Largest Opposition Party for Denying Xinjiang Concentration Camps
By Fausto Chou, Bilal Balouch and Nancy Tao
March 24, 2022
In an interview with the Deutsche Welle, Hong Hsiu-chu, former vice-speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of China on Taiwan and former chairwoman of the Kuomintang, questioned the authenticity of the reports “forced labor of Uyghurs” and the “killing of Uyghurs” by the Chinese Communist regime in Xinjiang, when asked about the detention of Uyghurs in re-education camps. Hong stressed that she will be visiting a re-education camp in Xinjiang this year and that she believes that seeing is believing. In response, Eat News interviewed many Uyghur leaders, who severely condemned Hong’s remarks.
In February, Hong traveled to Beijing to meet with Wang Yang, the Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. During the trip, she and the Chinese Communist Party mentioned the goal of “opposing independence and promoting unification” to accelerate the peaceful unification across the Taiwan Strait. When she returned to Taiwan for an interview with Deutsche Welle, she was asked by a reporter, “Taiwanese would see what happened to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the situation in Tibet where many people fled, and the suppression of Christian churches and human rights lawyers in China,” and the reporter wondered why a politician like Hong still insisted on the unification of Taiwan and China, given the many problems with the Chinese system. Hong replied, “Are all the questions you asked just now correct? Is it true? Is it true about the Xinjiang cotton (forced labor of Uyghurs)? Is it true that Uyghurs are being killed?” When the reporter raised the report of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that millions of people are being held in re-education camps in Xinjiang, Hong replied, “Have you been to a re-education camp? I’m going to see them this year! We must see to believe.” Hong also mentioned that many representatives from Muslim countries had visited these camps. “If the Uyghurs are being exterminated, why is the population increasing every year?” she asked.
Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, was not surprised by the former Kuomintang chairwoman’s remarks, “because the KMT and CCP both have a lot of similarity. In the 1940s when KMT controlled East Turkistan, they killed Uyghurs, implemented repressive policy, and today the CCP has done the same policy even more brutally, a genocide against the Uyghurs. Both parties are very nationalist and racist. The KMT killed so many of Taiwan’s native people after they fled to Taiwan.”
Ümit Hamit, former vice president of the World Uyghur Congress, current president of the Uyghur Freedom Forum, and special representative of Rebiya Kadeer, the highest leader of the Uyghur nation, was surprised by Hong’s remarks and denounced them as “very shameful. The fact that the Chinese government has been using mass killings, repression, and brainwashing since 2016 is a fact known to the world, especially since eight of the largest democracies, including the United States, Canada, Britain, France, and the Netherlands, have recognized China’s crackdown on Uyghurs as genocidal in the past year.” Hamit stressed that these old democracies do not lie and are unwilling to do so. The German government also considers the Chinese Communist Party guilty of “crimes against humanity.” According to Hamit, more than a dozen witnesses who escaped from the Xinjiang concentration camps have revealed what they were subjected to and saw in the camps. He claimed that 99 percent of Uyghurs abroad have at least one or two family members living in Xinjiang detained by the Chinese Communist Party in concentration camps. For example, in the case of Madam Rebiya Kadeer’s family, as many as 37 family members are being held in concentration camps. “It is shameful for her to say that the Chinese Communist Party’s genocide of Uyghurs could not exist with all this evidence.”
Rushan Abbas, founder and executive director of the Washington DC-based Campaign for Uyghurs, said, “it was disappointing to hear the former chairman of the Kuomintang repeat his denial of genocide, which has been the line of the Chinese Communist regime for the past several years.” Abbas stressed that the evidence of genocide against the Uyghurs is overwhelming, and undeniable and that Beijing’s secret documents show the scale and destructive power of this genocide. “Last December, an independent tribunal of legal experts determined that China was committing genocide. My husband’s entire family is missing,” Abbas said. “They are all innocent people, and my sister is a retired doctor. Ms. Hong should see her innocent face, and this is my sister; she’s been missing for over 43 months, that’s almost three and a half years, we don’t know where she is, we have no information about her at all. And China is waging war for oil, a war against freedom and democracy, a war against women and children. Ms. Hong should be well aware of the damage and suffering that the Chinese Communist Party has caused to the Uyghur people, and that China’s constant attacks on freedom, human rights, and democracy have gone beyond our homeland – occupied East Turkestan and Tibet – and now the Chinese Communist Party has entered Hong Kong. I hope Hong will reconsider her destructive statement denying genocide and stand in solidarity with all those threatened and oppressed by the Chinese Communist regime. She should choose the right side of history and not be complicit in China’s genocide of the Uyghurs.”
Merdan Eheteli, a Uyghur poet in exile from Paris, France, says reluctantly, ” What else can you expect from a party that wants to unite with the dictator even if it loses democracy and independence? The aggression and massacre of the people of East Turkestan is not just the offense of any particular party, and it is a crime of the Chinese state, the invaders. These 150 years of Chinese colonialism are nothing but a history of massacres and bloodshed for the Uyghurs. The people of East Turkestan have never recognized China’s rule, and they doubt the legitimacy of any political party that sings perfect unity.”
Dr. Bob Fu, president of the China Aid Association, which has successfully rescued many Chinese dissidents, criticized that “political scum like Hong, who has abandoned even the mainstream of the Kuomintang and was replaced as a candidate within the KMT in the 2016 presidential election, can only be recycled as trash by the CCP.” Fu believes that Hong is using the confusion of black and white and “calling a stag a horse” to prepare for becoming a member of the CPPCC. He said sourly, “The blue-bottomed, red-hearted’ Hong Hsiu-chu is afraid that she won’t even get into the CPPCC
Standing Committee. She denied the genocide in Xinjiang when there was a global consensus and much evidence of investigation and testimonies of victims.” Fu believes that Hong should be concerned about where Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese citizen who has been imprisoned in China for five years, is now. He stressed that Hong should at least make a diplomatic courtesy declaration for the freedom of Lee Ming-che and the freedom of the Taiwanese people when she meets with the top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party.
Fu also reminded the Kuomintang that the party’s disastrous defeat in the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections shows that the majority of “blue” and “green” people in Taiwan agree that “Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow Taiwan,” and that “if the Kuomintang continues to be backeard-looking and crippled, it will undoubtedly be spurned in the elections, and the Kuomintang will follow the footsteps of in the New Party [a small party that supports Chinese unification] and will be kicked out of history.”
Chan Ka-kui, a leader of the Hong Kong independence movement and Former Convenor of the Students‘ Independence Union, believes that dictators often invade other countries for reasons that are not new, from Hitler’s invasion of Poland to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in Russia now. Chan said, “Dictators often use ‘becoming a family’ as a gentle excuse, but the reality is that they unify by force. Suppose there is a family with domestic violence. In that case, it must be separated, not to mention if the countries have two different nationalities.” Chan calls on the KMT to look at the photos of how the Chinese treat the Uyghurs and consider what constitutes a “family.”
And what do KMT members think of Hong’s comments on the Xinjiang re-education camps? According to Tian Fang-lun, former leader of the KMT Youth League, Hong made a mistake by believing too much in mainland China’s reports, data, and videos and ignoring the proofs provided by the United Nations or other human rights groups. Tian stressed that if journalists were reporting on the Xinjiang re-education camps, they should present the different accounts of the two sides fairly and impartially and check whether there is any conflict between the two versions. Tian took the Russia-Ukraine war that broke out at the end of last month as an example of media bias. “The Western media kept reporting only that the Ukrainian army shot down many Russian warplanes and killed a few Russian generals, but, in terms of what was really happening, Kyiv was indeed besieged” and the Russian army was advancing. Tian believes that it is worthwhile for readers to consider whether the reports that are written under the clear influence of ideology are accurate in presenting the facts. He also believes that Hong’s remarks provide an example of why the public needs better “media literacy”.
We also attempted to interview Professor Chang Ya-chung, who used to be Hong’s think-tanker on China affairs and is the principal of Sun Yat-Sen School, but he did not comment on Hong’s remarks.