BRI as a Tool of Oppresion: UNPO GA Supports Victims of the Chinese Communist Party
During a session of the UNPO’s XV General Assembly devoted to UNPO members in the Asia-Pacific region, a key theme arose that affects many UNPO members – repression by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The peoples of Tibet, East Turkestan, Southern Mongolia and Hong Kong, as peoples who live within the borders of the PRC, have long suffered from state repression. Today, in addition to domestic persecution of minorities, the Chinese Communist Party is also exporting repressive policies beyond its borders, leading client states such as Pakistan and Laos to undertake extreme repression against their national minorities as an indirect result of massive Chinese investment as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. In this context, the UNPO XV General Assembly has adopted a resolution supporting these peoples fundamental rights and freedom of speech, conscience and religion. The extreme use of force against these communities, which in a number of cases has involved imprisoning large numbers of people, is a trend that has been accelerated in recent years.
In Pakistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key part of the BRI, has led to massive developments in the Balochistan and Sindh regions of the country. In Balochistan, rapid development of a deep-water port in the city of Gwadar has led to native Baloch people being forced out of their communities and forbidden from their traditional source of sustenance – fishing. As a result, large numbers of native Baloch have no source of income and live in extreme poverty, while the Pakistani government imports large numbers of external labour to develop the port. In Sindh province, the massive economic investment from China has resulted in the development of a huge hydroelectric powerstation that cuts off a river and threatens to become an environmental catastrophe. Additionally, both the Sindh and Baloch people are subject to repeated disappearances and extrajudicial killings with estimates in the last decade of 18000 Baloch disappeared and 2000 killed, and 1500 abducted Sindh, 211 disappeared, and several dozen killed.
The PRC has been exporting its tools of oppression, such as its systems and laws of surveillance, to its economic client-state neighbours in South and South-East Asia. Moreover, the PRC is using its Belt and Road Initiative to drive down respect for human rights and increase suppression of the rights of unrepresented nations and peoples worldwide by lowering standards and creating a race-to-the-bottom of human rights in PRC client states. One such example can been seen in the Saysombun Special Zone in Central Laos, where the Laotian military is supporting gold mining companies from the PRC to surround, hunt and clear indigenous Chaofa Hmong communities, cutting of roads and access to food and attacking innocent civilians, including children, and where the commercial development of the region by the military and these gold mining companies is causing land erosion, chemical contamination of water sources and fish stocks, degradation of the ecosystem and rendering the way of life of these communities impossible.
In response to these extreme human rights violations sponsored by the PRC, the UNPO expresses its deep solidarity for the victims of repression by the PRC and its client states, such as the Uyghur, Southern Mongolian and Tibetan people, the people of Hong Kong, the Choafa Hmong, the Sindh and Baloch. The UNPO also demands the reversal of the PRC’s policies in Hong Kong and its suppression of the Uyghur, Tibetan and Southern Mongolian people, including the closing down of all concentration camps and the release of all detainees in them. Finally, the UNPO calls upon international actors, such as the European Union, United Nations, and the United States to take concrete actions to aid the protection of these vulnerable communities, as well as to condemn the actions of these oppressive regimes and enforce measures to make sure they comply with international law regarding the rights of their national minorities.