The world must wake up to the apartheid being practiced in China

Jasbir Sarai Srinagar
December 29, 2016 OPINION 1005 Views
The world must wake up to the apartheid being practiced in China

Racial discrimination in China is gaining epic proportions; it has far surpassed apartheid that was earlier practiced in South Africa and all other models of bigotry that the global community considers to be most evil and inhumane.

The situation in the country is not getting highlighted due to restrictive media practices and suppression of information that are an established norm in communist regimes.

In China, the Han community enjoys overwhelming privileges at the cost of all other communities, especially the Muslims and the Buddhists. Muslims form a majority in the Xinjiang Province and have more affinity with the Central Asian Republics (East Turkestan) than with China. Buddhists are the predominant religious segment in Tibet which, in any case, is a territory under forcible occupation of China.

The communist regime of China has a proclivity to project itself as very moderate, modern and benevolent. To further this perception, minorities are said to be enjoying equal rights and even special privileges. The reality is entirely different.

The benevolence is restricted only to a colourful presentation of the minorities singing and dancing in their ethnic attires for the benefit of tourists and the diplomatic community of the world.

Behind this outward bonhomie lies a diabolic plot to project the Han community as far more intelligent, technologically advanced and capable of running the affairs of the country.

Manifestations of apartheid that Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela fought against are rampant in projection of the Han community as superior in comparison to the Muslims and the Tibetan Buddhists.

Members of the Han community are getting more access to education than the other communities both within China and also in off shore locations. Better education leads to better exposure and more opportunity and thus the cycle goes on.  Intellect has little role to play in such blatant manipulation in favour of a particular community.

There are a number of other methods being applied to strengthen the divide between communities. Not allowing the minority community members into certain hotels and public places, giving to them less pay for equal amount of work, and generally looking down upon them are commonplace practices.

So blatant is China in racial discrimination that job advertisements in Tibet are discriminatory to the extent of excluding Tibetans or offering to them a remuneration that is considerably less than what is given to Chinese communities especially Hans.

This practice of offering less to locals and listing “only for Hans” in open advertisements is also prevalent in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

This attitude of the Chinese government is propelled in no small measure by the affluence that the Han Diaspora enjoys across the world. The government is at great pains to remind Han expatriates that they have a duty towards the motherland. Extending special treatment of country cousins does play a big role in the motivational exercise.

Persecution of minorities is quite aggressive most of the time. China has, by now, a well laid out policy of nipping what it calls “religious infiltration;” terrible atrocity is being committed to further this objective.

China is blatantly attempting to impose restrictions in the practice of the Muslim religion by the ethnic population. The administration is known to issue diktats calling upon the predominant Muslim population residing in Xinjiang to avoid fasting during Ramadan. The move caused widespread revulsion and the administration was compelled to withdraw the same.

What gains importance here is not the act and its fall out, but the thought process and the ideology that propelled the same. Many more such steps designed to nibble into the will of the people and their religious beliefs can be expected to take place in the future.

The plight of Tibetan Buddhists is no better. China is making a concerted effort to break their religious and ethnic character by a series of repressive measures. Buddhists monasteries are being shut down on the flimsiest of excuses and permission for pilgrimage to such locations in Lhasa that are considered to be holy by the people is hard to come by.  Tibetans are also being restricted from going out of the country by making issue of passport very difficult, almost impossible.

Despite having committed this gross violation on the people, the Chinese government today describes the protest in its disaffected provinces as separatism and more agonizingly – “terrorism,” and under the garb of security  it is carrying out untold degree of repression.

Exiled groups of the aforementioned ethnicities who have formed human rights organisations across the world to espouse the cause of their suppressed communities in China cannot be faulted for highlighting the repressive politics of the Chinese regime.

 “Tibet is increasingly being turned into one big prison and Tibetans are being treated as second grade citizens,” says Bhuchung K Tsering, an American Tibetan leader.

“They (Chinese) have trampled on the rights of the defendants to argue and appeal, accusing Uyghur’s who are rising against Chinas suppression and expressing their dissatisfaction of being terrorists,” says Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman of the World Uyghur Congress. 

The situation of minorities in China has propelled the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s (CERD) to comment on the same strongly. It has consistently been flagging some very relevant concerns about the management of discrimination by the communist regime. These concerns have, unfortunately, been addressed with contempt by the Chinese leadership with not even a rudimentary effort being made to assuage the same.

The world community needs to rise as one to condemn the most vicious form of apartheid that is now rampant in China and also take some firm action to quell the same. An inability to do so will constitute a crime against humanity since those who are being trampled upon so unashamedly can get respite from a totalitarian regime by no other means than international support.

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