Apr 22, 2019

Countries, corporations refuse to criticize China over mass Uighur detentions

A sandstorm hits the city of Aral in Xinjiang earlier this month. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

There are upwards of 1 million Uighur Muslims detained in China's Xinjiang region — yet the leaders of Pakistan, Indonesia and, most recently, Volkswagen (which has a factory in Xinjiang) claim they don't know anything about it.

Between the lines: "This is a difficult issue to address precisely because China has the world's second-largest economy" and is "ruthless" when challenged, says John Herbst, a former longtime diplomat now at the Atlantic Council.

  • "Countries are not going to make this a critical issue in their relations with China," he said at an event hosted by the Turkish Heritage Organization, adding that even in the U.S., one of the few countries to have spoken out, there are many higher-priority issues.

The big picture: China has long waged a campaign of "assimilation and cultural destruction" in Xinjiang, but under President Xi Jinping it has "dramatically escalated," said Omer Kanat, a prominent Uighur activist.

  • "The camps are designed to eradicate the Uighur's religious and ethnic identity once and for all," he said, adding that it has now been about two years since their existence emerged.
  • During that time, Beijing has shifted from denying the existence of the camps to characterizing them as voluntary "vocational training centers." Officials claim their purpose is to teach Mandarin and job skills while eliminating "extremist" ideology.
  • However, as a Council on Foreign Relations report points out, "The Chinese government has come to characterize any expression of Islam in Xinjiang as extremist." Former detainees say they were forced to renounce Islam and praise the Communist Party. Some say they were tortured.

What to watch: "Xinjiang is an important link in China’s Belt and Road Initiative," the CFR report notes. "Beijing hopes to eradicate any possibility of separatist activity to continue its development of Xinjiang, which is home to China’s largest coal and natural gas reserves."

Go deeper

Why StubHub halted refunds

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With sports on pause and large gatherings banned across the globe, the live events industry has effectively ground to a halt.

The state of play: In the U.S. alone, more than 23,000 events have been canceled, postponed or rescheduled in the past three weeks.

Go deeperArrow28 mins ago - Sports

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 877,422 — Total deaths: 43,537 — Total recoveries: 185,241.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 189,633 — Total deaths: 4,081 — Total recoveries: 7,136.
  3. Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index: It's "a tale of two Americas" as the rich are more likely to work from home and the poor are more likely to report to work.
  4. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  5. State updates: Washington and California appear to have slowed their surges of new cases.
  6. 2020 updates: Joe Biden said it's "hard to envision" the Democratic National Convention going ahead as planned in July.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Renewable energy industry eyes next coronavirus stimulus bill

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The renewable energy sector is pressing for the "phase 4" coronavirus response bill to provide the aid that was omitted from the recent $2 trillion rescue package — and they might have a wider opening this time around.

Why it matters: Wind and solar developers are warning of project cancelations and layoffs as activity is frozen, supply chains are disrupted, and companies risk missing deadlines to use tax credits.