Turks, Hongkongers, and a famous rugby player protest Uyghur policies

Global attention to the welldocumented human rights abuses in Xinjiang continues to grow.

Protests and celebrity social media posts over the weekend: 

  • A rugby star from New Zealand posted to Twitter an evocative image together with the comment “It’s a sad time when we choose economic benefits over humanity #Uyghurs.” (See also this BBC report.)
  • In Hong Kong, around 1,000 people gathered on Sunday to show solidarity with the Uyghurs.
  • In Turkey, “Thousands of protesters marched in support of China’s Uyghurs in Istanbul on Friday and voiced solidarity with Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil after the furore caused by his criticism of China’s policies toward the Muslim minority,” reports Reuters (or see this report from Turkey’s Anadolu Agency).

In Beijing, the propaganda machinery responded:

  • Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 told Donald Trump in a Friday phone call that “China is deeply concerned about ‘the negative words and deeds’ of the United States on issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet,” according to Reuters. Xinhua also warned that “China opposes the U.S. smearing of its religious freedom.”
  • Nationalist rag the Global Times has published an “exclusive” that claims that Uyghurs said to be missing by their exiled relatives have “been found living normally.”
  • The Chinese foreign ministry’s favorite Twitter attack dog, Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚, spent today tweeting photos of mosques in China, videos of Uyghur men with beards, and other examples of how wonderful it is to live as a Muslim in the P.R.C.


  • “Chinese authorities in Tibet have tightened restrictions on a major annual festival in the regional capital Lhasa this year, banning participation by students and government employees,” reports Radio Free Asia.
  • “China’s repressed Uyghurs have long found sanctuary in Turkey,” says the New York Times (porous paywall). “But as the country strengthens ties with China, the Uyghurs feel their safe haven shrinking.”
  • Hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese businesspeople and workers are abandoning the Xinjiang city of Korla, “crippling the economy of the region’s second-largest city,” reports the Financial Times (paywall):

In multiple interviews with the Financial Times, Korla businesspeople estimated that the city’s population has halved from about 500,000 after the government implemented harsh security measures over the past few years.