RTHK's English-language current affairs programme that takes "The Pulse" of Hong Kong ... and the world around it.
Friday saw the close of China’s annual “Two Sessions”, the back-to-back meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Some 3,000 delegates had travelled to Beijing for the meetings, which opened on March 3rd against the backdrop of a trade war with the United States, a slowing economy, and increasing international suspicions concerning Chinese technology companies, especially Huawei.
But, although this was barely discussed at these meetings, concern ins increasing in the international community over China’s crackdown on religious expression on its Muslim minorities. At the beginning of March, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, meeting in Abu Dhabi, adopted a resolution on “safeguarding the rights of Muslim communities and minorities and commended China for its treatment of Muslims. The resolution attracted immediate criticism and accusations of kowtowing to economic pressures. Despite initial denials from China, the United Nations says a million Uyghurs have been detained in “political re-education camps” and Human Rights Watch reports that surveillance and repression in Xinjiang has increased dramatically over the past two years. Two weeks ago, producer Yvonne Tong visited China and Kazakhstan to talk to members of Islamic communities there.
On Monday, China’s State Council issued a white paper titled, “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang” containing a detailed list claiming that since 2014, China has “arrested 12,995 terrorists, destroyed 1,588 violent and terrorist gangs, seized 2,052 explosive devices, punished 30,645 people for 4,858 illegal religious activities and confiscated 345,229 copies of illegal religious materials.” It reiterated the need for its “boarding schools” … I’m sorry: “education and training centres” to rehabilitate and eradicate terrorism and extremism in Xinjiang. As our producer Yvonne Tong reported last week, detainees in the re-education camps in Xinjiang are not only Uyghurs but also ethnic Kazakhs. She went to Almaty in Kazakhstan, to find out more.
Kazakhstan shares a 660-mile border with China. On Tuesday, in a surprise television address, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation. He’s been the country’s leader since its independence from the Soviet Union almost 30 years ago. On Wednesday the Kazak parliament agreed to change the name of its capital Astana to Nursultan in his honour. But the change in leadership is likely to do little to improve the human rights situation for those who’ve been affected by China’s increasing pressures on Muslims.