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NBC News scored a scoop this past week, visiting and videotaping a story in western China where the ChiComs keep "special centers" for locking up the Uighur population, a group of local Muslims who had the misfortune to be born there. NBC somehow got the government in Beijing to go along with its reporting. And here some of us thought the Communist Chinese didn't care about public relations.

Thank goodness for those who were selected by the government to explain the whole situation. Otherwise NBC's viewers might miss the point and think the Red Chinese were so obsessed with control that they fear this minority religious group.

International observers have called these special centers "concentration camps." But officials for mainland China say tut tut, they're no such thing. For example, this from the director of the Moyu County Vocational Education and Training Center, who explained his job to an NBC reporter on the record:

"If we leave the terrorism thoughts to be developed, it is very easy to have riots or other issues. We prevent this from happening. Our center is to prevent terrorism thoughts from happening."

Even if something was lost in translation, still.

We prevent terrorism thoughts from happening. If that's not Big Brother talking, what would be?

And all the euphemisms: The prisoners there are called students. The brainwashing is called vocational training. Sobriety isn't an act of maturity, but rather a suspicious religious activity, or non-activity if you look at it that way. Anybody caught walking around not smelling of booze might be suspected of being a religious nut.

Some western observers say 10 percent of the Uighur population is locked up in these special centers/re-education prisons/concentration camps. That could mean up to a million people locked up for ... .

For what, exactly?

While NBC was airing its latest report from the inside, we looked up some of the details on this ongoing crackdown of Muslims in western China. The Washington Post has reported that one of the things that can get a body locked up over there is to refuse to sell or smoke cigarettes. Local shop owners are told to stock the items, or else. Authorities there "viewed ethnic Uighurs who did not smoke as adhering to 'a form of religious extremism.'" So stores are required to stock several brands of booze and cigarettes, advertise them prominently, and those who know better buy the merchandise. Or else invite suspicion.

Other reasons for suspicion, which might lead to questioning, arrest, detention or worse:

Having too many kids.

Refusing a DNA sample.

Giving a relative a Muslim burial instead of cremation.

Owning a tent. (?)

Owning a compass. (Double ?)

Eating breakfast too early. (Triple ?)

The New Zealand Herald reported earlier this year that ChiCom police stop people at random in certain Muslim provinces and check for signs of extremism. Some might could understand how signing a petition or not having a government ID at the ready might cause suspicion. But nobody has explained how eating breakfast too early is a sign of a troublemaker. And what having a tent or compass has to do with anything. But, as always, Big Brother has his reasons.

It's all part of a plan, even if westerners don't understand. The government in Beijing cannot have folks thinking differently, lest folks believe they have an allegiance to a higher power. In other parts of China, certain sects of Christians also face persecution. Churches are being dismantled in certain places as mosques are being torched in others.

Everybody must obey the Party.

Several experts on China, mainly in the West, tell reporters that Chinese authorities have to maintain control in all parts of the country lest protests light and spread like a fire. The ChiComs are more interested in control in their provinces than any criticism they might hear overseas.

Besides, to keep the West from butting in too often, Beijing has a secret weapon: Its checkbook.

Editorial on 10/07/2019

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