As India officially bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories which spooked China as it labelled India’s move as ‘unlawful and void.’ China has a history of taking a distinct anti-India stance, be it blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group or hindering (until international pressure built up on it) India’s efforts to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist to siding with the failed state of Pakistan to help the revanchist state internationalise India’s internal issue of Jammu and Kashmir, the list is endless.
Despite China’s constant meddling in India’s domestic affairs, India has resisted from speaking up on Tibet, Hong Kong or the ethnic cleansing carried out against the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. While with utter disregard for India’s sovereignty, China slammed India over its move to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir, India, for a second time in three months, has abstained from a UN vote on Uyghurs.
It is known that the treatment of Uyghurs by the Chinese communist regime is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of the century, despite that India has hesitated to up the ante against the dragon. China has built a vast network of ‘re-education camps’, detaining over a million Uyghurs, and a pervasive system of surveillance to monitor and subdue millions from Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.
The Chinese government is following a “strike hard” security campaign which involves filling up of prisons as China’s judiciary sentenced over 230,000 Uyghurs and Kazakhs to imprisonment or other punishments in the last two years. During 2017 alone, Xinjiang courts sentenced almost 87,000 defendants, 10 times more than the previous year, to prison terms of five years or longer.
Unsurprisingly, the arrests often lack evidence of any wrongdoing and are based on exaggerated charges as the Uyghurs are made to face grave abuses and hard labour in China’s overpopulated prisons. “It’s impossible to imagine that even if a judge in Xinjiang wanted to give a fair hearing to a defendant, that such a thing would be possible,” said Professor Clarke, who specialises in Chinese law, adding, “If they’re not having mass trials, then what they’re having is, essentially, judges giving blank documents to the police or prosecutors so they can just fill in the blanks.”
The stories coming out of Uyghur prison camps are gut-wrenching and it is said that almost every Chinese Uyghur has lost someone to China’s “strike hard” security campaign. The Chinese government’s crackdown knows no bounds as recently an Uyghur student was sentenced to seven years in prison because she studied for two years in Egypt, with the latter being deemed off-limits to Uyghurs by China. Under the pretext of re-education camps, China has effectively turned a whole city into a prison.
Despite China’s gruesome crackdown, India has surprisingly resisted from slamming China. 23 countries including the likes of USA, France, UK, Japan and Canada slammed the Chinese government over its ethnic cleansing and atrocities committed against the Uyghurs at the United Nations as India abstained. The usual suspect Pakistan sided with its all-weather ally China and voted against the resolution and Belarus went a step further and praised China for its ‘steps to ensure Human Rights for Uyghurs.’
The 23 countries came out with a joint statement which stated: “ We call on China to uphold its national laws and to respect human rights and fundamental freedom including freedom of religion or belief in Xinjiang and across China and we call also on China to restrain from the arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of movement.” India abstained from signing the strongly-worded statement. India must shed its niceties and vote against China owing to the seriousness of the problem rather than abstaining. China’s hypocrisy and ill-intent is hidden from no one and India’s goodwill measures must end if they begin to appear unilateral.