Since the mid-1970s, Deng Xiaoping and his successors have sought consensus in their country, developed trade and rapprochement with the West after the disgusting Maoist “cultural revolution”. There was a golden time when even this one-party state could have a dialogue, but it was tragically defeated when on June 4, 1989, tanks rolled across Tiananmen Square.
It was then a tyranny of trade, capitalism, and mitigated by a degree of caution, including time limits for communist party bosses. Today, everything is diametrically opposed, Xi Jinping is an omnipotent emperor in the tradition of Mao.
Now the world is facing not a pragmatic one-party state, but a doctrinal dictatorship of man. And the dictator, already in the second decade of his rule, decided to erase any dissent, even at the cost of losing Western trade and cooperation.
Xi Jinping’s law on state security for Hong Kong, published in the last week of June 2020, is a fundamental and deliberate violation of the 1984 Sino-British Declaration, which guaranteed the political freedoms of the trading city for at least 50 years.
Now, Britain, as the guarantor of the declaration, cannot escape the responsibility to take the initiative to provide salvation and asylum if repression against Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists takes place.
Hong Kong could become the new West Berlin, defined by the struggle in the new Cold War, in which there is no choice but to confront, so as not to lose democratic values, prosperity and power.
Like West Berlin, Hong Kong can be saved and protected by its position, to which the views of the world community will be directed. But only if the West acts with the force of Ernest Bevin and George Marshall in the face of the threat of Stalin’s attempt to snatch West Berlin in 1948/9.
As for the ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, the western region of China, what began as repression is turning into a new “cultural revolution” every month. Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch claim that perhaps one or three million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other ethnic groups have been sent to re-education camps. Satellite images show the scale of the camps, and British diplomats who visited Xinjiang confirm this.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination describes the region as “a mass internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a zone of “no rights”, while members of the Uighur minority of Xinjiang, as well as others who have been recognized as Muslims, are treated as enemies of the state, only on their ethno-religious identity”.
The Uighurs were arrested and sent to the camps for simply having WhatsApp on their mobile phones, for relatives living abroad, and for accessing religious materials online. Often no reason is given at all. They do not have access to lawyers or a grievance mechanism, and often families do not say where detainees are held or when they can be released.
But now it’s all out of control. A study by authoritative German anthropologist Adrian Zenz suggests that “a sharp decline in the birth rate among ethnic minority communities in Xinjiang may indicate the advancement of a targeted birth prevention strategy, which, along with the destruction of cemeteries, indicates mass imprisonment, indoctrination, extrajudicial detention, surveillance, forced labour and other crimes “may indicate a crime of genocide”.
“Hide your light and hope for your time,” was Deng Xiaoping’s motto. This is how he survived Mao. It is time for the West to shed light on the new Mao and stop pretending that things can go on as before.