Join our Mailing List

"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibet isn't the Only Captive Nation in Beijing's Empire

June 2, 2008

Guest Commentary
By Mike Krause
The Denver Post (Colorado, USA)
May 30, 2008 11:48:10 AM MDT

The international attention being focused on China's thuggish
military occupation of Tibet in the run up to the 2008 Olympics in
Beijing is well-deserved, but it should be remembered that Tibetans
are by no means the only group in western China living under the heel
of the Beijing imperialists.

The Mongol people of Inner Mongolia and the Uighers (pronounced
"wee-gurs") of China's Xinjiang region are also oppressed by Beijing.
But unlike the Tibetans, they have neither a Dalai Lama nor
sympathetic celebrities to present their problems on a world stage.

In 1949, the newly formed People's Republic of China "peacefully
liberated" by force the Uigher nation of East Turkestan, and the
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was formed.

Like many Tibetans, many Uighers are seeking independence from their
oppressors, but their efforts are under-reported. For instance, while
world press attention focused recent Tibetan protests, few papers
reported on a pro-independence demonstration by the Uighers.
Similarly, most of the world failed to notice when expatriate Uighers
held anti-China protests during an Olympic torch ceremony in Turkey
in early April.

Like the Tibetans, the Uighers have a large diaspora, which has been
forced to flee Chinese rule. Yet escaping China does not necessarily
mean escaping China's censorship power. The Associated Press reports:
"In the late 1990s, the Chinese leadership exerted strong pressure on
Turkey to silence and withdraw any government support for these
advocates in an effort that was said to be largely successful."

Speaking off the record, one American expert described China's policy
as "The only good Uigher is a dead Uigher." Testifying before the
U.S. House Committee on International Relations in 2001, Yemlibike
Fatkulin, a Uigher asylum seeker, described Beijing's population
control tactics against ethnic Uighers including forced abortions,
forced sterilization and heavy fines for "unauthorized" children.

Islam is the dominant Uigher religion. A 2005 Human Rights Watch
report on Beijing's religious repression of Uighers describes clerics
being forced to listen to speeches by Communist Party and government
officials. The reports notes the oppressive government regulations
"pertaining to religious activities, Party doctrine, and positions on

Inner Mongolia's subjugation by Chinese communists began in 1947.
While the Mongolians of Inner Mongolia are forced to live under rigid
communist rule, the rest of Mongolia (sometimes called "Outer
Mongolia") is an independent nation that has moved from communist
rule as a Soviet satellite to a sovereign parliamentary democracy.

During Mao Zedong's genocidal "Cultural Revolution" in the 1960s and
early 1970s, many thousands of Mongolians of Inner Mongolia were
tortured, maimed and killed in a vicious campaign by Chinese
communists against an alleged Inner Mongolia independence movement.

Today the Inner Mongolia People's Party (so named in remembrance of
the slaughter of the Cultural Revolution) actually exists as an
organization of Mongolian expatriates based in New Jersey. Well
outside the reach of Beijing, the affirm their goal of "establishing
an independent state of Inner Mongolia."

One of the historical affinities between Tibet and Mongolia has been
Buddhism. sLike Tibetans, the captive people of Inner Mongolia saw
many of their temples destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
Today, as in Tibet, the practice of Buddhism in Inner Mongolia is
strictly "regulated" by the state.

Due to a massive re-settlement campaign by Beijing, Han Chinese now
make up nearly eighty percent of the population of Inner Mongolia.
Chinese imperialism has made Mongolians a minority in their own land.

Westerners eager to appease China tend to dismiss the rights of the
captive nations in the Chinese empire. In an April 26 interview with
the Financial Times, International Olympic Committee president
Jacques Rogge called on the west to be patient with China. Noting
that the People's Republic of China has only been around since 1949,
Rogge compared contemporary China to past colonial powers such as
Belgium, France and Portugal, "with all the abuse attached to
colonial powers. It was only 40 years ago that we gave liberty to the
colonies. Rogge admitted that China may not be a "role model" in the
west, but "we owe China to give them time."

Actually, if anyone is "owed" anything, it is the Tibetans, the
Uighers and the Mongolians. They are all owed their inherent human
right of self-determination. After more than half-century under the
jackboot of the regime in Beijing, they have been patient long enough.

Mike Krause is a senior fellow at the Independence Institute in
Golden and blogs about China at

EDITOR'S NOTE: This online-only guest commentary has not been edited.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank