There is something about Uyghur/Xinjiang relations that brings out the absolute worst elements of the Chinese government. Online rumor-crackdowns that snag a few teenagers in Beijing snag more than 100 in Xinjiang, an athiest state that wants to ignore religion bans Muslim party-officials from participating in Ramadan, and patronizing, paranoid dress-codes are a part of daily life. Now, let’s sprinkle more restrictions on this oppression-pie.
Reuters is reporting that college students in Xinjiang will be barred from graduation unless they are found to possess “approved” political views, a restriction that is not applied to other Chinese groups. It is rare to see such a head-on view of totalitarianism in today’s China, where ideological controls typically focus more on sculpting (e.g. Weibo censorship, the social value of being a party member, etc.) than on old-style brute force.
That is to say, it’s one thing if a college library is mysteriously certain books, but another thing entirely if the people who have read those books are barred from graduation; both are bad, but one is worse. This isn’t how a (supposedly) World Power state is supposed to behave and, as Reuters reports, this kind of political control is painfully dogmatic and soul-sucking:
University officials from Xinjiang said their institutions were a frontline in a “life and death struggle” for the people’s hearts and a main front in the battle against separatism, the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper in the region, the Xinjiang Daily, reported on Tuesday.
“Students whose political qualifications are not up to par must absolutely not graduate, even if their professional course work is excellent,” said Xu Yuanzhi, the party secretary at Kashgar Teachers College in southern Xinjiang, which has been an epicenter for ethnic unrest. […]
“As university leaders, we have the responsibility to do more to help students and teachers properly understand and treat religion, ethnicity and culture and help them distinguish between right and wrong,” he said.
The restrictions, of course, are meant to quell the East Turkestan Independence movement in Xinjiang, but the collateral damage to such rules is going to be staggering. By seeking to silence pro-independence voices, the state has also stifled any ideas outside of its “CCP-approved” spectrum, which is getting narrower by the day.
Nothing says “easing tensions” like implementing restrictions that are self-evidently unfair, excessively broad, and so draconian that one has to look back to the 1960’s for a decent comparison.
[Image via Flickr]