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It took years, but the Red Chinese have finally admitted to something the whole world already knew: It's operating re-education camps for thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people it considers too extreme for their own good.

The unfortunate target is the Muslim minority called the Uighurs on the Chinese mainland. They're being rounded up and put into things definitely not called concentration camps, at least not by the government press.

The ChiComs don't call them "re-education camps," either. Too fascist-sounding. The Chinese government in Beijing says the Uighurs are being put in Vocational Skills Training Centers, to "deradicalize" some of the more impressionable of its people. Because, as everyone knows, the best way to squeeze the radical out of a person is to teach them a job skill.

The papers say Beijing only claims to detain those Uighurs in need of "transformation through education." You know, like requiring civics classes in the public education system here.

Never mind that the Red Chinese have a very subjective way to decide if somebody is in need of these training centers. For example, anybody who practices religion can be detained for extremism on mainland China. (Human rights activists say any problems among the Uighurs more likely come from heavy-handed tactics used by government police, the officially unofficial oppression of religion, and an electronic surveillance system that The Wall Street Journal calls the "world's most intensive.")

The Chinese have a saying: Close the door to beat the dog. And one way to close that door is to use euphemism when describing to the world what's really going on behind that Great Wall. Thus the Vocational Skills Training Centers.

Therein, the ideologically disadvantaged who aren't team players can re-align any outlying thoughts about the Republic. The politically under-performing must be involuntarily separated from their towns and sent to a culturally deprived environment, incentivized to stick with China's core competencies, and thought-adjusted until they are no longer partially proficient. And if the Chinese minders have to be economical with the truth, or commit terminological inexactitude, it's only to manage the optics.

New rules say education-center operators are responsible for running them safely, with a goal of re-integrating the detainees into society--though no mechanism is laid out for holding officials accountable for breaches.

That last paragraph wasn't a joke. It's from the Journal's news story. Verbatim.

Experts, researchers and China watchers say recent actions by the Party show that these Vocational Skills Training Centers are here to stay. The government/Party/Comrade Xi didn't set this system up to be temporary. And may have taken the unusual step to admit its case before the world to make the detentions even more legitimate.

As Adrian Zenz, an expert on these matters at the European School of Culture and Theology in Germany, put it: "Overall, this clearly strengthens the legal basis for the type of re-education that has essentially been admitted by the state, indicating that the state is determined to proceed with the current campaign."


The story goes that in 1972, Henry Kissinger was trying to make small talk one day with his Cabinet-level counterpart as Nixon went to China, as supposedly only he could. Secretary Kissinger asked Zhou Enlai: What was the Party's thinking on the success of the French Revolution these days? Premier Zhou was said to have thought for a minute, then replied: "It's too soon to tell."

The Chinese take the long view on things. Expect to see these Vocational Skills Training Centers in the news a lot in the years to come. For any minority on the mainland that doesn't think right, more's the pity.

Editorial on 10/21/2018

Print Headline: Vocational training

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