Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping

Well, looks like we’re going to have to talk about China. Really talk about China. Much of the world, of Australia, and of the left respectively have avoided the conversation for years. But we could can’t do so anymore.

At the same time, we have to avoid being stampeded by a propaganda push by other interests. The bad China stories have come too suspiciously simultaneously to be accepted uninterrogated.

The two core charges that have surfaced are inter-related. Firstly, that a mass incarceration system in Xinjiang is racially based — around the Uyghurs — and extended to the virtual imprisonment of the entire population.

Secondly, that China’s oft-reported practice of taking transplant organs from executed criminals has been extended and reversed, so that religious and other minorities — the Uyghurs, Falun Gong, “house Christians” — are now being executed to supply both a private organ market and the needs of the elite.

Both accusations are ghastly enough. If they are in fact combined processes, we’re in another world entirely. The mass detention of Uyghurs and the hyper-control of everyday life in Xinjiang is so widely reported it seems impossible to deny, or believe that it has been wholly manufactured. Whatever spin there might be put on it seems irrelevant, given what is documented.

Recent stories have portrayed it as a product of President Xi Jinping’s reaction to a series of terrorist knife attacks, including one in 2014 that left more than 30 people dead. But the transformation of Xinjiang had been going on long before that, with millions of Han Chinese moved in there, such that Uyghurs are now a minority community. 

That process points to another inconvenient fact, for both left and right: the internationalism of China’s Maoism and Marxism — once genuine enough — is yielding not merely to a national supremacism, but to one based around Han Chinese ethnicity. That is combined with a state-led push towards post-capitalism, combining mass renewable energy rollout, additive/3D manufacturing, robotics and new materials, to jump forward to non-market systems of allocation for infrastructure and other production.

With a private sector situated within that frame, the nationwide “social credit” system subsumes wages as a social control and allocation device. Export-import then runs through countries strung along the Belt and Road Initiative, in hock to China for their development (which, unlike Western IMF development, actually delivered infrastructure).

The system is thus, through various transformations, multiple, to put it mildly. Retro Cold War ideologues like Chris Uhlmann in today’s Nein papers can call the lifting of 700 million people out of poverty a “canard”, but the fact remains that China’s totalitarian control has been successful because provision has been successful; its post-1979 Marxist mixed system has delivered most of the world’s growth out of poverty, while India, west Asia and Africa have stagnated in the net of the neoliberal system.

That only doesn’t matter to people who care less about human betterment than about scoring a cheap political point. That is also a clue to the sudden and collective attacks on China from Tony Abbott and Eric Abetz. Doubtless these two gentlemen have no concern other than freedom, but it certainly doesn’t hurt the anti-China push. The international groups pushing the lethal organ harvesting charge appear to be created around that specific issue, which gives pause. 

But even if it were a question of the Uyghur mass detention alone, no one on the left can pass by this any longer without a collective deep investigation. If it is as said, then we are the equivalent of the UK, offshore from Dachau. It’s worth remembering that a lot of anti-Nazi criticism in the 1930s was muted because it was seen to be coddling British imperialism. And it’s sadly predictable that Paul Keating — who reveres Churchill as the politician of the century — fails the Churchill test when actual concentration camps are presented to him.

If there really is a supply-by-execution of transplant organs, with or without a tie-in to Uyghur camps, that is simply Treblinka. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

If — if — it is true, then Jinping’s neo-Stalinism has evolved into something that combines the annihilating worst of the three major systems of modernity. The right can do what it likes; the global left needs to establish an international, independent commission to assess the evidence of what is occurring in these two areas, and their intertwining.

And if it proves to be the case then we must simply recognise the presence of radical evil on a mass scale and curse our prior lassitude — but not let it distract us from present action.