The Uyghur situation in China is a risk to international security – Liberal Article
The current acts of genocide in China against Uyghur Muslims have not gone unnoticed. Acts such as forced labour, family separation and the repression of Uyghur births are clear indications of the UN definition of genocide. It is undeniable that these acts are inhumane and wrong, but what do these acts mean on a larger scale? The responses from the rest of the world are significant in the outcome of international order and security.
Globalised action is important in maintaining the current world order; a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. In my opinion, a liberal world order allows economic and social prosperity, and greater peace and freedom (although, admittedly, these are not seen everywhere). We have followed a similar world order since the end of the Cold War.
If the world stands by, China will realise the fragility of our world order: one that depends upon nations and international bodies committing to their promises. If China believes it has the ability to challenge the UN’s sanctions, who is there to stop them?
A common saying is that actions speak louder than words.
Although interesting to contemplate, I am not suggesting that NATO and its allies invade China. That would bring about Mutually Assured Destruction. But if those who have fought for a peaceful world order are not capable of defending it, then it is really as successful as we think?
Another key reason to impose stronger force on China is to avoid another Cold War. Although my perspective is very Western-centric, it is undeniable that the Cold War created significant political and economic problems. Global politics evolved into a grab for power for nations on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Vietnam and the Korean War caused the US to suffer thousands of deaths and fuel significant distrust in their government. In China, millions died due to famine under Mao’s regime, with the true number of lives lost still hidden. The proxy wars had huge negative impacts as well. Vietnam’s countryside was demolished by American bombing, resulting in large amounts of poverty and homelessness.
To avoid a divided world, the UN and its strongest members must take a stand against China’s actions.
I have proposed a lot of theoretical concepts and questions, without providing many answers. Although I do not have the correct answer, my main point is to show that the rise of a hegemonic power will destabilise the system. To prevent events such as the genocide of Uyghur Muslims, the collective must demonstrate its power and ability to challenge China. If we allow states such as China to continue with such horrendous acts, the world will eventually become subordinate to states with big guns and willingness to spend it on their military.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Charlie Papamichael
Point of Information
Headed toward a Thucydides trap – a Conservative Response
I do not recognise the ‘World Order’ to which my colleagues refer.
The world is no longer unipolar, and no longer belongs to America. It is shifting. The UN, to be frank, is merely a forum for states to play politics. It has no capacity for meaningful action on its own.
With China placed at the heart of the security council, we can be assured of the UN’s inaction in the face of these humanitarian atrocities.
The issue is twofold:
(1) the Communist Party of China (CCP) perceive solving the Uyghur ‘problem’ as necessary for national consolidation. Xinjiang (the province in which this is occurring) has consistently had separatist sentiments. Turkic Uyghurs are different from the Han Chinese, and the CCP want to eradicate that. In short, they will not give up their ‘re-education’ in the face of meaningless international bluster.
(2) China is too strong. It is everywhere. Firstly, there is zero chance of intervention: the Chinese nuclear arsenal. Secondly, there is very little chance of damaging sanctions: it would hurt those imposing the sanctions, too much.
The Uyghur situation will not be ameliorated unless China’s hand is forced, and there is no way, at present, to force said hand.
International leaders need to ask themselves whether Uyghur lives are a price worth paying, for economic and security gains. Are they willing to take the people of their nation into this dispute with them? Should there be consequences to confronting the Chinese juggernaut, it will be ordinary people that will bear the brunt.
In short, to employ an overused phrase: “we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t”.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Alexander Dennis
The world will stand idle – a Labour Response
The active genocide of the Uyghur Muslim population in China should be at the top of the world agenda. History has revealed to us the horror of genocide multiple times and an apathetic position cannot be justified by any government. Unfortunately, I fear even if governments around the globe are moved to anger, they will avoid confrontation with China at all costs.
The UN, as Charlie points out, may be the protectors of the world order we know, but what actions can they take? Sanctions and inspections are the chief tools of the UN but these, in reality, provide little muscle.
The ‘China cables’ leak in 2019 proved that the CCP was using ‘vocational education centres’ to intern and brainwash the Uyghur Muslim population. In light of this news, the UK joined a number of EU states in urging China to allow UN Inspections of the facilities led by Michelle Bachelet (the high commissioner). Flash forward one year and we find that the Chinese government is carrying out full-scale genocide on the same population.
Sanctions also fail to deliver real change. Taking North Korea as a case study, the economist Marcus Noland said: “The sanctions had no perceptible effect on North Korean trade”.
The UN is further limited by the fact China is the second-largest contributor to the general and peacekeeping budgets. If economic pressure could not be applied to a nation the size of North Korea there is little hope of tackling the Chinese Juggernaut.
Where does this leave us? Much like Charlie, I find myself at the unpalatable conclusion that the UN will posture but ultimately stand idly by. I also agree that the outcome may well be a return to the East versus West standoff we saw throughout the 20th century. Undeniably, division will bring problems for all involved, but the current crop of key world leaders seem unable to avert this disaster.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Henry Mckeever
Point of Information
To learn more about how POI thinks the UK should work with or against China, check out POI’s Podcast #1.
I am a second year student currently reading International Relations and Modern Languages at the University of Exeter.
Hello, I’m Alexander Dennis, and I am going into my third undergraduate year at the University of Exeter. I study Politics & International Relations, with a possible year abroad hanging in the balance. My particular interest in politics really started in early 2016: yes, it was ‘Brexit’. I was at once intrigued, and confused, by something so critical. From that baptism, I have become somewhat addicted to political discussion, intrigued by issues ranging from drugs policy to taxation. So I followed my nose: I applied for a degree in the subject.
I am entering the third year of a BA in History and Ancient History at the University of Exeter. I have a fascination with the past otherwise and you would hope so, otherwise I may have chosen the wrong degree. But, writing for POI gives me the opportunity to talk politics which is something I simply can’t avoid.