China Cables: will the world look away?

Leaked Chinese Communist Party documents have exposed systematic surveillance, persecution and internment of Muslim Uighurs. Up to one million people are reportedly being held in "re-education" camps in northwest China. Commentators speculate on how the international community will react to the publication of the China Cables.

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Der Nordschleswiger (DK) /

Human rights not trendy

Even the leak of these documents will hardly lead to international condemnation, fears Jan Diedrichsen, chairman of the NGO Society for Threatened Peoples, in Der Nordschleswiger:

“In recent years the importance given to human rights in international politics has been drastically reduced. ... The United States of America has already had the president announce that human rights should also be used as a bargaining chip in trade talks with China. Business is big in trend, but human rights are not. The European Union has been preoccupied with its own affairs for years (see Brexit) and is far from closing the gap between its own moral claim and power-political action for human rights. Autocrats and dictators around the world are happy about this western passivity.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Expose China's lies

Le Monde, on the other hand, points out how pressure could be exerted on Beijing:

“China's new bout of Orwellian repression must be condemned in the harshest terms. The mobilisation of the families of prisoners living outside China has led to several people being released. But it's above all the Chinese government that has gone on the offensive by inviting foreign delegations to visit 'model' centres built specifically for that purpose. In view of these lies, the efforts of the UN Human Rights Council, which is demanding independent investigations and access to Xinjiang Province, must be supported.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Europe must make its abhorrence clear

The Irish Times agrees that the ties with China should not be strengthened at any price:

“The China Cables put to rest the absurd claim by the Beijing government that what it is doing in Xinjiang is an education and vocational training programme, where the camps have a 'boarding school' ethos. ...The savagery that leaps from these cables has no place in the modern world. If increasing our dealings with China involves having to hold our noses to this sort of outrage, then that's too high a price. The Irish Government should join with other EU states with a sense of human decency, and make its abhorrence clear to the Chinese regime.”

El País (ES) /

Test phase for a surveillance model

El País explains why the surveillance of the Uighur community should make the world sit up and take notice:

“What is particularly worrying is that in constructing its repressive system Beijing is using the most advanced technologies, including the interpretation of metadata, the monitoring of mobile phone apps, and face recognition systems. Once this model has been tested and perfected with the Uighurs it can easily be exported to the rest of the population and any other country. We shouldn't forget that China is leading the way on 5G technology, the next generation of data transmission technology that will revolutionise everyday life all over the planet.”