Catalonia’s separatists must be delighted that China’s leader, Xi Jinping, is not leader of Spain. Hundreds of government documents obtained by The New York Times record how China’s mass detention of Uighurs — more than a million — and other minorities in Xinjiang were ordered by Xi Jinping.
Officials were ordered to “show absolutely no mercy” in the “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism”. If Catalonia’s separatists are pleased that he is not then those brave souls in Hong Kong who continue to defy his regime must feel a chilling wind coming from the South China Sea.
Beijing has insistently rejected international criticisms of its crackdown in the predominately Muslim region, which has seen more than a million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other minorities sent to “camps” where they are subjected to political indoctrination.
China has led tours of the camps, which it describes as voluntary “vocational training centres” intended to provide “students” with job skills. The echoes from 1930s Europe are loud and incontrovertible.
China’s power and contempt for our ideas around human dignity and right means any potential for intervention on behalf of those interned is limited. Those interned for “re-education” cannot look to the West for comfort. Does that mean we can’t do anything?
More than 3,500 Chinese students study at one of 11 third-level Irish institutions which must offer some small leverage if we choose to use it.