We are very pleased to publish below the report by the progressive French academic Aymeric Monville of his recent (August 2023) trip to Xinjiang. The report responds directly to the obscene anti-Chinese propaganda that has been raging for several years in the Western media regarding ostensible human rights abuses against China’s Uyghur population.
Aymeric describes his visits, along with the writer Maxime Vivas, to Kashgar, Urumqi and assorted villages. The picture he paints is dramatically different from the stereotype found in the Western media of a dystopian nightmare characterised by brutal repression and cultural genocide.
Arriving at the Kashgar bazaar in the middle of the night, I found it to be a profusion of light, joy, song and happy people in the streets. In particular, the sight of young women on scooters, their hair blowing in the wind, gave me an impression of great freedom.
He notes that, if the whole thing had been somehow staged for his benefit, it would have been a remarkable feat of organisation: “an absolute record for a Hollywood production involving literally thousands of people”.
Of particular note is the account of a visit to a de-radicalisation centre – what would be described in the Western media as a “concentration camp”:
In fact, it was a school where young people who had not committed any crimes but had been influenced by jihadism were taught not only Mandarin so that they could integrate into Chinese society, but also the constitution and a trade. They can play sport, winning table tennis competitions for example, and can go home at weekends. Recognising the basic characters 图书馆, I realise that this is the school library and ask to enter. I also asked to be shown books in Uyghur as well as Mandarin, which was done. I was also assured that the pupils’ Muslim faith is respected and I have no reason to doubt this.
The report includes an interesting discussion of the Uyghur language – its origins, widespread use, and connection to Uyghur culture – as well as various observations on the everyday activities and living conditions of the Uyghur people. There is no evidence of any “cultural genocide”; indeed massive efforts are made to protect the diverse cultures of the region. Monville points out that, if religious fundamentalist separatists were allowed to succeed in their aims, this cultural diversity would come under serious threat: “We can be sure that Uyghur culture in all its diversity, like that of the other ethnic groups living in the region, would have been very much at risk of eradication.”
The report is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in the truth about Xinjiang. We hope it will be widely disseminated.
Aymeric Monville, born in France in 1977, is the author of several philosophical and political essays. In English, he has just published “Neocapitalism according to Michel Clouscard” (foreword by Gabriel Rockhill). He is deeply involved in the fight against anti-Chinese propaganda, and has published essays in France such as “The Ramblings of the Antichinese in France” and “China without Blinkers”.
I am back from Xinjiang, where I spent several days in the company of the writer Maxime Vivas, some of whose books I have had the honour of publishing. We visited Kashgar, a town close to the Afghan border with a 92 percent Uyghur population; then Urumqi, the capital with a population of over 2 million; and finally the new town of Shihezi, developed in the 1950s by the bingtuan (兵团), peasant-soldiers sent by Mao Zedong to develop pioneer areas so as not to have to compete with the local population for water in this semi-desert region. Not forgetting a diversion to sublime Lake Tianchi, to the east of the Celestial Mountains.
Xinjiang has around 25 million inhabitants in an area three times the size of France, but only 9.7 percent of the territory is inhabitable, so I think that this visit to the major urban centres and the main roads used to reach them gives me a sufficiently representative overview to be able to talk about this region with more authority than many French journalists who have never been there, certainly not recently, and particularly since the slander campaign orchestrated by Mike Pompeo and the CIA from 2019.
It was my first visit, and the third for Maxime Vivas.
Having long understood that the campaign about the alleged “genocide of the Uyghurs”, the “genocide in progress” (according tothe French daily Libération) or the “cultural genocide”, the forced sterilisation of women and so on, which has even been voted on by the French National Assembly, is nothing more than a copy and paste of the same campaign that took place ten or fifteen years earlier on Tibet, I was obviously expecting to meet many Uyghurs living in perfectly decent conditions. Nevertheless, I was struck by the relative prosperity of this remote region of China. Arriving at the Kashgar bazaar in the middle of the night, a few hours late, I found it to be a profusion of light, joy, song and happy people in the streets. In particular, the sight of young women on scooters, their hair blowing in the wind, gave me an impression of great freedom and made me think of what their fate would be on the other side of the Afghan border, where they would lose all their rights. We asked people in the street to pose for photos with us. Everyone, including the women, happily participated.Continue reading Aymeric Monville: Report back from Xinjiang