Netizen Voices: “Cultural Fusion Should be Based on Mutual Consent”

Amid an ongoing crackdown on Uyghur culture in Xinjiang that has been called an effort to “re-engineer” the Uyghur identity and as a form of “cultural genocide,” state-run new media outlet The Paper (澎湃) this week tweeted a video report titled “Notes From Aiding the Border: Where is Green Tea Produced? Xinjiang Children Had no Answer.” The video showed how teachers from the Shanghai Hanweiyang Traditional Culture Promotion Center were teaching “traditional Chinese culture” to primary school students in Bachu County, Kashgar, Xinjiang:

In the video, teacher Jin Qiu uses Mandarin to conduct a class, and in her comments to The Paper mentions that she “discovered a special lack of local traditional culture.” The report shows a Uyghur primary student in traditional Han Chinese dress saying “I am very happy and proud to wear traditional Chinese costume.” A teacher from the Fourth Elementary School in Bachu says that the “students are slowly coming to love this culture, and to understand that this is their country, one they want to love.” The long-running crackdown in Xinjiang has included policies aimed squarely at mitigating elements of local Uyghur culture and religiosity, and since 2017 has culminated in the operation of a network of extralegal internment camps where an estimated 1.5 million Uyghurs have been or are being detained.

Replying to The Paper’s tweet, Chinese-speaking Twitter users expressed anger at the coverage and the overarching crackdown in Xinjiang. CDT Chinese has archived Chinese-language replies, several of which are translated here:

@MrZ75041830: Cultural fusion is like dating—based on mutual consent, and not ok to force on others. Even after decades in power, the bandit habits have not changed.

@plainqyu: The government used to crush activities promoting traditional Han dress, fearing it would incite ethnic antagonism. Now, it is actually making ethnic minorities wear traditional Han dress.

@baby20087: Putting all the parents into prison to brainwash, while their children receive patriotic education.

@SaddleDave: The CCP has never been kind to traditional Chinese culture, the Cultural Revolution was a movement aimed precisely at abolishing traditional culture.  It is now about deceit, speaking not of [the Confucian classic rites of] Righteousness and Ceremonies or wisdom and truth, speaking only of tea drinking. This is intended to take the life out of traditional culture.  It wants to both lead the life of a whore and have a monument put up in the name of chastity. Even the thugs have been tricked.

@ISqbqICtyQE8W8m: Nothing wrong with explaining Chinese culture, but to forcibly inculcate Uyghurs, to forcibly wipe their genes, this is evil. Learning Chinese culture must happen under voluntary conditions, not by CCP dominance. The CCP doesn’t deserve to talk about Chinese culture!  

Many Twitter-users also expressed their outrage in English:


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