Let’s do a thought experiment.
First, let’s imagine Hungary decided to imprison its Muslim population in labor camps, systematically destroy every mosque in Hungary, and implement reeducation programs to erase Islam as a religion. While we’re at it, let’s also pretend Viktor Orbán officially installed himself as “prime minister for life” and abolished democratic elections.
We all know what would happen. At the very least, Hungary would be expelled from the EU, world headlines would blare about a new form of Nazism stalking Europe, and mass protests would break out in European cities calling for Orbán’s head. On the web, Twitter would be abuzz with hashtags — some perhaps even threatening violence against Hungarians — but nevertheless these threats of violence would probably be allowed to still trend.
The nations of the EU, including German politicians of all stripes, would not only roundly condemn Hungary, but may even send “peacekeeping forces” to topple the Hungarian government if it continued on its path.
Liberal Europe would not tolerate such behavior.
In case you don’t see where this thought experiment is going, China is actually — in real life — imprisoning one million Uighur Muslims, destroying their mosques by the thousands, and “reeducating” them into compliant communist citizens inside prison camps, thus erasing their culture and even their will to resist.
This is not conspiracy theory, the liberal media gatekeepers such as the Guardian and the BBC, which are the type of publications that nearly all the liberal MEPs in Brussels read, have confirmed all of this. In fact, satellite imagery confirms that a minimum of 8,500 mosques have been destroyed as of 2020 in Xinjiang province and another 7,000 damaged.
That is not a typo. Literally 8,500 mosques have been erased and many more damaged. On top of all of this, the Associated Press has also reported on programs to sterilize Muslims and use abortions to reduce their population.
Yet, there will be no peacekeeping force from Europe to “liberate” these Muslims let alone sanctions placed on China for its actions.
Instead, the EU just rewarded China with a historic trade deal — a trade deal which will only strengthen the already virtually omnipotent communist Chinese leadership. That is the same leadership that installed Xi Jinping as “president for life” after removing term limits, the same crime that the EU would most likely expel Orbán from the EU for.
What can the EU’s trade deal tell us about relations with Hungary and Poland?
Last year marked a major turning point in the EU’s campaign against Hungary and Poland. The European Parliament and the German president of the European Council pushed for rule-of-law sanctions against the two Central-Eastern European countries, claiming that they are not following democratic norms as well as abusing human rights with their anti-migration policies.
Germany and France, which both played major role in the push for a sanctions mechanism that was clearly directed at Hungary and Poland, also happened to be the primary driving forces behind the trade deal with China. Angela Merkel reportedly scored numerous favorable clauses for German industry, including a coveted mobile phone license for Deutsche Telekom, a first for a foreign phone company, which helped seal her unequivocal support.
Why the double-standard?
It is worth reiterating: If Hungary imprisoned Muslims by the tens of thousands in forced labor camps to build cheap electronics and then bulldozed mosques en masse, it would probably mean war, and most certainly would not mean a triumphant Orban touting a supercharged new trade deal.
So, why the double-standard? Why does the EU take the cudgel to Hungary and Poland, two countries with real democracies, and treat communist China like a country that isn’t actively participating in ethnic cleansing?
For one, despite all the window-dressing about human rights and democracy the EU likes to preach about, power matters. Germany’s export economy, along with many other European nations, are highly reliant on China. China knows this and acts accordingly. Hungary and Poland, on the other hand, are still weak from decades of Soviet-style communism — at least in comparison to China — and this weakness has left them vulnerable to political attacks.
Second, countries like Germany — and to a lesser extent France — have created a powerful image of themselves as defenders of human rights, liberty and democracy. Merkel has tremendously high approval ratings in her own country and abroad and is generally seen as the most powerful politician in Europe. That gives Germany cover to pursue contradictory policies, including trade deals that benefit autocrats, especially if there is little reason if it will turn public opinion negative.
Third, there are powerful actors in Europe who favor countries that support issues like LGBT rights, abortion, and perhaps most importantly, mass migration. These powerful groups, including NGOs supported by George Soros, left-wing politicians, and their allies in the media, are willing to overlook a whole host of other policies as long as certain criteria is met. If Merkel was against open borders, it is fair to say that her push for the China trade deal would almost certainly have received far more negative press, as that policy alone is enough to turn much of the media against a country’s leader.
Another part of the problem is that Chinese repression of the Muslim Uighurs raises a vexing problem for the White liberals and leftists that make up most of Europe’s ruling elite and its educated professional class. It represents a conflict in which one race is oppressing another race, but neither which is White. This creates a level of uncomfortable cognitive dissonance for White MEPs, NGO workers, and authorities in the Commission and Council in Brussels. This set of people buys more and more every year into the increasingly fashionable ideas that have gripped the West — White privilege, White fragility, White colonialism, systemic racism, and so on.
The conflict in China does not adhere to the aforementioned fashionable ideas or the neat boxes that liberals would like to define the world in. The conflict between the Han Chinese and the Uighurs is colonialism, but not European colonialism, it is about ethnic power, but not White power, it is about supremacism, but not White supremacism. If one were to really ponder the implications of this type of Asian colonialism, it could even open the door into rethinking Europe’s entire colonial past, another fashionable topic for the educated liberal set in Europe.
That is why the hatred for Orbán will forever exceed that of China’s Xi for this liberal and leftist elite and their followers on Twitter.
We also do not have to render a judgment on Xi to say he is an unelected autocrat who has implemented a massive surveillance state, crushed democratic protests in Hong Kong, and is set on erasing minorities that represent a threat to communist rule. Those are just facts.
Will this change anything?
Despite the media devoting some coverage to the Uighur issue, there is no fundamental visceral liberal outrage over the issue. Most liberals, including European ones, much preferred devoting their outrage to Donald Trump over the last four years and there is little reason they could muster the same ire and hatred for a truly authoritarian government in China. In fact, much of the business, political and even military elite of the West still call for maintaining close ties with China, with some growing exceptions in the United States and minor politicians in countries like the Czech Republic.
Within the public, most Europeans are probably unaware that Uighurs are facing mass imprisonment in China or even know what Uighurs are.
Unfortunately for the Uighurs, they have the wrong group of people persecuting them. If they want to reach the public consciousness, I have some public relations advice for them: simply start claiming that it is not truly China behind the repression, but in fact, Orbán and Poland’s Kaczyński, working hand in hand in a secret deal with China over a “shared hatred for Muslims”. That is a storyline that might catch the attention of powerful officials in both Germany and the European Commission along with the blue checks on Twitter. If the Uighurs can convince the world that it is really Orbán as the mastermind imprisoning them, sterilizing them, and destroying their places of worship, then countries like Germany start growing concerned about “rule of law” in countries like China as well.
The reality is that if the media was “fair and balanced”, then Germany, France, and other EU powers would be made to look ridiculous choosing money over values in the case of China only to launch an all out attack on Hungary and Poland over so-called illiberal practices.
So, the next time you hear NGOs attacking Hungary’s stance on migration or hear politicians from Angela Merkel’s CDU harping on about rule of law in Hungary, someone should point them to the EU’s trade deal with China.
Ask them why, instead of propping up China’s massive economy, the EU isn’t slapping China with sanctions?
They will deflect, they will say, “Stop changing the subject”, but they will know that the real answer is that China has power and Hungary has very little of it.
Those facts, as crystal clear as they are, will not make liberals or leftists even question for a second why they hate Orban more than Xi. Many of them, while vaguely aware of these facts, simply cannot wrap their head around feeling a visceral hatred for Xi,.
It would also not be politically expedient.
Those same NGOs and politicians do not lose any sleep about what is happening to the Uighurs. In fact, they don’t even think about them. They are persona non grata worth of nothing more than a toothless press release a few times a year while exports and imports continue to flow between China and Europe.
But the Uighurs’s tragic fate, all the way on the other side of the world, should serve as a valuable lesson to those critical of those who try to occupy the moral high ground in the halls of power in Brussels.
They are just as phony as you suspect they are.