How the thoughts of Xi led to the subs deal
An independent inquiry into the persecution of the Uighurs in the Chinese province of Xinjiang concluded in London last week after eight days of sittings, hearing from more than 70 witnesses and reading from 500 witness statements. Chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Uighur Tribunal has compiled the most extensive data base on the issue. It is due to hand down its judgement in December.
The reaction from the Chinese Communist Party was predictable. Sir Geoffrey who is a prominent human rights defender was described absurdly by CCP officials as a ‘notorious human rights abuser and a British spy’. Nice is one of several leading critics of the Chinese regime to have been sanctioned by the CCP, including parliamentarians, Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Lord David Alton. IDS, as Smith is known, described the sanction as a badge of honour.
Despite the bellicose rhetoric of the CCP, and its assertions that the million people in concentration camps are being educated voluntarily, it ignored multiple invitations to present its case. Most damaging for the CCP is the documentary evidence that links Xi Jinping directly to the repression. Even if the camps were closed, China has created a massive electronic surveillance network across Xinjiang utilising facial and voice recognition, monitoring every movement of people’s lives outside their homes. Phone calls and text messages are recorded by the state, as are downloads to mobile phones. The contents are analysed using sophisticated algorithms. Artificial intelligence and biometric data are used to track the movements of 15 million people. People who switch off their phones or leave them at home are tracked and interrogated. Family members of diaspora groups who criticise the regime from overseas are threatened, jailed or paraded on state television to denounce their relatives. Just as it is doing in Tibet and Inner Mongolia, the CCP is enforcing a policy to eliminate the local language and culture.
The conclusion of the Tribunal’s hearings comes at the same time as Xi Jinping reiterated his assertion that human rights are not universal. Foreign Minister Wang Yi had previously told the UN Human Rights Council that concepts of ‘peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom’ could not be universally interpreted.
In an article in the People’s Daily on the ‘Study of Xi Jinping’s Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’, the President responded to the question: ‘Why should we take a clear stand against the so-called “universal values” of the West?’ The doctrinaire Xi repudiated the values of freedom, democracy and human rights, asserting they created an ideological fog. Applying his strict Marxist-Leninist ideology, he argued these values were instrumental in demolishing feudal autocracy but are now just tools for maintaining the rule of capital.
Tellingly, he worries about how these values were used to dismantle the Soviet Union and employed in the Arab Spring and how they could be used to overthrow the CCP! No wonder other totalitarian regimes, including most Islamic autocracies, have sided with China over the treatment of its Muslim population. In 2019, the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, representing 57 member states, commended ‘the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care for its Muslim citizens’. Statements by such well-known citadels of freedom and democracy – Cuba and Belarus – to the UN General Assembly in 2020 and the UN Human Rights Council in 2021, commending China’s actions were supported by Islamic autocracies. The latter statement was breathlessly reported in the CCP mouthpiece the Global Times as evidence of ‘the truth about Xinjiang’ as opposed to ‘rumours and lies made by the anti-China campaign’.
Xi’s increasing insistence on ideological purity – in schools and universities, even in kindergartens, as well as public and now private enterprises – should be a warning to the West, including those who believe investment in China is the same as buying shares at home. In addition to rejecting universal values, the CCP has also proclaimed that Xi Jinping’s ‘Thought on the Rule of Law’ is the central tenet of the law itself. In a new five-year directive, the Central Committee of the CCP and the State Council stated that ‘Party committees and governments at all levels should study and understand Xi Jinping thought on the rule of law to implement the whole process and all aspects of the construction of the rule of law’. Xi Jinping ‘Thought’ is now infused into almost every aspect of Chinese life. Even the religious institutions that are permitted to operate under state licence are instructed to display photos of Xi, sing patriotic songs and pray for the ‘martyrs of the Red Army’ in temples and churches.
Some observers are now suggesting that Xi’s crackdown on all aspects of society, including global private enterprises, is the imposition of a ‘Cultural Revolution 2.1’. The circumstances of Mao Zedong’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which he launched in 1966, leading to the deaths of at least a million people, and Xi’s ‘profound revolution’ differ greatly, but there is one common feature. The programs of both Mao and Xi are centred on the accretion of personal power. There is a ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ on almost every aspect of Chinese life, including the construction of public toilets! If the CCP is becoming nervous about the growing rejection of its policies, it can blame Xi for his aggression.
Which brings us to the welcome announcement of a new agreement between the US, UK and Australia. We can only hope it is neither too late nor subverted by vested interests. If Australia’s sovereignty and security is seriously threatened in the future, a great deal of the blame can be directed at parochial provincial politics that distorted Australia’s national interest for more than a decade. The government should seriously consider leasing Los Angeles or Virginia Class submarines, the secondment of Australian submariners and technicians to the US fleet and a hybrid build to reduce the time frame and costs to deliver the new vessels as soon as possible.
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