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中國的歐威爾省 — 一次對新疆/東突厥斯坦高壓政策的批判

2017/8/22 — 15:38

天山 @ 新疆 l  randomix@ flickr  —  Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

天山 @ 新疆 l [email protected] flickr — Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

【文:王一一飛】

English Version See Bwlow :‘China’s Orwellian Province: A critique on Xinjiang/East Turkistan’s suppressive policies’

1. 前言

廣告

要談新疆/東突厥斯坦問題,要先從自己在新疆/東突厥斯坦的第一天開始說起。

自己第一天到新疆/東突厥斯坦,我們的車輛到達一個公路上的中途站。自己到中途站使用洗手間,在中途站內的店舖走。當時,自己見到店內買中藥等貨品,只有數名穿紅色臂袖的店員,習慣記錄身邊一切的自己便馬上拍照。

廣告

就在這時,店內其中一名店員說,不要拍照。

自己以為只是不能為中藥拍照,可以為店內其他景觀拍照。自己便馬上問店內另一人,自己可不可以不為藥材拍照,為店內其他地方拍照?

沒有想到,那名店員用十分兇惡的眼神望我,弄得雙方彊了一會,站在這裡對望對方數秒,不知道怎麼辦,直到有朋友走過來帶走我,把我帶出店外,為我解圍。

走遠了,到另一間店內食飯。自己想,今次應該沒有事,所以為店舖門口拍照。沒有想到,朋友還是告訴我,以後不要隨意在店舖拍照,不要拍攝公安、軍人、保安、便衣警察,還告訴我剛在店內那群賣中藥的人全部是中共的便衣人員,只要穿紅色臂袖的就是他們。

自己人生都不多遇到這類情況,甚至在中國其他城市和地區都較少遇上。聽起來,不但有一種壓抑、受監視的感覺,還感覺到自己身在一個國家無孔不入監視自己的地區。

我馬上回應:「連拍照的自由也沒有嗎?」

朋友馬上回應:「因為這裡是新疆!」

講這段經歷,是為了讓讀者、聽眾知道,中共政權在新疆/東突厥斯坦執行的政策是高壓的歐威爾式監視和壓制。即使小說《1984》中的極權社會難以複製,國家無孔不入的監視和壓制卻正是1984極權社會和新疆/東突厥斯坦現況的共通點。

這一段經歷令自己明白新疆/東突厥斯坦問題有不少不為華人所知的內情,反而刺激自己旅途中觀察一些細節、問當地漢人和維吾爾人問題(當然要問得小心)。儘管自己當時接觸、遇上的不少是中共的宣傳機關下的信息,但在觀察、交談下還發現了不少蛛絲馬跡。回家後,自己多看了不少中方、國際社會、維吾爾方的說法,更令自己確定一些觀察結果的真確性,還補充了不少資料!

這次報告能出現,全靠不少維吾爾、漢人朋友協助,他們部分人大膽提示令自己明白了不少當地社會的問題! 這次報告不會公佈他們的身份,以保障他們身份的匿名性。

另外,我們深入理解的這片大地,漢人喜歡叫「新疆」、不少維吾爾人喜歡叫「東突厥斯坦」。因此,我們兩種地名都會提及。

寫作時決定不稱當地為「自治區」,而是「省」。因為自治根本有名無實,當地人根本不可能選舉自己政府,不會決定自己內部政經文化宗教事務。

接下來,我們會向各位全方位分析中國政府的高壓政策。除了警察國家式的監視和壓制,中國政府的高壓政策還包括在人口、語言、宗教政策上的同化措施。當然,經濟上的壓迫都是一個重要的因素。最後,我們會講到新疆/東突厥斯坦問題未來會如何解決!

2. 人口

根據中共官方的說法,中華人民共和國至統治新疆/東突厥斯坦以來,有人口的大量流入,這類流入都幫助了新疆/東突厥斯坦的開發。第一次是1949年中共攻入新疆/東突厥斯坦後,大量漢人組成「生產建設兵團」移入當地。第二次是改革開放後,大量漢人人口移入當地。根據中共說法,大量人口進入,幫助當地開墾和發展,同時尊重少數族群的文化,對當地有益。

當然,銅幣有兩面。如果一面是漢人的大量湧入,另一面就是少數民族的文化受漢人流入和同化威脅。如果一面是人口移入幫助當地經濟,另一面是當地人就業機會受威脅。

我們這一行,有機會在烏魯木齊和石河子走一圈。如果你有機會走一圈,你會發現這兩座城市街上的漢人遠遠多於維吾爾人等少數族群。石河子更是變得與一般漢人城市無異,街上大部分是漢人,小店、街上招牌大部分是漢文,卻沒有維吾爾等少數民族的語言,只剩下一群學懂了當地人舞蹈的漢人,偶爾在廣場上跳舞。嚴格來說,石河子有點像新疆/東突厥斯坦的未來,一個幾乎完全被同化與漢化的地方。可見,不論政府是否有意,漢人大量流入令新疆本地人口比例、文化受不少威脅!

回家找資料,發現石河子是漢人進入新疆後開發的城市,但城市有9成人都漢族。即使在烏魯木齊,在2010年,漢族人口甚至佔74%。根據林保華《1949年後中國對新疆的統治》一文的計算,新疆/東突厥斯坦維吾爾人由1954年佔新疆省3/4人口,下降到2000年只有45%人口,漢人卻大量增長。

根據中共的說法,如此巨大的人口移入有利開發當地、一帶一路。可是,這樣做都令少數民族在就業機會、資源分配上面對更大競爭,不利當地民生。

可見,人口大量流入後,雖然開發了當地,但不少維吾爾人從經濟發展得到的成果依然不足,更面對人口流入對自己文化的威脅!

3. 語言篇

上一部分提到當地人經濟機會、文化受漢人威脅。可是,根據中共的說法,中國很尊重當地人的文化和語言。我們旅行途中,聽過親共的人提到中國己經民族平等,會尊重其他民族生活方式,都聽到有親中的維吾爾人和漢人說新疆/東突厥斯坦有雙語教育。

沒錯,當地文化語言仍有一定程度保留,可是,硬幣的另一面卻是他們己經開始受威脅。我們在一些歌舞表演、街上招牌都會看見維吾爾語,街上仍有說維吾爾語言的人。不過,私底下和一名維吾爾人談話時,談了一會,那位維吾爾人卻告訴我一件事,維吾爾的語言十分難學,大學還要學數年才學得懂。他還提到自己與一名維吾爾青年談話,提到那名青年連「電腦」的維吾爾語都不懂,只能告訴他去學好自己的母語。以上可見維吾爾青年己經開始淡忘自己的語言。

實情是,即使維吾爾人的語言仍被容許,己經開始受威脅! 街上看見不少店舖、街上招牌,雖然漢文維吾爾文都有,但當中不少把維吾爾文縮在一邊,似乎在顯示漢人文字有更大的重要性。不過,還有不少招牌只有漢文沒有維吾爾文,石河子大部分招牌更是只有漢文的。根據張冰莉的《新疆民族矛盾中展望曙光》,雖然是有「雙語教育」,在具體落實時,部分學校老師講課時只許用漢語,有些學校學生不能說維語。可見維語在未來淡化的威脅!

4. 宗教篇

在宗教上,值得我們與幸的是,那裡仍然有伊斯蘭教的清真寺,自己都參觀了兩間。可見,伊斯蘭教仍被容許。

不過,不值得我們興幸的是,共產黨只容許聽話的伊斯蘭教。我們和當地一名親共的漢人談話,談到宗教。這位漢人說:「中共統治下有宗教自由,只要你愛國愛黨,不反對社會主義,就可以被容許!」

在中國參觀清真寺,清真寺愛總是有一些愛國愛黨標語,叫你「感恩黨聽黨話跟黨走」、「感恩習主席、感恩共產黨、感恩偉大祖國」。可見,清真寺全部清一色是中共控制的。所有清真寺、教派都要受政府批准,內部有便利中共控制的組織,活動都要政府批准。

自然地,中共眼中象徵「保守、不聽話教派」的風俗都不會被接受。自己在新疆/東突厥斯坦時,遇到一名有鬍子的伯伯和他身邊的一名女士。我問女士是否所有人都可以留鬍子,女士只說:「長者可以,年輕人不許」。不過,之後她卻不願詳細地說下去。當然,正常伊斯蘭地區,女性可以有面紗,你卻不見新疆/東突厥斯坦女士有。正常伊斯蘭地區,很多人都會留長鬍子,在新疆/東突厥斯坦卻只見少量老年人會,大部分人很難。理由是中共眼中,這類風俗象徵一些保守、不聽話的教派,因而不被容許! 新疆人大在2017年的《新疆維吾爾自治區去極端化條例》更是禁止留長鬍子和穿戴蒙面罩袍。

中共眼中,不穿過自己的底線,就可以有自由,何其寬鬆。可是,這條底線卻是很多維吾爾人難以接受的、高壓的宗教政策。

5. 警察國家

你到新疆/東突厥斯坦,就會見到數之不盡的軍警佈防在不少街道上的重要角落,有時還會在街上店內看見文章一開始提過的便衣人員。儘管軍警們通常不許我們為軍警人員拍照,但自己還是偷偷拍了好幾張照片。事實上,幾乎所有城市入口、旅遊景點、酒店、醫院甚至餐館都有安檢,街上和酒店內還有不少閉路電視! 與親共的人談,他們說中國政府需要反恐才用高壓政策。

對於這點,自己都不反對。畢竟將新疆/東突厥斯坦弄成警察國家一樣,真的能防止不少恐怖主義活動。自己去旅行沿途都沒有見過一次恐襲。不過,警察國家是「雙刃劍」,如果銀幣的一面是「反恐保障安全」,另一面就是「極權式的壓制」。因此,街上有大量便衣、警察,一方面是防止恐怖活動,另一方面是卻是監視我們有沒有反對中共的行動和言論,一旦有對中共不利的示威、活動就馬上壓制。

沿街上走、在酒店內,你會察覺城內的閉路電視一點也不少。如果在民主國家,你也許也不太放心,因為政府、商業機構相片和錄影的使用、保存方式即使會受公眾和其他機構法律約束,仍出現美國斯洛登事件一類的醜聞。不過,在中國一類專制國家,這類數據會如何處理,會否變成監視國民的利器?

在如此高壓下的環境,我都察覺到人們說話更小心了。在甘肅等其他省份,有時我們香港和中國朋友之間私底下都會願意講關於中國的敏感政治問題,甚至希望改善人權。不過,來到新疆/東突厥斯坦,大家講得更小心了。看見維吾爾人,問他們中國語言政策的情況,他們都不太願意得罪中共,最多只願意向我暗示一些值得憂慮的情況! 問他們當地人可不可以留鬍子,他們只敢說老人可以年輕人不可,但他們不會主動告訴你他們喜不喜歡中共這樣做! 有一次,我在公路另一個中途站,進入另一間店舖,只見有一個小店主。自己只問她為何新疆那麼多軍警這條簡單的問題,她卻馬上轉移話題問我喜不喜歡其他種類的水,還說我們己經民族平等,不願多回應。可見,在高壓的控制和無孔不入的監視下,很多人都很壓抑,不能暢所欲言。

可見,新疆/東突厥斯坦一帶的高壓措施雖然能夠反恐,卻同時為這一帶引入了極權式監控和壓制。在這一帶走,看到兩個標語。一個是「人民公安永在你身邊」,令不少人有一種「Big Brother Is Watching You」的感覺。第二個是「溫馨提示: 營區監控全覆蓋 請自覺規範你的言行」。看完之後,心中馬上明白,這裡,就是中國政府的「歐威爾省」。

6. 解決

以上可見,中共的政策,正如林保華所言,有同化和高壓兩種。同化是指在人口、語言上推動漢化,將所有少數民族文化同化。高壓是指壓制不利中共的宗教教派,將當地變成警察國家。

當地維吾爾人怎樣看待中國政府? 我接觸的維吾爾人當中,有的十分愛國愛黨,有一次我們探訪一個維吾爾民居,他們說只向中國人賣好的水果,只賣壞的水果給日本。有的十分恨中國人,甚至發動恐怖活動。我都接觸到一些會願意和我們漢人接觸的維吾爾人,但他們會私底下表達對中共語言、留鬍子政策的不滿。可見,維吾爾人當中的確有不滿。

如何解決這類不滿? 中共眼中有兩種想法。可是,我認為這兩種方式都不能根本地解決當地的問題! 因此,我還會提供3種其他人都有想過的辦法。

1. 沿用高壓政策: 中共和清王朝一樣,認為中國只能用高壓政策解決伊斯蘭問題。高壓政策背後的想法是伊斯蘭教徙好勇鬥狠,難以教化,因而支持將新疆變成警察國家。短期而言,暴力確實是將問題在一定程度上壓住。可是,以暴制暴只是惡性循環。事實上,清王朝、民國軍閥、中共高壓政策數百年來統治下,經常發生當地人反抗運動、騷亂一類問題。即使今天中共加強反恐、監視、高壓政策,都未有停止這類問題。這樣下去,恐怕只會增加維族人不滿,令當地問題更為惡化。

2. 銀彈政策改善民生: 當然,中共的另一套方法是改善當地人生活,令民怨減少。一帶一路、西部開發正是為了改善西部地區基建、交通,令他們經濟條件得以改善。當然,這樣能在一定程度上減少人民怨氣,自己都認同我們需要改善人民生活。不過,貧窮只是新疆/東突厥斯坦問題的其中一部分,當地問題還來源於高壓的監視和打壓,更是來自維吾爾人在語言、宗教、人口問題所受的威脅。即使他們富裕起來,也會因這類問題而感到不滿。

3. 中國政府容許真正的自治:在我眼中,中國政府容許自治,而大部分維吾爾人願意接受,是一種和平的解決方式。假如中國政府出現開明派/中國出現民主政權,新政府應該容許新疆/東突厥斯坦建立特別行政區,也可以容許聯邦制讓地方成為一個決定自己事務的州。特別行政區/州採用民主憲政、保護人權、防止暴政,他們可以決定自己內部的政治、經濟、文化、宗教事務。如果中國政府容許地方有更大自主、自由,就能很大程度上緩解了不少矛盾。

當然,問題是現在的中共政權領導層十分強硬,伊力哈木等維族學者連主張自治都被關進牢房。也許這一點要等中國民主轉型或者出現開明領導才可以改變。

4. 中國政府容許和平獨立分離:在西方,加拿大容許Quebec進行獨立公投,英國都容許蘇格蘭這樣做。即使西班牙不許,加泰羅尼亞自己都自行辦一個。可見,容許當地人和平公投自決前程/跟據憲政程序由議會決定統獨問題,將自主權交給當地人,都是可取的。

問題是,中國很多人太重視國家主權,不太尊重個人、共同體的自主發展。萬一選舉後決定獨立,但漢人不接受選舉結果,會不會產生族群衝突? 這點我們都不知道,只希望維漢兩族能和平理性溝通,決定一個大家都接受的方法。

5. 武裝革命:不過,假如中國政府反對用和平的解決方式,繼續沿用高壓政策。上層改革無望,官逼民反,維吾爾人恐怕只剩下起義這種方法。由於新疆/東突厥斯坦民風不像香港和台灣,未有非暴力鬥爭意識,維吾爾人起義恐怕是暴力色彩較重的。現在維吾爾人的群體性鬥爭,除了騷亂,就是恐襲。(在這裡,筆者要帶頭盔,告訴各位自己絕不認同!)

假如中共有一天面對政經危機,由盛轉衰,中央政府無法有足夠的維穩金錢和人員,維吾爾人也許會借勢起義獨立。

當然,問題是這個結局會是一個無益和血腥的。現時的新疆/東突厥斯坦有不少漢人,即使是近幾十年才來到,都己經對這片土地建立了深厚的感情。旅程中,一名漢人告訴我他不但是黨員,還是當地兵團的一份子,受過軍事訓練,一旦有事發生,會不惜一切保護中國在新疆/東突厥斯坦的利益。假如維吾爾人要不惜一切要武裝獨立,但漢人要不惜一切要維護自己在當地的家園,一次種族戰爭就會出現,甚至會可能出現1990年代當年在南聯盟波斯尼亞的種族仇殺。

不過,即使後果是如此血腥,假如中國政府拒絕改善他們對新疆/東突厥斯坦問題的態度,不願意讓他們自治,不願放棄高壓政策,恐怕維吾爾人就只剩下這條路。

7. 結語:到一次新疆/東突厥斯坦,才知道當地矛盾、問題的複雜! 理解到當地人在人口、宗教、語言文化、經濟問題上遇到的挑戰,還理解到他們所受到的高壓政策是何等極權。不管如何,寫了那麼多,只希望長話短說,希望當地維吾爾和漢族的矛盾能有一天和平解決,不要走向高壓、內戰、暴力這條不歸路。

 

1. Preface

Before discussing the Xinjiang/East Turkistan Problem, I will first tell you what happened on the first day of my Xinjiang/East Turkistan trip.

On the first day, our car arrived at a highway’s midway station. I got out of my car to use the midway station’s washroom and entered their shops. At that moment, I saw a few Chinese shopkeepers with red arm sleeves and they were selling Chinese medicine. As I were accustomed to take photos on interesting things beside me, I decided to take a photo immediately.

At this moment, a shopkeeper in the shop suddenly commanded me not to take any photos.

After listening, I thought that I couldn’t take any photos on the Chinese medicine but I could still take photos on other interesting things in the shop. Therefore, I asked the other shopkeeper a few more questions about taking photos.

I didn’t expect the shopkeeper to look at me ferociously after hearing my question. As a result, both the shopkeeper and I turned the situation into a stalemate as both sides stared at each other for a few seconds without solution. Everything ends until my friend brought me out of the shop quickly soon after he noticed everything.

Soon after, we arrived at another shop for a meal. As I believed that this shop is different from the previous one, I took a few photos at the front of that shop. Still, my friend informed me to think twice before taking a photo. My friend also informed me to beware of police, soldiers, security guards and Plain clothes police who are wearing red arm sleeves and never take photos on these people.

I have seldom seen these situations in my life and these scenarios seldom occurred in other cities and places in China. Therefore, I suddenly had a depressed feeling and I gradually became aware of the state’s penetration into every aspect of your life.

After listening to my friend’s advice, I asked: ‘Is taking photo a part of my freedom?’

My friend reply: ‘Well, here is Xinjiang.’

By telling this story, I believe that readers can truly understand the fact: The Chinese Communist Party in Xinjiang/East Turkistan is executing a series of Orwellian monitoring and suppressive scheme. Though a genuine copy from the Orwellian totalitarian society is a difficult task, the state’s enormous penetrative monitoring and suppression is the common essence for both Xinjiang/East Turkistan and the totalitarian society in the book ‘1984’.

The above experience allowed me to understand that there are inside information about Xinjiang/East Turkistan problem which normal Chinese neglect, this stimulated me to observe deeply and ask questions with the Hans and Uyghurs during the journey (Of course! I asked them carefully). Though many information came from the Chinese Government, observation and deep discussion can still deeper my understanding. After returning home, I have read some sources from the Chinese, Uyghurs and the international community. This confirmed some of my findings and helped me to get a more detailed picture.

Without the help and information of many Hans and Uyghurs, this essay will face a huge difficulty in completing. In order to protect their identity, this essay won’t leak their personal information and it will keep their identity confidential.

Besides, while the Hans like to call this land ‘Xinjiang’, the Uyghurs like to call this land ‘East Turkistan’. Therefore, I decided to discuss about this place with both ones.

When I am writing, I have decided not to name this place as ‘autonomous region’. Instead, I will name this place as a ‘province’. That’s because ‘autonomous region’ is only in name and the locals are not allowed to elect their own local government and determine their own internal political, economic, religious and cultural affairs.

In the next part, this essay will analyze the suppressive policies of Chinese government in different perspectives. Other than turning Xinjiang/East Turkistan into a police state with surveillance and suppression, the Chinese government will execute ‘assimilation’ in terms of population, language, religion. Of course, economic suppression is also an important area. At last, this essay will discuss different solutions of Xinjiang/East Turkistan problem.

2. Population

According to the Chinese government, since the People’s Republic of China ruled Xinjiang/East Turkistan, there was a great flow of Han Chinese into this area and this helped Xinjiang/East Turkistan’s development. After 1949, a lot of Hans grouped together to enter Xinjiang/East Turkistan. Soon after the announcement of Reform and Opening Up in 1978, more Hans moved into this region. According to the government, while the flow of Hans into this region helped local development, they respect the local culture and it is beneficial to Xinjiang/East Turkistan.

However, a coin has 2 sides. If one side of the coin is the great increase of Han population, the other side of the coin represents the ingenious fear of the decline of their culture due to the threat of assimilation. If one side of the coin the drastic economic development due to increase of population, the other side of the coin represents the lost of local’s employment opportunity.

In this trip, we gained an opportunity to go for a walk in Urumqi and Shihezi. Amazingly, you will discover that the Hans have a huge population comparing to a small group of Uyghur in these two cities. Shihezi has no difference with normal Han cities, because most of the people who are walking on the streets are Hans, most of the signs on the street and the shops use Han language instead of Uyghur’s language. The only remaining Uyghur culture is their folk dance, which the Hans learned and performed on opened area. In some sense, Shihezi represents Xinjiang/East Turkistan future, a place which completely assimilated by the Hans. Regardless of the true intention of the government, the consequence of the great increase of Han population in this region posts a great threat to the local culture.

Shihezi is a city developed soon after the Hans entered Xinjiang, but over 90% of the city’s population is Hans. Even in Urumqi, in 2010, Hans even occupied 74% of the total population. According to Lin Bo Wah, while 3/4 of Xinjiang/East Turkistan’s population is Uyghurs, it drastically decreased to 45% in 2000. However, the Hans faced a great increase in their total population in these years.

According to the Chinese Communist Party, such a great flow of population can help local development. However, this will also place the Uyghurs in a difficult situation because they will face great competition in their employment opportunity and resources distribution.

Though a great flow in of Hans stimulated the local development, the Uyghurs can’t satisfy a lot from the fruits of economic development and their culture is facing a lot of threat.

3. Language

From the above, this essay mentioned that local’s economic opportunity and culture are facing a great threat from the Hans. However, according to the Communist Party, they respect local’s culture and language. In our trip, some pro-communist individual claimed that China had achieved racial equality and they would respect the lifestyle of other races. They even claimed that their schools in Xinjiang/East Turkistan had ‘Two languages education’ (Teaching both the languages of the Hans and the Uyghurs).

Be fair, the local’s culture is preserved in a certain degree. However, the other side of the coin represents the fact that this culture is facing a lot of threats. When we were observing Uyghur’s local dance and the signs on the street, we could observe the Uyghur’s language. On the streets, we could still observe people who were speaking Uyghur’s language. However, when I was discussing with an Uyghur privately, that Uyghur informed me a fact: Uyghur’s language is very difficult to learn and you need to spend a few years to learn their language in University. My Uyghur friend even told me a story. In this story, my friend spoke with a Uyghur teenager, that teenager even didn’t understand how to write and pronounce the word ‘computer’. After this incident, my friend urged that teenager to understand Uyghur’s own mother language and never forgot the importance of learning your own language. From the above, readers can observe the fact that Uyghurs are starting to forget their own language.

In reality, though Uyghur’s language is still allowed, it is facing a lot of threat. When travelers observed the signs on the streets and the shops, though some signs will show both the Han and Uyghur’s language, these shops will put the Uyghur’s ones aside and make them smaller. This implies that the Han language is having a greater importance. For some signs, there are only Han languages without the Uyghur’s ones. In Shihezi, most signs are only written in Han language. According to Chang Pin Li, though there is a educational programme named ‘Two language education’, in practice, some schools only used Han language, some students can’t speak their own Uyghur’s language. This showed that the Uyghur’s language is facing a great threat in the government’s assimilation policies.

4. Religion

In terms of religion, we are glad that there are plenty of Islamic mosques. I have also visited 2 of them. This showed that Islam is still allowed.

However, we are disappointed about the fact that the Communist only allowed Muslims who listened to their orders. When we are discussing with a pro-Communist Hans and speak about religion. The pro-Communist Han replied: ‘The Party allowed religious freedom, as long as you are patriotic, loyal to the Party and don’t criticize Socialism.’

When you are visiting Islamic mosques in China, these mosques will always hang some patriotic and loyal slogans, asking people ‘Thanks for the Party, Listen to the Party’s words and follow the steps of the Party’, ‘Thanks for President Xi, Thanks for Communist Party, and Thanks for the great motherland’. This showed that most Islamic mosques are allowed because they are the ones controlled by the Party. All mosques, religious group required official recognition. The religious organizing bodies are favorable to Communist control and their activities should gain government’s recognition.

Religious groups and practice that are regarded as conservative and not loyal enough are banded by the Party. When I was staying in East Turkistan/Xinjiang, I met an old man with a beard and a lady beside him. I asked the lady whether every person in this region were allowed to grow a beard. The lady replied: ‘Only elders, but not the young people.’ However, she refused to explain more. In normal Islamic region, female are allowed to wear a veil, but female in Xinjiang/East Turkistan are not allowed. In normal Islamic region, many male will grow a beard, but only a few old men in Xinjiang/East Turkistan will and the remaining people can’t. The reason is obvious. In the eyes of the Communist Party, these customs represent religious groups that are conservative and disloyal to the Party. In 2017, ‘Xinjiang’s People’s Congress’ also officially ban these customs again.

In the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party, as long as you don’t cross their bottom line, you can have freedom. However, this bottom line is unacceptable and suppressive to many Uyghurs.

5. Police State

When you are visiting Xinjiangg/East Turkistan, you will observe a huge group of police and soldiers position themselves on many streets, you may also observe some plain clothes police (The type of police I mentioned at the front part of this essay) in some corner of the streets. Although police and soldiers usually don’t allow us to take photos on them, I still take a few secretly. In fact, nearly every entrance of the city, important tourist spot, hotel, hospital and even some restaurants will install a lot of security checks and police. The streets and hotels are full of Closed circuit television. When you speak with the people who support the Communist, they will tell you that the Chinese government installs these measures in order to stop terrorism.

Be fair, I won’t reject this idea. Making Xinjiang/East Turkistan into a police state can really prevent some terrorist activities. In my trip, I haven’t seen any terrorist attack and we were secure. However, police state is a double-edged sword, if one side of the coin is ‘Anti-terrorism and public safety’, the other side of the coin is ‘totalitarian suppression’. Therefore, on one hand, the police can stop terrorism. On the other hand, the state installs them to supervise people’s act, to prevent and suppress anti-communist acts and speech. When there are protests and activities which threaten the Party, these police can suppress them easily.

When you are walking on the street, walking inside the hotel, you will easily observe plenty of Closed circuit television. Even when you are staying in a democratic country, you are less likely to feel easy about them. Though the government, companies are restricted by some laws and institutions and they are monitored by the public, scandals like the ones exposed by Snowden will still appear. However, in authoritarian countries like China, the usage of CCTV’s data is uncertain and it may turn into the State’s weapon in public surveillance.

Under this suppressive environment, people speak more carefully. In other China’s province like Gansu, we can still talk about some sensitive China’s political topics privately among friends from Hong Kong and China, we can speak about human rights privately. However, when we arrived at Xinjiang/East Turkistan, many people spoke more cautiously. When we met the Uyghurs and asked them something about the official language policies, they fear about the Party and they only hinted some worrying situation. When we asked them whether they can grow a beard, they could only tell us the basic fact: ‘Old people can but young people can’t’. However, many of them won’t tell you whether they are satisfied with this policy! On one occasion, I arrived at another Highway midway station, I entered another shop and I saw one shopkeeper. I only asked a simple and not sensitive question: ‘Why there are so many police and soldiers in Xinjiang?’ She immediately changed the topic and asked me whether I like different types of water and tell me that all races are equal now and refuse to answer my question. From the above, we can conclude that many people are depressed and can’t freely express their opinion due to the severe suppression and supervision.

Therefore, while Xinjiang/East Turkistan’s suppressive policies can counter terrorism, it bring totalitarian control and suppression to this region. When I was visiting this Orwellian Province, I saw two slogans. The first one named ‘The people’s police are always beside you’, which gave people a feeling similar to the slogan ‘Big Brother is watching you’. The second one named: ‘a warm reminder: The whole area is under our supervision, please beware of your speech and act.’ After observing this, I understand the fact that this place is ‘The Orwellian province’ of China’s government.

6. Solution

From the above, the Communist Party’s policies, according to Lin Bo Wah, are separated into 2 types: ‘Assimilation’ and ‘Suppression’. Assimilation implies China’s government conspiracy to allow the Han population, language and culture to monopolize the whole China. Suppression represents suppressive policies against religious groups and practices which are disloyal to the Party and policies which turned this region into a police state.

How the Uygurs view the Chinese government? When I was discussing with a few Uygurs, some were very patriotic and loyal to the Party. On one occasion, we visited one Uygur family, they only sold excellent fruits to Chinese and they sold the bad ones to the Japanese. Some of them really hate Chinese and even raged terrorism. Some were willing to discuss with Han people/Chinese like me, but they would privately inform us their discontent on Chinese government’s ‘language’ and ‘beard’ policies. Therefore, there are discontent within the Uygurs.

How to solve them? In the eyes of the Communist Party, there are 2 methods. However, they are not that effective and I will provide 3 more solutions.

1. Continue suppressive policies: The Chinese Communist Party and the Qing Kingdom are similar in one area. Both regimes believe that only suppressive policies can solve everything. The underlying idea of these suppressive policies is the idea that Muslims are violent, hard to educate and police state suppression is the only solution. In short term, violence can really suppress these problems in a certain degree. However, a tooth for a tooth is only a vicious cycle. The Qing regime, the warlords in the Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party have used suppressive policies for a few hundred years, but these policies never stop the locals joining rebellion and having riots. Though the Communist increase surveillance, anti-terrorist and suppressive acts, they never stopped these acts from happening. This vicious cycle will only increase the hatred of the locals and create more problems.

2. Use money to improve people’s basic living standard: The Chinese Communist Party will also try to improve people’s living standard to control their anger. By ‘One-Belt One-Road’ and other Western developmental plans, these plans can improve the Western region’s infrastructure, transport, and improve their living standard. This can control people’s anger in a certain extent and I believe that improving their basic economic rights is essential. However, eliminating poverty is not an adequate solution because suppression, state monitoring, language, religion and population problems will still bring discontent to Uygurs even when they become richer.

3. Chinese government allowed genuine autonomous ruling

In my eye, if the Chinese government allows genuine local autonomy and the majority of Uygurs accept this solution, this can provide a peaceful solution to the problem. If some open-minded reformers become the ruling group of the government or China become a democratic regime, the new government should allow Xinjiang/East Turkistan to establish ‘Special Administrative Region’, or they should allow Federalism, which enable the locals in Xinjiang/East Turkistan to become a State which can determine their own affairs. The future ‘Special Administrative Region’/‘State’ will establish democratic constitutionalism, protect human rights, prevent tyranny, they can practice ‘Internal Self-determination’ by determining their own internal political, economic, cultural and religious affairs. If Chinese government allowed greater freedom and local autonomy, this can also reduce a lot of tension between the Hans and the Uygurs.

Of course, hardliners are occupying the Party’s leadership. Even scholars who are urging for genuine autonomous rule like Ilham Tohti were also put into prison by the Party. This solution can only occur when democratization occurs in China or an Open-minded leadership changes everything.

4. The Chinese government allows peaceful separation

In the Western World, Canada allowed Quebec to stage referendum to decide whether they would become independent, Britain will also allow Scotland to do so. Even the Spanish government don’t, Catalonia have enough freedom to stage their referendum. Therefore, allowing the locals to use a referendum or democratically elected

Local Parliament or Constitutional procedures to give the locals autonomy to decide their own future is acceptable.

Though this solution is idealistic, it will face a huge problem. Many Chinese overemphasize the importance of national sovereignty without enough respect to individual and community autonomous development. If the election or Local Parliament decided to make Xinjiang/East Turkistan independent, but the Hans refused to accept the electoral result, will this result in a great ethnic conflict? As we are not certain about this, we only wish both Uygurs and the Hans can peacefully and rationally reach a decision accepted by both sides.

5. Violent revolution

However, if the Chinese government refuses to use peaceful means and continues their suppressive policies, reform will become hopeless and the Uygurs can only use violent rebellion to solve problems. While Hong Kong and Taiwan’s society encourage non-violent protests in general, Xinjiang/East Turkistan’s culture is completely different and they encourage violent ones. In nowadays, some angry Uygurs usually join riots, some extreme ones will even create terrorist attack, which I personally don’t agree at all.

If the Communist Party faced a huge economic or political crisis and finally decline, the Central government won’t get enough money and personnel to suppress all regions. If this finally happen, the Uygurs might take advantage of this and start their violent struggle for independence.

Of course, the end of this story is a bloody ending which no individual will gain any benefit. Nowadays, Xinjiang/ East Turkistan are occupied with a lot of Hans/Chinese like me. Even many of them came for only a few decades, they have a huge emotion on this land. During this trip, a Han Chinese informed me that he was not only a party member, but also a Chinese militia who received military training. When there are emergent situation, he will give up everything to protect China’s interest and his home in Xinjiang. If Uygurs start their violent struggle for independence while the Han Chinese want to preserve their home and basic interest in Xinjiang, a civil war between two race will happen. In worse scenario, it will even turn into civil war similar to the ones in Bosnia, Yugoslavia in 1990.

 7. Conclusion

Visiting Xinjiang/East Turkistan allowed me to understand the enormous conflict and problems in this region. I finally understood the locals’ discontent on the government’s religious, population, language, cultural and economic policies. I finally understood the government’s suppressive and totalitarian policies. After writing so much, I only wish the Han Chinese and Uygurs can peacefully resolve the conflict without stepping into the road of suppression, civil wars and violence.

 

 

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