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Vol. 20, No. 3, 2021
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Robert J. Lewis
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Nick Catalano
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terror in china



Nick Catalano is a TV writer/producer and Professor of Literature and Music at Pace University. He reviews books and music for several journals and is the author of Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, New York Nights: Performing, Producing and Writing in Gotham , A New Yorker at Sea,, Tales of a Hamptons Sailor and his most recent book, Scribble from the Apple. For Nick's reviews, visit his website: www.nickcatalano.n


Despite total Western dismissal of Mao Zedong’s Revolution in 1949, objective analysis reveals several noteworthy achievements his Marxist ideas spawned during the last half of the 20th century. To begin with, although accompanied by tragic social sacrifices during the period, the new regime managed to start feeding millions of starving peasants. “Finish eating your food,” American parents would instruct their kids in the 1950s, “the people are starving in China.” Not only did Marxism manage to feed 1.4 billion people but it moved the country to the forefront of the world’s economic successes in less than 50 years. It also eliminated centuries old horrific autocracy (last bastion that of Chiang Kai-shek) that buried the population with unending poverty, and did so without using the territorial imperialism practiced by most western countries during the 19th century. Mao preached egalitarianism of a sort and in 1954, shortly after he came into power; the government officially recognized 55 cultural minorities living in the country. And just in the last decade, leadership rekindled appreciation of ancient Confucianism and its brilliant philosophy of moderation, justice, equanimity and rationalism.

Visitors to China in the modern day would marvel at the support the government gives to hordes of artists who can live rent free in decent housing. They would gaze in awe at the beauty of Chinese sculpture, iconography and painting observable in hundreds of state supported museums everywhere in the urban centers. And despite the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, visitors practically anywhere in the scads of densely populated cities will constantly witness smiling well-dressed folk contentedly strolling on prosperous avenues occasionally revealing unarmed policemen.

Surprised? Go there on a visit and see for yourself.

Thus, unlike the autocratic bullying that occurred in Russia after the corrupt Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 which also promised citizens freedom and equality, the Chinese regime begun in 1949 fulfilled many of Marx’s ideals and aspirations.

Until now.

The reign of Xi Jinping begun a dozen years ago is presently conducting persecution of 11 million Uighurs ( largely Moslem adherents) in the western province of Xinjaing that rivals any cultural genocide since Hitler’s Holocaust. But unlike the infamous concentration camps of WW II, Xi and his cronies have utilized a high tech computer method of terror that baffles the imagination. Instead of the camps run by the Nazis, Xi’s government has erected “re-education camps” that employ horror more subtlety. All over Xinjiang there are millions of cameras on homes recording every movement of the Uighurs, utilizing vast computer technology that actually monitors people growing beards, fasting, or applying for a passport: all reasons for classifying them as ‘suspicious.’ The government then sends them to the camps. Even though these folk have broken no laws, the government is holding them hostage ‘extrajudicially.’

Why is this horror taking place? Xi’s government is focused on cultural censure of Uighur ethnicity because they maintain there now can be no other culture that rivals the principal Han population. The old acceptance of 55 cultural minorities is being thrown out. The Marxist ideals of Maoists is now being replaced by hackneyed authoritarianism by yet another in the long line of world dictators. Once again, as throughout human history, the oppressed revolt against oppressors and after they gain power become oppressors themselves. Marxist idealism has become a sham in China -- the same ugly autocratic totalitarianism that Mao opposed is back again.

Very little coverage of this insidious computer Holocaust is available here in the west. Last summer HBO’s John Oliver devoted a program exposing some of the terror. In his videos we see a tearful factory worker describing the policy of a maximum 2-minute bathroom break and being given an electric shock because she took more than the allotted time in the toilet. We see an interview with the CEO of Volkswagen who when told that his products from China were made by forced labour in Xinjiang denied that he knew anything about this. Oliver names other companies including Nike who obtain products also made by Uighur forced labour. Thus, western capitalism is complicit in this injustice in a way similar to the deals Krupp Steel made with Hitler. We see reports of forced sterilizations, and abortions forced on Uighur women as Xi’s Strike Hard campaign of 2014 intensified government persecutions with more ghastly methods.

A few weeks ago New Yorker writer Raffi Khachadourian reported the story of a young woman - - Anar Sabit -- who had immigrated from Xinjiang to Canada in 2014. When she went back home to visit her family she underwent delays, forced inhuman captivity, bureaucratic skullduggery, and myriad technologically engineered surveillances preventing her return to the West. After almost two years of criminal government torment she finally escaped. During this time China developed a surveillance facial recognition camera system called Sharp Eyes with some half a billion units recording every conceivable human activity including the amount of toilet paper used by patrons in public places that could exceed no more than seventy centimeters . . . or else. In the same period that Sabit had been confined some 16 thousand mosques and minarets were destroyed as efforts to totally eliminate the Uighur culture heightened.

In this writing I have not scratched the surface of the repugnant terrors of the Chinese noted by both Oliver and Khachadourian in their reporting.

What is most insidious about this terror in Xinjiang is that it goes beyond Hitler’s ‘industrial genocide’ employing new technological methods of torture. And the most cynical irony is inherent in the new implementation of ‘colonialism’-- the very institution that Mao Zedong’s revolution sought to extinguish.



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