06 December 2009

Cambodia and Uighurs

Pivoting off slim's last post, further evidence of how far Cambodia has come can be seen in the fact that now Chinese Uighurs are seeking asylum there.

Unfortunately, China still has a lot of influence in southeast Asia, because China is pushing Cambodia to deny them asylum. China has also succeeded in capturing many of these Uighurs before they cross national borders. Several of those who were attempting to get to Cambodia were picked up; some heading to Vietnam just disappeared.

Even worse, though, China is abusing many of the laws regarding extradition and citizenship. Apparently, an ethnic Mongolian man who went to Mongolia asking for asylum was returned before his appeals were done. A Uighur with Canadian citizenship was sent to China from Uzbekistan while he was visiting family.

The Chinese have also attempted to intimidate Uighurs in the US. The head of a Uighur refugee group was followed by Chinese agents. Others have had their families back home threatened. This shows an interesting asymmetry, since the US is incapable of doing anything similar to anti-US activists in China.

Unlike my usual pessimism, I believe there is more that can be done here. Of course, grandstanding and hounding China publicly won't do any good. In fact, it's likely that even privately asking them to do things differently won't either.

Instead, the US should work with China's neighbors to accept these refugees. It won't help the ones who don't get over the border at all, but we have already made a precedent by not sending the Guantanamo Uighers back. If the US wanted to also increase its reputation in Central Asia, it could actually accept the refugees. American Muslims are the best propaganda we have.

In the end, though, I don't think it will do much more than just help the few able to get out. Unfortunately, PRC stability relies too heavily on Han nationalism, and Han nationalists in Xinjiang are terrified of the Uighurs there. The repression won't end soon, no matter what we do.

No comments:

Post a Comment