Beijing warns Turkey after Xinjiang criticism

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

Some things to read:

“The Chinese scientist and the foreign tongue” is the title of the latest essay by particle physicist Yangyang Chen, our science columnist.

“In 2009, when I returned to my room while reporting out of the western region of Xinjiang, I found a police officer reclining on the bed, smoking a cigarette and casually swiping through the photos on my digital camera.” That’s one of the entertaining nuggets in this article in the New York Times (porous paywall): “Limiting your digital footprints in a surveillance state” by China tech reporter Paul Mozur.

Our Access members Q&A with Christian Shepherd is now archived on the members Slack channel.

Have a great weekend!

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


Deng Li, the Chinese ambassador to Turkey, in an interview with Reuters.

1. Beijing warns Turkey after Xinjiang criticism

On February 9, the government of Turkey issued a strongly worded statement that condemned China for its treatment of Uyghurs as a “great shame to humanity.” This pushback — from the country that considers the Uyghurs kin — marks a new phase in the international response to the atrocities taking place in Xinjiang.

  • When China tried to discredit a part of Turkey’s critique, involving the alleged death of folk poet Abdurehim Heyit, by publishing a video of him in forced-confessional-reality-TV style, Uyghurs around the world also demanded evidence that their missing relatives in Xinjiang are alive. The #MeTooUyghur social movement was born.

  • Beijing then tried backdoor diplomacy to tamp down criticism from Ankara directly. Reuters reported on February 22, “China is lobbying hard to thwart scrutiny of its mass detention camps for Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region at the U.N. Human Rights Council’s main annual session opening on Monday, diplomats and activists said.”

  • But it didn’t work. On February 25, Turkey continued its high-profile criticism at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made no mention of the mass internment camps (which were mentioned in the previous government statement), but urged China to make a distinction between “terrorists and innocent people.” Cavusoglu added:

We encourage Chinese authorities and expect that universal human rights, including freedom of religion, are respected and full protection of the cultural identities of the Uighurs and other Muslims is ensured.

  • Beijing called these “irresponsible and bad remarks” in a foreign ministry press conference on February 27, and added that “certain people in Turkey have ignored basic facts, kept smearing China’s efforts to combat terrorism and eradicate extremists, vilify the government of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region for the measures it has taken, which is clearly ill-intended.”

With backdoor diplomacy apparently not working, Beijing seems to be moving on to harsher measures to shut down criticism from Turkey.

  • The Chinese ambassador to Turkey, Dèng Lì 邓励, told Reuters in an interview, “There may be disagreements or misunderstandings between friends but we should solve them through dialogue. Criticizing your friend publicly everywhere is not a constructive approach.”

  • He added a threat about economic ties: “If you choose a non-constructive path, it will negatively affect mutual trust and understanding and will be reflected in commercial and economic relations.”

  • “Deng said that many Chinese companies were looking for investment opportunities in Turkey including the third nuclear power plant Ankara wants to build.” He then, apparently, listed off a number of bilateral investment prospects that could be affected:

Several Chinese firms, including tech giant Alibaba, are actively looking at opportunities in Turkey after the lira’s sell-off has made local assets cheaper.

In addition to Alibaba, which last year purchased Turkish online retailer Trendyol, other companies holding talks included China Life Insurance and conglomerate China Merchants Group, Deng said.

“China has decided to temporarily close the consulate in Izmir from February 28, 2019. All diplomatic and consular services of the Izmir consulate will be handled by the Chinese embassy [in Ankara],” according to a notice on the embassy’s WeChat social media account.

The notice went on to say that the decision related solely to internal working arrangements and work efficiency had been one of the factors taken into account.

The shutdown of the Izmir consulate comes days after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a United Nations rights forum in Geneva that reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang were a serious cause for concern.

—Lucas Niewenhuis

2. Huawei PR fail

“Chinese telecom giant Huawei has issued an unusual invitation to foreign media outlets to visit its facilities and meet staff as the company pushes back against global pressure arising from US accusations that it spies for Beijing,” reports Agence France-Presse.

The invitation immediately backfired. Here are two responses from respected American journalists on Twitter:

Josh Rogin: “INBOX: Huawei is inviting me on an all-expenses-paid junket to China? That’s gonna be a hard pass. Any American journalist who takes Huawei money should be ashamed and shamed.”

Ana Swanson: “Huawei sent out a letter to US journalists inviting us to visit their campuses. The invitation was sent to my colleagues and I…via the Chinese embassy.”

Other Huawei news today:

—Jeremy Goldkorn

3. Reports of domestic violence drop in Hangzhou

Today marks the third anniversary of China’s implementation of its landmark Anti-Domestic Violence Law. Earlier this week, Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, released a three-year monitoring report (in Chinese) on its handling of family violence cases since 2016, which offers a glimpse of the law’s effectiveness on a national level and what specific trends need closer attention.

Click through to SupChina for more details.

—Jiayun Feng

—–

Our whole team really appreciates your support as Access members. Please chat with us on our Slack channel or contact me anytime at jeremy@supchina.com.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • China watched uneasily as Pakistan and India came closer to the brink of war than in many years, after the latest developments following a terrorist attack in India-controlled Kashmir by a group China refuses to call “terrorist.”

  • Chinese state media highlighted some “opinions on strengthening the Party’s political construction,” rather than the India-Pakistan spat and Washington, D.C. turmoil that consumed media airspace practically everywhere else globally. The report contained an interesting exhortation to “resolutely prevent unbelief in Marxism-Leninism and belief in ghosts and spirits.”

  • There’s something very fishy going on at the Supreme People’s Court of China, after former judge and whistleblower Wáng Línqīng 王林清 appeared in a televised “confession” and is now under investigation for “leaking state secrets.”

  • Trump delayed tariff increases on China, and Chinese state media happily repeated the optimism on trade talks. But we really don’t know any more than a week ago about where negotiations might go. China has reportedly accepted Trump’s offer of a Mar-a-Lago summit in late March, but details are not set yet. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified to Congress that “much still needs to be done” to seal a deal with China.

  • Even as China’s stock markets surged, factory output continued to shrink in February.

  • In the newest flashpoint of China’s dog ownership debate, a real estate developer in Yuncheng, Shanxi Province, has implemented a strict no-dog policy in some of its buildings, which ignited online conversations about how to balance the interests of dog owners and haters in China.

  • A reproductive health clinic in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, is experiencing some online backlash regarding its recent advertisement that features a female victim of domestic violence.

  • Yesterday, on a rare slow news day, we highlighted some opinions on the U.S.-China trade war and other issues, including this one from Edward Luce in the Financial Times: “Donald Trump is itching to surrender to China on trade.”


BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:


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The Chinese scientist and the foreign tongue

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A SupChina Quiz to the Nines

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

Happier times in Kashgar

A man smiles in a teahouse, or chaikhana, in the old city of Kashgar in 1997. Photo by Jeremy Goldkorn.