/ 08 April 2021

Propaganda pitch does little to soothe sceptics

It’s not every day that the Chinese Embassy in Canberra invites the Aussie media in for a briefing, but yesterday Ambassador Cheng Jingye threw the doors open in an attempt to combat “disinformation” about his government’s treatment of the Uyghurs Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang. Calling claims of atrocities in the region “distorted”, Cheng showed a propaganda video called Xinjiang is a Wonderful Land highlighting its “economic development, social stability, livelihood improvement and religious harmony”. Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Sophie McNeill said “these clumsy attempts by Beijing to cover up the truth don’t fool anyone.”

China is accused of putting a million Uyghurs and people from other minority Muslim groups into internment camps in Xinjiang. It’s claimed they are brainwashed, tortured, forced to work in factories, and some young women have been forcibly sterilised. China says the camps are for “reeducation”, but documents show that it stems from a directive by China’s President Xi Jinping to respond to a 2014 terror attack by Uyghur separatists with “absolutely no mercy”. Earlier this year, the outgoing Trump administration said what’s happening in Xinjiang is genocide, and Team Biden agreed. That’s upped international attention on Xinjiang which is making China uncomfortable, experts say. Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association president Ramila Chanisheff says efforts like yesterday’s media briefing shows China’s “trying every way to cover up the reality of the actual statistics and the pure evidence that’s coming out of Xinjiang.”

Also unhappy with China is Taiwan… Tensions are escalating after Chinese drones were spotted circling in the Taiwan-controlled part of the South China Sea. This week, China has also deployed aircraft carriers and continues to fly in Taiwan’s airspace. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu yesterday said Taiwan may shoot down the drones if they come too close. “If we need to defend ourselves to the very last day, we will defend ourselves to the very last day,” he said. China does not recognise Taiwan’s independence, and reports this morning say US military officials are concerned China is accelerating its timetable for taking control of Taiwan. That could spark a whole new level of agro between the US and China and regional instability.

Lucky we have a Squiz Shortcut out today to help you make sense of what’s going on between China and Taiwan…

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