New Delhi: The Chinese mission in Islamabad has asked the Pakistani authorities to deal with the negative sentiments of Uighur Muslims at home, which may cause damage to bilateral relations. Pakistani authorities conducted an internal study to assess public attitudes towards the Chinese government’s atrocities against Uighurs in the peaceful western province of Xinjiang.
The report found that Pakistan’s religious magazines have been talking loudly about this issue and have extensively reported on the situation in China’s westernmost provinces. One magazine called it a “police state.” The main purpose of Pakistan’s assessment is to manage the response and control any activities that may cause Pakistan and China to embarrass the Uyghur issue. Since November 2019, journals such as Ishraq, Ahl-E-Hadith, Mohaddis, Peyam, Al Burhan, Al Aitisam, Uswah Hasana and Tarjuman Ul Quran have been discussing the matter. This story was originally broken by WION last Friday.
The report has been handed over to the Chinese delegation, which seeks more feedback on the matter. The Chinese mission in Pakistan fears that the religious sects of Pakistani society are not only considered firm, but uncompromising. It saw the role of mainstream British media such as Dawn, which also reported on China’s expanding sphere of influence. The main mainstream media in Pakistan have been following the ongoing development of cooperation and goodwill between Islamabad and Beijing, and “certain English-language media” have provided space for disturbing news from China, but the delegation has discussed it with the Pakistani authorities.
Since religious figures rely on Urdu-language media for information, they have requested feedback to Urdu-language media. When it comes to Urdu-language media and English-language media, the Chinese delegation believes that the latter only caters to certain elites and has no important role in shaping public opinion.
What the Chinese delegation is trying to understand is whether concerns about Xinjiang are forming an “emotional shape”, which may be detrimental to the interests of both countries, especially with the large-scale infrastructure projects China Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC passing through South Asian countries.
Both sides agree that as Western media reports more about the Xinjiang crisis, but there is written evidence, “the chances of emotion formation may increase.” The Chinese response to Western stories about Xinjiang was not convincing and lacked transparency. For example, China initially denied the existence of detention centers, but Beijing later adjusted its position by declaring them as re-education and counter-radical centers.
Person-to-person contact is another aspect of the Chinese delegation’s request for feedback, because Pakistanis may be forming personal opinions and directly obtaining information. One of them is that Pakistanis often visit Urumqi, Kashgar, Urumqi, Xinjiang. Some of them are married to Uighur Muslims and worry about their families. Another problem is that Pakistani and Turkish nationals are increasingly connected at the public and official levels, which may expose the former to Uyghur rights activities.
They also asked about the voices currently being raised about the silence of Pakistani nationals under the conditions of Uyghurs, in order to speak to “Palestinian or other communities such as Kashmir”. Pakistani institutions and Prime Minister Imran Khan remained silent on the Uyghur issue, and remained silent when asked about any criticism of the “all-weather” ally China.