UK expert pans Western accusations on Xinjiang

Allegations that China has committed "genocide" and other forms of "mass persecution" of Uygurs in its Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have not been based on solid, verifiable data and evidence, according to a leading United Kingdom-based China expert.

Claims have been on the rise recently that China has engaged in "systematic killing" and "detention" of at least 1 million ethnic Uygur people in Xinjiang, with some Western media outlets repeating them as factual accounts.

"Are they borne out by the facts?" asked Graham Perry, a leading authority on China and a former radio presenter on LBC in the UK.

Driven by doubt, Perry has done large amounts of research and compiled a 35-page report on the matter, coming to the conclusion that the accusations have been built on very limited and unverifiable sources.

"In China, no evidence has been produced, either on the ground or by satellite, of gas ovens, or burial grounds, or rail routes to killing camps, or locations of mass murder, or photos of death marches, or smoke exuding crematoriums, or burial pit executions," he wrote in his report.

So far, the West has largely based its accusations on statements by Adrian Zenz, a self-described Christian fundamentalist who denounces gender equality and "tolerance thinking" and advocates for the "scriptural spanking" of children.

Data Zenz has used in an attempt to prove accusations of China's "genocide", "detention", "forced labor" of Uygurs and "mass sterilization" of Uygur women is not solid, said Perry, who added that he is knowledgeable about China after more than 100 visits to the country since 1965.

"It's not reliable," he told China Daily in an exclusive interview, referring to Zenz's data. "The figures upon which Adrian Zenz relies in order to make the allegation that China is guilty of genocide do not add up; the figures do not bear out what he says."

For example, Zenz stated that "in 2018, 80 percent of all net added IUD placements in China were performed in Xinjiang". An IUD is an intrauterine device for birth control.

However, according to the 2019 China Health Statistics Yearbook published by China's National Health Commission-which was the source of Zenz's claims-the number of new IUD insertion procedures in Xinjiang in 2018 accounted for 8.7 percent of China's total, not 80 percent as claimed by Zenz.

"A more glaring error by Zenz is his assertion that China's government inserted between 800 and 1,400 IUDs per person each year in Xinjiang. This would mean that each woman in Xinjiang would have to have undergone between four and eight IUD surgeries every day," Perry wrote.

Another case in point is Zenz's claim that Xinjiang's Kezilesu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture expected its population growth rate to be 0.105 percent in 2018, which, he said, indicated Xinjiang's population had slumped as a result of genocide. But the figure is actually 1.05 percent, 10 times that fabricated by Zenz, according to the prefecture authorities.

"It is quite a surprise that so much of the genocide allegation is (mainly) based on the questionable evidence of just one person with a quite spurious political past, and, further, is based in reliance on figures put together outside China without discussion or review with the people in China responsible for the research and investigation," Perry said in his report.

Perry added that based on his study, what was going on in Xinjiang had nothing to do with genocide or race but something to do with the territorial integrity of China.

There have been frequent terrorist attacks, launched by separatist forces financed and supported by overseas organizations, in Xinjiang in recent decades, leading to large numbers of deaths and injuries of both Han and Uygur people. In 2012 alone, more than 190 terrorist attacks occurred in Xinjiang, according to the region's public security bureau.

In July 2009, 197 people were killed and more than 1,700 people injured in an organized terrorist attack in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang.

Xinjiang has a crucial geopolitical position, Perry said. It is the largest region in China and borders eight nations; it's on the Silk Road and is a crucial place for geographical and geopolitical development of the Belt and Road Initiative, he added.

"The United States and (its) supporters are hoping in the event of problems and difficulties to cause trouble to China in Xinjiang," he said.

He added that online video footage showed former US government officials had publicly said that the US has contingency plans to stir the pot and take advantage of turbulence in Xinjiang for the purpose of clipping China's power.

"The West is taking a lot of time to try to build up a case against China. That's why a lot of people writing about what's going on in Xinjiang do so with a prejudice against China," he said. "The attempt by Western media to misrepresent China is not an accident."

He also warned that East Turkestan Islamic State, or ETIM, used to be classified by the US as a terrorist organization, but Washington has recently taken ETIM off its terrorist list. That is triggering speculation that it may be planning to send the former terrorists back into Xinjiang as "freedom fighters" to "liberate the Uygurs from Chinese oppression", he said.