Fraud, force and genocide: An extraordinary day in the annals of Australia's national life
5 min read
China's ambassador Cheng Jingye subjected the Australian reporters to a two-hour exercise in authoritarian propaganda.
Cheng and his apparatchiks subjected the Australian reporters to a two-hour exercise in authoritarian propaganda that even the old Soviet Communist Party would have been embarrassed to offer. It included five videos showing maniacally cheerful Uighurs dancing in traditional costume, soaring skyscrapers and snow-capped mountain peaks. An official denounced the accounts of mass incarceration as "downright lies". He explained that the high-walled encampments where Uighurs are held are actually "re-education centres" that taught singing, dancing and computer skills to a grateful population. To which Human Rights Watch Australia's head, Elaine Pearson, merely asked: "If Xinjiang really is such a 'wonderful land', then why doesn't the Chinese government let journalists and UN human rights monitors go there?" Loading Beijing officials first told the UN's human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile, that she was welcome to visit Xinjiang in June 2019. She is still waiting to be given a visa. It has to be said that the Beijing government does not have a good track record of truth telling about its operations against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. When the evidence of vast new prison encampments first the regime of Xi Jinping flatly denied that any such camps existed. They eventually conceded that the system did exist, but insisted that they were vocational education centres – like TAFEs but with six-metre walls and watch towers.

A leak of 400 pages of internal CCP documents would later confirm not only the existence of camps intended for mass repression, but that the system had been set in the motion by the president, Xi Jinping, himself with the exhortation to party officials to show "no mercy". Yet the Australian reporters were professional enough to give Cheng the opportunity of answering some real questions in the midst of this confection of deception. For instance, Cheng told the press conference that the reports of an…
Peter Hartcher
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