Genocide Politics: The Zenz-Xinjiang Case – OpEd


The Trump and Biden administrations have initiated an unsubstantiated genocide case against China. It has been opposed by White House’s own legal experts. With its dark roots, genocide politics mocks real genocides.

In July 2020, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for “using forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.” 

In January, Pompeo, on his way out from the White House, charged China of “the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs in Xinjiang.” The Biden administration has adopted the same unsubstantiated allegations. 

And so has international media, without slightest source criticism. 

Stunningly, most based their charges mainly on just one source: a German born-again anti-Communist Christian crusader who has never been in Xinjiang.

How genocide politics trumped legal experts

According to the UN Genocide Convention (1948), genocide is defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such.”

In contrast, what Zenz claimed was that the fall of Uyghur birth rates and birth control measures in Xinjiang province was a proof of genocide. In the process, genocide was associated with family planning and modernization (which US agencies and foundations have implemented across the world since the postwar era).

Moreover, through the 2019s, Xinjiang actually recorded a positive overall population growth rate, with the Uyghurs growing faster than the non-Uyghur population.

Furthermore, the genocide allegation was made against explicit legal opposition. Prior to Pompeo’s January statement, the State Department’s Office of the Legal Advisor had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove such genocide. 

Yet, both administrations simply over-ruled their own legal experts.

In April, economist Jeffrey Sachs and William Schabas, a leading international legal scholar of genocide, stressed that “the Xinjiang genocide allegations are unjustified.” As they concluded, “unless the State Department can substantiate the genocide accusation, it should withdraw the charge.”

Who is the primary source of the genocide allegation? 

From God to anti-China Aussies and US defense contractors   

Adrian Zenz graduated from the hyper-Christian Columbia International University, headquartered in South Carolina, where teachers can lecture only if they affirm the Second Coming of Jesus. As Wall Street Journal once put it, Zenz feels “led by God” in his struggle against the Chinese communists.

After 2016, the German crusader suddenly became a “Xinjiang expert” with a single Foreign Affairs essay. Co-author James Leibold’s Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has been credited as the think-tank behind Australia’s rock bottom ties with China. It is funded by Australia’s Defense Department and US State Department and Pentagon’s big defense contractors.

By 2017, Zenz’s publications were released mainly by one of the flagships journals of the Jamestown Foundation, an ultra-conservative anti-Communist think-tank launched by CIA Director William J. Casey in the ‘80s. 

But Zenz’s Xinjiang pieces were published by Journal of Political Risk, led by Anders Corr who has a track-record of fake predictions and who consults Pentagon agencies and defense contractors (on his 2017 fake prediction that the Philippines will default under China’s debt slavery by 2022, see my “Whatever happened to PH debt slavery?” TMT, Oct 7, 2019).

In December 2020, Zenz released his Coercive Labor in Xinjiang in which“the assertion of genocide is concocted through fraudulent statistical manipulation, cherry-picking of source material, and propagandistic misrepresentations,” as critics have put it, rightly. 

The “shocking report” was published by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy (NISP), with the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights (RWCHR). 

NISP’s leadership features mainly US State Department officials, military and intelligence analysts who used to work for Stratfor (“Shadow CIA” as Barron’s calls it). The RWCHR positions have converged with those of US State Department and it collaborates with the anti-China cult Falun Gong and its far-right Epoch Times.

NED sponsoring Uyghur separatism 

In the US, the key role in the Zenz-fueled campaign against China belongs to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), whose steering committee members seem to be supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The WCR campaign has forced Uyghur workers out of their jobs, while compelling US apparel company Badger Sport to pay $300,000 to Uyghur exile separatists, not to the jobless workers. 

Zenz’s report also features materials of Uyghur separatists, including the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) backed by the U.S. government. The WUC regards Xinjiang as “East Turkestan.” Dedicated to separatist objectives, it seeks to destabilize Xinjiang and ultimately regime change. It is a top-down umbrella for its Washington-based affiliates – including Uyghur American Association (UAA), Uygur Human Rights Project, and Campaign for Uyghurs – reliant on US funding. 

The WUC and its affiliates have been supported with millions of dollars since 2004 by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).  Under its president Kuzzat Altay, the UAA’s anti-China fanaticism has escalated, while the far-right gun club Altay Defense drills combatants with ex-members of U.S. special forces.

Here’s how the pro-democracy/destabilization machine works: NED transfers monies to the WUC, which uses them for its affiliates, public PR and reportedly for not-so-peaceful covert activities, while lobbying the Congress, which in turn funds the NED.

Nazi roots of fervent anti-Communism

Alarmingly, Uyghurs’ Turkey branch has ties with the far-right pan-Turkish Gray Wolves, a designated terrorist organization, which is usually characterized as ultra-nationalist, neo-Fascist and Islamophobic. It has been linked with political violence, death squads, heroin, CIA, and drugs trade, including multiple violent attacks against Chinese targets in Europe, Turkey and Thailand. 

The far-right links extend to Zenz and his prestigious new host. After his Xinjiang reports, he was recruited as a senior fellow in China studies by the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), a fiercely anti-Communist successor of the National Captive Nations Committee (NCNC), linked with the Ukrainian nationalist and notorious anti-Semite Yaroslav Stetsko. 

Ironically, the NCNC originates from the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), founded in 1943, at the instigation of Alfred Rosenberg, Hitler’s chief Nazi race ideologue and Minister of the East. Nazi leaders cooperated and funded Stetsko’s organized militia OUN, which butchered thousands of Jews in pogroms in 1941.

In the mid-1950s, the ABN was linked its Asian equivalent (Asian Peoples’ Anti-Communist League) in which Taiwan’s Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek played a central role; and the World Anti-Communist League (renamed in the ’90s as the World League for Freedom and Democracy) whose headquarters remains in Taiwan.

It is these dark origins of Zenz and his background forces that cast a long shadow over his allegations today. 

Disconcerting lessons of genocide politics 

The far-right motivations of these old-new Cold Warriors has potential to unleash a major conflict. Perhaps a new Cold War is their strategic objective, despite the huge costs to global economic prospects, especially to the most vulnerable nations.

The genocide allegations by the Trump and Biden administrations seem hypocritical, even bizarre in the light of US history, starting with the native American Indians, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and extending to series of postwar atrocities in almost every major world region.

What’s highly distressing is the way the leading international media has allowed itself to be used, with little regard to public trust – as during the Cold War.

Like the “infodemic” in the early days of the COVID-19, misinformation associated with social media trolls and conspiracy theorists blur the distinction between realities and fantasies. With the pandemic, the ensuing divisions and delays cost millions of lives, and so could the erosion of media credibility amid future genocides.

The rejection of the top legal experts of the White House for a far-right ultra-religious crusader sets a frightening precedent and tarnishes American ideals.

When the word “genocide” is exploited without a solid legal basis, the very designation is politicized and diluted. That is an insult against the real victims and legacies of the Holocaust and other genocides around the world.

This short commentary is based on a part of the fully-referenced 4,600+-word analysis, published by The European Financial Review on June 11, 2021. The print version will ensue later in June.

Dan Steinbock

Dr Dan Steinbock is an recognized expert of the multipolar world. He focuses on international business, international relations, investment and risk among the leading advanced and large emerging economies. He is a Senior ASLA-Fulbright Scholar (New York University and Columbia Business School). Dr Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognized expert of the multipolar world. He focuses on international business, international relations, investment and risk among the major advanced economies (G7) and large emerging economies (BRICS and beyond). Altogether, he monitors 40 major world economies and 12 strategic nations. In addition to his advisory activities, he is affiliated with India China and America Institute (USA), Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and EU Center (Singapore). As a Fulbright scholar, he also cooperates with NYU, Columbia University and Harvard Business School. He has consulted for international organizations, government agencies, financial institutions, MNCs, industry associations, chambers of commerce, and NGOs. He serves on media advisory boards (Fortune, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, McKinsey).

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