to be categorically different from and impliedly superior to the rest of the humankind," writes Fei-Ling Wang, author of The China Order: Centralia, World Empire, and the Nature of Chinese Power.
The racism, therefore, is institutionalized and openly promoted. That was painfully evident last year in the 13-minute skit on China Central Television's Spring Festival Gala, the premier television show in China. In "Let's Celebrate Together," a Chinese actress in blackface played a Kenyan mother, who had an enormous bosom and ridiculously large buttocks. Worse, her sidekick was a human-size monkey. The combination of the monkey and the woman was an echo of the Hubei Provincial Museum exhibit, "This is Africa," which in 2017 displayed photographs of Africans flush next to images of primates.
In recent years, there have been many ugly portrayals of Africans in Chinese media, and although the skit last year was not the worst, it was striking because the main state broadcaster, by airing it to about 800 million viewers, made it clear Chinese officials think of Africans as both objects of derision and subhuman. In these circumstances, it is a safe assumption that these views are shared by the Beijing leadership, which, alarmingly, is making more frequent race-based appeals to Chinese people — and not only those in China.
This century's master race has a problem, however. China, now the world's most populous state, faces rapid demographic decline. Last year's birth rate was the lowest since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. The country's population will peak in 2029, according to the World Population Prospects 2017, published by the United Nations Population Division. But the high-point could in fact come in just the next couple years, as the U.N. numbers are based on Beijing's overly optimistic assumptions. China's official demographers, for instance, did not foresee the near-collapse of the birthrate last year.
In 2024, another momentous event will occur. Then, for the first time in at least 300 years — and maybe for the first time in recorded history — China will not be the world's most populous society. That honor will go to a country the Chinese generally both detest and fear, India. When India peaks in 2061, it will have a population 398.088 million larger than China's.
Once China begins to shrink, it will shrink fast. In 2018, China's population was 4.3 times larger than America's. By 2100, China is projected to have a population only 2.3 times larger.
China's demographic path is set for decades, and it will have momentous — and extremely adverse — consequences for Chinese society and the country's "comprehensive national strength." Perhaps that is why Beijing looks as if it may be trying to compensate for collapsing demography by laying the groundwork for a race of superhuman Chinese.
He Jiankui of Shenzhen's Southern University of Science and Technology announced in November that he had used CRISPR to edit human embryos that produced live births, in this case twin
s girls. He claimed he was making the babies resistant to HIV, but there is speculation he was also trying to enhance intelligence. In any event, the announcement evoked Nazi eugenics experiments, especially because there is evidence that the Chinese government had backed He's "world's first" experiment, considered unethical and dangerous.
Certainly dangerous is Xi Jinping. "Mao Zedong may have played on the Third World's racial resentments when trying to unite former colonial peoples against white imperialists, but he thought that Communism was a global phenomenon that would eventually find a home everywhere and Mao's utopia was in the future," the Hudson Institute's Charles Horner told Gatestone. "Xi Jinping's Chinese Communist Party is not global or utopian in this way; instead, it seems in thrall to an essential 'Chinese-ness.'"
Horner sees disconcerting similarities between Xi's China and 1930s Imperial Japan. "Like Imperial Japan then," Horner said, "Xi and the Party look backward to a mythologized past when a benign Emperor brought the whole world together to bask in his glory and share his munificence."
Concentration camps, racism, eugenics, ambitions of world domination. Sound familiar?
There is a new Third Reich, and it is China.
Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and a Gatestone Institute Distinguished Senior Fellow.