Trump, Xi Jinping and John Bolton: How China Came Around to its Oppressive Uighur Policy

Did President Trump support Xi Jinping on the Uighur detention centers in Xinjiang? If he did, why did he come around to doing it?

Chinese oppression of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang came up for another round of discussion in world media after a new report threw more light on the charge of forceful sterilizations happening in the restive province. That also brings up an old row about President Donald Trump's ambiguous stand on the issue.

About two weeks ago, President Trump signed into law the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, which aims to punish Beijing for human rights violations in Xinjiang. But around that time it was also revealed that Trump had supported China's policy of setting up detention centers for the Uighur people.

The charge was leveled against Trump by John Bolton, Trump's former National Security Advisor. Bolton wrote in his new book 'The Room Where It Happened' that Trump endorsed Xi on the Uighur suppression. According to excerpts from this book, Trump and Xi discussed the matter in the G 20 Summit held last year in Osaka, Japan.

The book and its contents came under direct criticism of Trump, who challenged its publication saying that Bolton cannot reveal classified details".

Bolton says in the book: "Xi Jinping had explained to Trump in the G 20 summit of Osaka, as to why are the concentration camps being built in Xinjiang province. Trump had said that he should go ahead with the building the camps and that Trump thought it is the right thing to do."

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) earlier this year released a document that details stories of thousands of detainees at Qaraqash county in Xinjiang.

Uighur-Han Chinese Tensions

Uighurs are native Muslim people of Xinjiang, the Chinese province bordering Russia. The Uighur Muslims' conflict with the Han Chinese in the region has a long history. The fact that Xinjiang shares border with Russia complicated matters in the aftermath of the breakdown of the USSR in the 1990s. The establishment of Muslim states in the region complicated the Xinjiang question further.

China's concern proved to be true after clashes broke open between Han Chinese and a section of Uighurs in Xinjiang in the late 2000s. Certain groups of Uighurs are said to have sparked violence in the Urumqi region of Xinjiang, killing at least 200 people, most of the victims being Han Chinese. The attacks perpetrated by individuals from the Uighur community also caused massive unrest in 2013 and 2014 as China called them violent terrorist events. In the 2014 attack, bombs were thrown at a mob in the market, leaving at least 35 people dead.

According to the ICIJ, Xi's government has detained more than a million Uighurs in the detention camps. The inmates of these internment centers have time and again complained about sexual assault and inhumane treatment.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. Reuters

China's Single-Child Policy

However, China has audaciously called these centers as anti-terrorism camps or re-education centers. Chinese scholar Adrian Zens has released a report that says China forced Uighur women with more than two children to insert a "contraceptive device" into their uterus in order to control birth.

The women who don't abide by China's single-child policy are threatened that they will be detained in the internment centers. The report further speaks of painful stories narrated by the female inmates of these detention centers, who allege that they were "given injections that stopped their periods or caused excessive bleeding, which usually happens when the excess of birth control drugs are taken."

A video by ICIJ that reveals insanity with Uighur women inside the detention centers of Xinjiang International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Bolton's Charge

Even as these disturbing developments have surfaced from China, Trump is attempting to seek Xi's support in 2020 Presidential elections, Bolton hints in his book. Here's what Bolton says: "Pleading with Xi to ensure he'd win during a Group of 20 summit meet in Japan, in 2019. Trump stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome."

In the meantime, the legislation to punish oppressors of Uighurs in China says: "Chinese officials involved in the repression of Uighurs, will be held as perpetrators of human rights violations such as the systematic use of indoctrination camps, forced labor, and intrusive surveillance to eradicate the ethnic identity and religious beliefs of minority groups in China."

Even after worldwide criticism that China has faced, it has now chosen to threaten the US and Trump. In its reaction to the legislation (bill), China warned: "We urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistakes, and stop using the legislation to damage our interests and interfere in our internal affairs. The Bill has revealed its malicious attempts to endanger China's sovereignty and security, to sow discord among China's ethnic groups, to destabilize Xinjiang and to contain China's development," the Chinese foreign ministry said.