In China, at least a million — and perhaps more than three million — inhabitants of Xinjiang, for no reason other than their Uighur or Kazakh ethnicity or adherence to Islam, are being held in facilities meeting the definition of "concentration camps." Pictured: "The Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center," a facility where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in Xinjiang. (Photo by Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
China's Communist Party is committing crimes against humanity. American companies are helping it do so.
It is, as explained below, no longer possible to "compartmentalize" China, so the White House and Congress should use their powers to end all trade, investment, and other business relationships.
In what the Chinese euphemistically call the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Party is relentlessly eliminating cultural and religious identity and implementing race-based policies reminiscent of those of the Third Reich, at least before the mass exterminations.
At least a million — and perhaps more than three million — Xinjiang inhabitants, for no reason other than their Uighur or Kazakh ethnicity or adherence to Islam, are being held in facilities meeting the definition of "concentration camps." Internees are dying in detention. Families are broken apart and children incarcerated in "orphanages."
The Chinese state implements genocidal policies in Xinjiang and has institutionalized rape of Muslim women. Tens of thousands of minorities work for domestic and foreign companies in state-run "forced labor" programs that can be described as "slavery." China may also be killing minorities to harvest their organs.
"The facts are well established," a friend, one of America's most renowned China watchers, told me late November, referring to China's control of the Uyghurs and others. "The evidence is overwhelming, beyond dispute."
It is. "The Chinese state is mutilating the whole of Xinjiang," wrote Bill Drexel, a researcher of China's surveillance state, in June in the Washington Post.
To mutilate Xinjiang, there is "the most sophisticated use of surveillance technology for minority repression in the world today," and it is not hard to figure out where the Chinese got the tech.
Foreign companies have participated in China's determined efforts to surveil and control minorities. For example, artificial intelligence researchers from Microsoft, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Michigan State University gave keynote speeches at the Chinese Conference on Biometric Recognition in Xinjiang in August 2018 on facial recognition. Many suspect Microsoft of even deeper involvement in supplying artificial intelligence for social control.
Recently, some businesses — notably Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft — have "voluntarily restricted their facial recognition businesses" worldwide, as Drexel reported. "It's time," he wrote, "for others that are still contributing to China's repressive surveillance ecosystem to take a hard look at their policies."
That hard look should extend to corporate activities in all of the People's Republic of China, not just the Xinjiang region, especially as Chinese leaders begin to extend their unspeakable minority policies to Tibet and elsewhere.
There is only one regime in China. One cannot say "I deal only with Guangdong province" or "my only contact is with the State Administration of Foreign Exchange." The Chinese central government is unitary; there is no such thing as divided sovereignty, as in America's federal system.
Moreover, as Chinese ruler Xi Jinping has repeatedly demanded, the Communist Party must have absolute authority over all of society.
There are, of course, good people in China, but there are no good parts of the Chinese Communist Party. It is, as we can see by its actions in Xinjiang and other locations, evil.
Because the Party's crimes are so blatant and horrific, it is forcing people to make a moral choice.
Those who trade with China, invest in it, or promote ties with Beijing — in other words, strengthen or legitimize the ruling regime — have to know they are enabling the Party and are therefore complicit in its crimes against humanity.
Businesses now try to ignore their complicity, as they always have. IBM's Thomas Watson made "damnable choices," as the Atlantic's Jack Beatty tells us in his review of Edwin Black's books, IBM and the Holocaust.
Watson engaged in "unrighteous commerce" with the Third Reich as late as 1940, even after it had invaded France and during its bombing of England. IBM, for instance, helped Hitler count people by leasing Hollerith tabulating machines and punch cards, increasing Germany's ability to identify Jews and therefore round them up for extermination.
Watson was not the only corporate titan engaged in dubious dealings with Nazi Germany. "The world could have and would have been different if captains of industry as well as cultural and sports elites had acted differently in the 1930s, but they can act differently now," Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told Gatestone.
As he pointed out, this year corporate America on its own supported racial equality and other social justice causes. Businesses should, Rabbi Cooper argues, also consider the consequences of their actions abroad, specifically in China.
Presidents have clout and powerful tools — the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 — to make American companies and others act. They can effectively order U.S. companies and others out of China or reduce the scope of their activities there, and they can clearly end trade with China.
Yet business leaders do not have to be told what to do. "They didn't wait for edicts from the White House or legislation from Congress," Cooper says, referring to their actions this year. "They should act on their own and do the right thing."
China's regime is able to engage in malevolent acts because businesses enrich it with trade and investment. Cut off the trade and investment, and Chinese leaders will have no cash for barbaric projects.
American companies and Americans are enabling Chinese atrocities. That has to end.