ABE SHOULD ADVOCATE FOR OPPRESSED MINORITIES IN COMING SUMMIT WITH XI
A “new cold war” is deepening between the US and China.
On October 10, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) issued a 2018 annual report vividly portraying China’s egregious human rights violations. The bipartisan commission is co-chaired by Republican members of Congress—Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Chris Smith.
The report strongly condemns the Chinese government for arbitrarily interning more than one million members of Muslim minorities, many of them Uighurs, in “political reeducation camps” in western China. Calling the communist nation a repressive state on a par with North Korea, the report further likens it to South Africa during the apartheid era.
The report notes that China’s “dire human rights situation” has further deteriorated “by virtually every measure” under Xi Jinping, who became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) in 2012 and president the following year. It further states that the CECC plans to urge the International Olympic Committee to review Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and also nominate Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Tohti is currently serving a life sentence in a Chinese prison on charges of separatism.
Explaining China’s evolution following the birth of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the report calls into question Beijing’s failure to democratize itself and end its one-party dictatorship even after achieving economic superpower status. Included in the report are 17 detailed recommendations on how to cope with China, such as advocating for political prisoners, including human rights provisions in all bilateral agreements, and insisting on reciprocity.
Nearly half the 318-page report is dedicated to human rights issues, listing a wide assortment of human rights violations in China, including the tragic death of Mrs. Ayham Memet at a “reeducation camp” last May at age 78. She is the mother of Dolken Isa, president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC).
Isa was serving as secretary-general of the WUC in 2012, when the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, a privately-financed think tank I founded in 2007, invited him as a speaker to an international symposium in Tokyo entitled: “Freedom and the Groundswell of Democratization in Asia: Japan’s Role.” Representatives of three ethnic groups—Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Mongols—participated in the event. Isa fled China to Munich in 1996, where he now lives as a German citizen.
The Chinese government sent Isa’s 78-year-old mother to the internment camp for the simple reason that her son criticized the Chinese system while abroad. The elderly Mrs. Memet breathed her last in an adverse environment. Clearly, her internment was meant as a means to punish Isa. At these relocation centers, many others—elderly people, young children, and those in poor health alike—are known to have died. The CECC report graphically enumerates these deaths.
How much anguish did Ms. Memet suffer in the last stage of her life? And how deep have been her son’s grief and anger? The international community will never condone such inhumane treatments. Rubio and Smith told the media they will continue to castigate China, viewing the repression of Muslims in China as “a crime against humanity.”
Tough Measures against China
The day Rubio and Smith met the press, on October 10, the Department of Justice announced it had taken new tough measures against China, indicting a senior Chinese intelligence officer for attempting to steal trade secrets from US aviation and aerospace companies. Xu Yanjun, a deputy division director in the Ministry of State Security (a civilian Chinese spy agency) had been arrested in Belgium on April 1 and extradited to the US on October 9.
Xu’s arrest and extradition were only scarcely reported in Japan, but specialists have taken special notice of this incident as a development that could significantly change US-China relations.
Explained Akio Yaita, a China expert and deputy foreign editor of the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun:
“This was the very first time the US government requested a third country to extradite a Chinese citizen to the US. This means that, from now on, China will not be able to engage in espionage activities in countries with which the US has an extradition treaty. I am sure the Chinese are taking the situation very seriously.”
Yaita went on to explain that since around December 2013, China has targeted American high-tech corporations, including GE Aviation, paying “experts” stipends and expenses associated with their travel to China in an effort to steal state-of-the-art American technology. Targeted alongside GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric Co., are several other major American aviation companies.
Last spring, American agents succeeded in enticing Xu to travel to Belgium, where he was to contact a resident American engineer and steal confidential information from him. So the Americans dared lure a Chinese spy to Brussels. Why did the US government employ such aggressive tactics?
As the ongoing trade war between the US and China continues, the US is pressing China to stop: 1) currency manipulation; 2) stealing confidential information and technology from foreign companies; and 3) putting workers to slave labor at lower pay.
Rampant Industrial Spies
The factors above have allowed China to manufacture products for export at low cost and compete with the leading economies of the world. Viewing this Chinese practice as totally unfair and unjust, the Trump administration has imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese imports.
If America manages to get Beijing to meet demand 2), it will become impossible for China to steal foreign information and technology. And China will almost immediately be bogged down economically, as virtually all of its industrial products rely heavily on technologies it has stolen from nations like the US and Japan. That is exactly what the Trump administration is aiming at.
On the same day it had Xu extradited to demonstrate its resolve not to condone China’s espionage activities against the US, the Trump administration announced detailed plans to more aggressively police foreign investment in the US.
A new law regulating foreign investment in the US was already enacted last August. The new review system calls for measures to be adopted to protect American corporations in 27 industries related to information technology and the military—such as aviation engines and parts, aluminum smelting, petrochemistry, and nanotechnology. Because foreign investors will be required to submit declarations regardless of the amount of investment, the real purpose behind the new system clearly is to shield American corporations from Chinese money.
By superimposing Vice President Mike Pence’s powerful October 4 US-China address at the Hudson Institute on these countermeasures Washington has swiftly adopted, one quite clearly sees how wary America is of China.
And now US Congress is condemning China’s repression of the Uyghurs’ human rights as “a crime against humanity.” Now is the time for Japan to fall into line with America wholeheartedly as its Pacific ally.
Beijing is viewing Japan as an easy target for “smile” diplomacy. I cannot but recall what happened to Japan following the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. Driven into the corner by the economic sanctions imposed by the international community, China developed smile diplomacy, perceiving Japan as “the most fragile spot in an international link of economic sanctions.” Japan played into China’s hands, readily lifting its sanctions and asking the imperial couple to visit China to cement bilateral relations. China at the time managed to get the international community to remove sanctions by adroitly using Japan. After that, it once again began to show its true tyrannical colors, arbitrarily laying claim to the Senkaku Islands and other territories in the region.
Japan cannot afford to make the same mistake this time around. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must coordinate more closely with President Donald Trump in backing America’s latest resolve to stand up to China. When he meets Xi Jinping in Beijing later this month, Abe must resolutely speak up for the oppressed minorities in China, including the Uyghurs. (The End)
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 824 in the October 25, 2018 issue of The Weekly Shincho)