The mass transfer of Uyghur is not for poverty alleviation
By Aqil Abdullah
We are really tired of hearing China’s ‘best’ policies towards Uyghurs. So-called poverty alleviation is one of them which China has been carrying out for several decades. At first, the Chinese government has introduced a policy of converting farmlands into orchards for enriching farmers in Northern and Southern Uyghuristan. As a result, Uyghur farmers became more indigent than before for they had no land for farming and their new ‘orchards’ have no harvesting at all. In the last fifteen years, the Chinese government has been playing a new trick of transferring Uyghurs across China on the pretext of helping them alleviate poverty which was recognized as forced labor in the Western world.
As a matter of fact, Uyghur forced labor, one of the persecutions Uyghur people have long been facing is an old phenomenon that has been existing since the establishment of China and has been only confined to Uyghuristan(ET). It took new shapes in present China when the government launched a new policy of transferring Uyghur ‘surplus labor’ to positions in Eastern China with the coming of the millennium. According to a report of Taipingyang net on July 2020, they transferred 2729000 Uyghur workers including 364000 Uyghurs who were transferred to inner China in the last ten months. It is a huge number that we can estimate how many Uyghur youths have been relocated since the introduction of Xinjiang Aid Policy.
As we know, every action of China regarding Uyghurs has no good intention, and transferring Uyghurs is no exception. First of all, it is not alleviation poverty through finding a job in China’s other prefectures. Because, while millions of Uyghurs are transferred out of Uyghurland (ET) to work in factories across China, millions of Han Chinese are being brought to East Turkistan to settle down at the same time, with the allurement of offering a good job with high salary, free housing, better social welfare. Therefore, it is a strange paradox that they transfer Uyghur surplus labor to Eastern China in the name of employment and allure Han Chinese to East Turkistan for permanent residence.
Second, transferring Uyghurs is compulsory, not voluntary unlike one of the propaganda videos in which an 18-year-old girl was asked if she would like to go to China for making money. From their family condition, we know that they are not very poor and they don’t need extra money by selling their daughter as a slave worker. What is more, it is highly fraudulence to ask their permission for Uyghur girls are taken to labor work against their will, even though China says participation in the labor transfer scheme is voluntary. The Uyghurs there work overtime for a small amount of money and it is impossible for them to refuse or escape from the work assignment, with the fear of arbitrary detention hanging over them. Under those circumstances, who are willing to go?
Third, China’s aim of transferring Uyghur youths is not only to benefit from their labor but to assimilate them into Han ethnic culture via separating them from their own culture. Indeed, those Uyghurs leave their family, spend their days in a high-pressure indoctrination, and are forced to renounce their faith. Therefore, the job transfers are never designed to raise income, alleviate chronic rural unemployment and poverty.
If China really want to alleviate poverty in Uyghurland (ET), why do they not offer jobs to Uyghur unemployed university graduates, but rather invite Chinese middle school graduates to East Turkistan for employment, and why do they detain Uyghur parents who were doing normal business to become rich and confiscate their possessions? and why do they smuggle the natural resources of Uyghurland (ET) including tens of billions of tons of oil and tens of trillions of cubic meters of natural gas without spending any of them on Uyghurs?
However, it is useless to ask the above questions that China will never be able to answer. The most useful thing for stopping Uyghur forced labor is that we should call for the world to raise awareness of widespread forced labor in East Turkistan and adopt urgent measures to suspend imported goods made with Uyghur forced labor.