The East Turkistan Government in Exile, which represents the majority Uyghur population of the region occupied by China, condemned Harvard University on Thursday for hosting a Chinese official who has openly called China’s genocide of the Uyghur people a “lie.”
The head of the Communist Party’s consulate in New York, Huang Ping, addressed the Harvard College China Forum last week, an annual event staged in partnership with a major Chinese government propaganda outlet and featuring prominent Party sympathizers and government officials. Along with Huang, Chinese Ambassador to America Qin Gang also spoke at the event.
Huang did not address the Uyghur genocide at the Harvard event – instead using the occasion to warn listeners of “narrow-minded” Americans who did not accept the Communist Party as a trusted partner – but recently insisted at an interview that China’s concentration camps were “education” centers that were “a very good thing” and “quite necessary.”
In reality, international legal experts have concluded that China is engaging in genocide against the Uyghur people, and other Muslim ethnic groups in East Turkistan, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The wide array of evidence leading experts to this conclusion includes satellite images and eyewitness testimonies from the concentration camps, which at their peak imprisoned up to 3 million people. Survivors say the camps are used to force Muslims to abandon their faith and worship communist dictator Xi Jinping, to torture and rape them, to forcibly sterilize women so as to reduce the ethnic minority population, and to use the prison population as slaves.
“We condemn Harvard for hosting Huang Ping who openly supports the Chinese government’s ongoing campaign of genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan,” Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of the East Turkistan Government in Exile said in a statement on Thursday. “We demand Harvard issue an apology and condemn the Uyghur genocide.”
Harvard has not apologized for the event at press time.
Huang spoke at what has become an annual tradition: the Harvard College China Forum. The event, according to its site, was organized this year in partnership with Chinese government propaganda network CGTN and hosted its president and vice president as speakers. Another partner aiding the event was the “Yabuli China Entrepreneurs Forum,” an organization that has dubbed itself “Chinese Davos” and appears to have close ties to the Chinese government entities.
In addition to Qin, Huang, and the CGTN leadership, the Harvard College China Forum hosted as speakers former Harvard President Lawrence Summers; the president of the pro-Beijing, Communist Party-affiliated Bush China Foundation David Firestein; and leftist former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
Huang, the New York consulate leader, used his speech to demand Americans respect “socialism with Chinese characteristics” – the totalitarian ideology Beijing uses to justify the Uyghur genocide – and insulted “narrow-minded” opponents of communism.
“Ancient Chinese philosophy teaches us to be tolerant to diversity just like the sea admitting hundreds of rivers for its capacity to hold,” Huang said at the event, according to a transcript published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “American society has always advocated the spirit of diversity and inclusiveness, but there are also some narrow-minded people who find it difficult to accept those countries with different histories, cultures and systems from the U.S.”
“They always point fingers at those countries and want to change them,” Huang claimed.
Huang also claimed that nearly all Chinese people support communism, a declaration at odds with the need for extreme censorship of divergent political opinions, the arrests of political dissidents, and mounting evidence of civil unrest, particularly in locked-down Shanghai.
“The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is rooted in the 5,000-year-old Chinese civilization. It is the choice of the 1.4 billion Chinese people. The development and progress China has made in the past few decades has fully proved that this is the right path that suits China’s national conditions,” Huang claimed. “We will follow this path unswervingly. A poll conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School on China for 10 consecutive years shows that the Chinese people’s satisfaction with the government has remained above 90% year after year. We hope that the U.S. side will respect the path independently chosen by Chinese people and accommodate a peaceful and prosperous China.”
Huang did not justify, or even mention, the Uyghur genocide at the Harvard event. Last year, however, he enthusiastically defended the genocide as “good” and necessary.
In an interview with the outlet Sup China – which the interviewer admitted required the Communist Party to screen questions in advance – Huang insisted that all the extensive evidence proving China was committing genocide and enslaving Uyghurs in East Turkistan was a lie.
“There’s no genocide, not a single evidence to prove that there’s a genocide or something there. It’s just slandering. As for the vocational and the education training center [concentration camp], I think these centers are set by the law,” Huang insisted.
“I see these centers as a campus, rather than camps. We get these people there to be educated. And this has been quite effective in terms of countering terrorism and in de-radicalization,” Huang elaborated.
Responding to claims that the concentration camps are, in fact, concentration camps, Huang said, “It’s not true. We educate the people. So, they know they need to obey the law. We educate the people or equip them with a skill so they can find a good job. That’s a very good thing. And so I think it’s quite necessary.”
The interviewer asserted in the interview that he also did not believe that the Uyghur genocide was a genocide.