CHINA has threatened to impose “re-education” on Taiwan to make its citizens “patriotic” if it successfully invades the island.
China regards the democratic and self-governing island of Taiwan as being part of its territory and vowed to re-unify it with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Beijing was infuriated when senior US politician Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan and launched six days of war games around the island, which encroached just a few miles from its shore.
In the wake of Pelosi’s visit, two of China’s ambassadors said that Beijing would impose its will on the population by re-educating them to think correctly.
“We will re-educate,” Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to France to local TV.
“I’m sure that the Taiwanese population will again become favourable of the reunification and will become patriots again.”
After criticism, he later doubled down on his comments saying the government in Taiwan had turned the people there against China.
He asked “why do I say ‘re-educate?” and explained that the Taiwanese population are now “effectively indoctrinated and intoxicated”.
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“It must be re-educated to eliminate separatist thought and secessionist theory,” he said.
China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, also said Taiwan’s population will need to be taught “correct” thinking about China after an invasion.
“It is reasonable for us to understand that their perspective about China, their perspective about their motherland, might take somewhat different views. I think this is a fact,” he said.
“I think my personal understanding is that once Taiwan is reunited, coming back to the motherland, there might be process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China about the motherland.”
The view that Taiwan’s population needs re-education after any invasion is shared among many Chinese citizens.
It is summed up by in a phrase often seen on social media which translates as “keep the island, don’t keep the people”.
The diplomats’ comments come as Beijing set out its commitment to re-unify Taiwan in a ‘White Paper’, which hints at a policy of re-education.
It pledges to “to increase our compatriots’ knowledge of the mainland and reduce these misconceptions and misgivings, in order to help them resist the manipulation of separatists.”
The Center for Uyghur Studies director Abdul Hakim said that Lu’s remarks were a chilling echo of camps where Uyghurs are held, in the Xinjiang region.
He said him and his colleagues have worked hard to tell the world that China is “using Uyghurs as test subjects with a plan to transfer their genocidal tactics to other parts of the world”.
“Now China is saying it will set up a concentration camp in Taiwan,” he wrote.
What’s happening in Xinjiang?
The area is an autonomous region of China in the north-west of the huge country.
It’s home to around 25million people and covers 640,000 square miles, making it the largest province in China.
However, less than ten per cent of the land is fit for human habitation.
It’s been part of China since 1949, and became an autonomous region in 1955.
The area is currently the country’s largest natural gas-producing region.
In recent years, claims that the province’s residents are being held in detention camps have been made by journalists and human rights campaigners.
Last year, one newspaper reported that writers, artists and academics are among those imprisoned.
There are also claims that Uighurs are thrown into the camps for arbitrary reasons, like having beards or wearing veils.
Exiled human rights campaigner Mirbek Serambek told RFA the ambassadors’ threats are likely to have been endorsed by China’s president Xi Jinping.
“It shows that the Chinese government’s re-education policy is unlikely to change for the time being, and that it was likely on strict orders from Xi Jinping,” he said.
China has long been accused of using hellish “re-education” camps in Xinjiang province to crush political dissent and persecute Uyghur Muslims by stamping out their culture.
There have been allegations that women held in the camps have been forcibly sterilised while others have subject to electrocution.
Survivor Kayrat Samarkand told how guards used an iron maiden-style metal suit on him.
“They made me wear what they called ‘iron clothes’ – a suit made of metal that weighed over 50lb.
“It forced my arms and legs into an outstretched position. I couldn’t move at all, and my back was in terrible pain.”
The Chinese insist the camps are there to prevent extremism taking hold and to provide training to help Uyghurs find jobs.
The US, UK, Canada and the Netherlands are among several countries to have previously accused China of committing genocide in Xinjiang.
The accusation on based on an international convention that defines genocide as the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.