Despite its rather huge population of 1.386 billion in 2017, China remains one of the top three heavily industrialised, as well as technologically advanced countries in not only Asia, but the world over. China has the highest number of young students in the United states and in Europe, studying in ivy league colleges. China’s auto industry is competitive enough to be compared with the best in America and Europe. Chinese phone manufacturer, Huawei, has threatened the advancement and utility of Apple Inc. so much that Trump has had to tactically clip Chinese wings on American soil, in the smart phone multi-billion dollar industry. David Rowan wrote in The Times, about China’s dizzying investment pace in the armoury industry. At their 70th anniversary parade, China unveiled the newest and deadliest technologically advanced military weaponry. China’s space program had began making preparations to launch a range of Long March rockets to boost its space capabilities to carry out various projects. This activity follows a dramatic and safe return to flight of the country’s largest rocket. These are the heights and expanses of China’s strength technologically, in IT driven global village where artificial intelligence is taking centre stage of life as we know it, with drones and robots, queing to take up or replace humans in day to day labour or workplace activity. We even saw robots taking care of the Coronavirus-infected patients, in the one thousand capacity medical facility in China, which was built spectacularly within a matter of days — 2 or 3 or so, essentially less than a week. China was showcased there!
Most unfortunately, China has had a terrible human rights record, and the most troubling has been the genocide of the Uyghur people, predominantly muslims, who have been persecuted, tortured and killed — simply for being muslims. The Uyghurs are Turkic speaking muslims from the Central Asian region. The largest population live in China’s autonomous Xinjiang region, in the country’s north west. The Uyghurs are one of a number of persecuted Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including the Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Hui. There are thousands of Uyghurs spread across Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The Chinese government had installed surveillance facilities across Uyghur populated areas and Muslim Uyghurs have been arbitrarily arrested and detained in what they’ve called vocational training centres. Members of the Uyghur population have asked for proof of life from Beijing over missing family members. The Han Chinese ethnicity that used to account for just less than 7% of inhabitants of the area, have taken over the 76% Uyghur populated Xinjiang region, after the Chinese annexation of the region back in 1949.
China has repeatedly discriminated, oppressed and often violently repressed the Uyghurs which has resulted in terrorist type attacks in Xinjiang and other parts of China.
A brave young lady who was taking make up classes on her Tiktok video online, smartly chipped in an outcry over the human rights violation and open discrimination against the Muslim Uyghur community. Within minutes, her site or account was hit by millions of views. Feroza Aziz was teaching users how to use a lash curler before she switched to urging users to Google the imprisonment of Uyghur muslims. “When they go into those camps, they are beaten, raped and forced to eat pork and hardly do they come out alive. This is another holocaust and no one seems to be talking about it, she exclaimed”. She pointed out that generations before us do not have the power that we posses, as she shared two resources for those who wanted to help the Uyghurs. Some former detainees have told that they have witnessed gang rape, and forced sterilization in the camps; while the chinese government has maintained that the camps are centres meant to combat terrorism and extremism. They have even opened up the camps to select journalists but others claim that the censored visits have been cleverly put up to cover the actual violations and carnages within. Aziza’s tiktok account was most likely censored right after her post, as she couldn’t access the account, nor could she use it to either post or un-post anything on it.
In the last month, China itself has been hit by a horrendous attack of an airborne virus termed Coronavirus, which has been claiming lives, making life a living hell for the Chinese and their neighbouring countries. Hong Kong has witnessed almost a shut down and the whole world has watched over the activities in China and its environs. To and fro flights to countries from China have been stopped, as the virus has continually spread in a most deadly pattern. China had over a course been able to have laboratory descriptions of the virus and was able to prescribe containment precautions, to either stop the spread, and in some cases, even kill the virus. Though rare cases of cured patients have been reported, but the virus has spread over to France, and even Africa with Egypt recording an infection.
We have seen images of the Chinese President visiting mosques, seeking prayers for China, and for a clean departure from the Corona crises. Later on, there images of chinese citizens that were thronging mosques, and joining congregation prayers, all in a bid to seek mercy from Almighty Allah, for an end to the scourge of the airborne killer. Most of those that prayed outside didnt even know the direction of the Kiblah — the place to look towards as one prays. They faced different directions which to me was symbolic of the chaos and upheaval that China and the Chinese were facing.
I scuffed and rollicked in laughter, not only at the seeming confusion of the Chinese praying at other directions apart from the Kiblah — but that here was China and their President seeking mercy from the Lord of the Uyghurs! I wanted to lend my voice back then when Aziza lent hers, but I felt it was going to be a voice in the shadows, just like hers. I have now rebuked myself and scolded my literary indulgence, into lending my voice to the outcry of people protesting against desecration of human lives. Afterall, perhaps prayer is more advanced than technology. The prophet of Allah has always said that prayer is the sword (weapon) of the believer. Perhaps too, the Nigerian government will deploy prayer, both in churches and mosques, as panacea to the Boko Haram menace and other acts of banditry — aside Amotekun and other community policing ideas dotting our national space.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi