原版文章由A. Liu撰写,于2020年11月11日在《Lausan》上发表 (于2020年10月28日首次在《The Nation》上发表)。中文版由顿亚 (Dun Ya) 翻译。

九月,美国媒体与政客对迪士尼发出强烈批评,抗议它在《花木兰》的致谢中感谢了对穆斯林实施拘禁的新疆国安局。知名运动员如NBA球员鲁迪·戈贝尔 (Rudy Gobert) 和其他几位法国足球运动员也在社交媒体上发声支援维吾尔穆斯林群体。Netflix (在线视频流服务公司) 也不得不出面为它要继续改编刘慈欣的《三体》的决定而辩护,即便刘慈欣支持中国新疆政策的言论已引起争议。

In September, talking heads and politicians condemned Disney for thanking the security and publicity bureaus that administer the camps in the credits of Mulan. Well-known professional athletes such as NBA center Rudy Gobert and several French soccer players have posted on social media in solidarity with the Uighurs. And Netflix had to defend its decision to proceed with a production of science fiction writer Liu Cixin’s Three-Body Problem trilogy, despite Liu’s defense of China’s policies in Xinjiang.

我猜想许多海外观察者对这些头条不知如何做出政治立场上的回应。一方面,这些拘禁营的讯息骇人听闻。到今天,事实几乎难以辩驳,连中国政府自身的回应也印证了这些报道的基本情况。另一方面,这些事实时常被卷入一种叙事,将“自由守卫者美国”与“邪恶中国”对立,从而为散播仇恨的美国右翼政客与反华鹰派所利用。比如密苏里州参议员乔希·霍利 (Josh Hawley) 就利用《花木兰》争议,宣称迪士尼“将利益放在原则之前、不仅无视中国共产党的种族屠杀和别的恶行,而且帮助并支持他们的决定,是对美国价值观的侮辱。”

I suspect many foreign observers are uncertain how to translate these headlines into political terms. On the one hand, the details of the camps are horrifying. By now, what is occurring seems undeniable, with the basic details largely corroborated by the Chinese state itself. On the other, these facts often get slotted into a narrative that pits a freedom-defending United States against a nefarious Chinese state, a story that plays into the hands of odious right-wing US politicians and militaristic China hawks. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, for instance, capitalized on the Mulan debacle by declaring that Disney’s “decision to put profit over principle, to not just ignore the CCP’s genocide and other atrocities but to aid and abet them, [was] an affront to American values.”

关于新疆的争议会只增不减,我认为相信国际主义的人们需要找到一个能替代像霍利一样片面、支持美国的解释。当下的局势在鼓励着极端民族主义的回应:要么是煽动反华恐惧,往好了说是政客的自私自利,往坏了说则是军事冲突的托词;要么是亲华派对新疆拘禁营的矢口否认。比如十月十日,社会主义杂志Monthly Review转载了一篇公然为中国新疆政策辩护的修正主义文章。

Debates over Xinjiang will only intensify, and I believe internationalist thinkers need to offer an alternative to reductive, pro-US stances such as Hawley’s. The current dynamic is fostering extreme nationalist responses: either an anti-China fearmongering that is at best self-serving for politicians and at worst a pretext for violent confrontation, or a pro-China denialism of the Xinjiang camps, which has seduced some leftists on nominally anti-imperialist grounds. On October 10, for example, the socialist magazine Monthly Review republished an egregious revisionist defense of China’s policies in the region.

到现在为止,大部分关于新疆的讨论都陷入了这两种解释之一:这个拘禁营现状要么源自于汉族与非汉族之间的永恒民族冲突,被保守派权威解释成”大汉民族主义“ (Han supremacy);不然就被理解为一种亚洲共产主义的极权统治,与一个自由资本主义的西方对立。

Thus far, most discussions surrounding the Xinjiang camps have defaulted to one of two explanations: Either they are the result of a timeless ethnic conflict between Han and non-Han Chinese people, glossed by conservative pundits as “Han supremacy,” or they are attributed to the features of an Asian and communist despotism that is juxtaposed against a free and capitalist Western world.

尽管粗看合理,这些(东西方)文明差异的解释是静止的,而缺少对历史的考量。研究中国西北地区的人类学家Darren Byler写道,“一个粗暴的种族屠杀的指控只能让我们用‘文化论’来指责某个民族很邪恶、控制别的群体,但它不能让我们解释为什么。”

Though plausible at a glance, such civilizational explanations are too static and lack historical analysis. Darren Byler, an anthropologist researching northwest China, has written that an unnuanced charge of “ethnic genocide simply allows [one] to argue in a culturalist mode that one or more groups of people are bad or evil and dominating another group. It does not allow [one] to explain why.”


The “why” has much to do with political-economic developments set into motion during the 1990s, when the Chinese government encouraged domestic companies to develop infrastructure in Xinjiang and tap the region’s oil and natural gas fields in order to supply energy to cities along the coast. During that time, millions of ethnic Chinese people moved to Xinjiang, soaking up the region’s economic gains and sparking anti-colonial protests by Uighur locals. Though there had been prior tensions between the Han and Uighur groups, the development projects raised them to new levels.

政府对不满的回应则是尝试去同化维族和其他少数民族,让他们融入一种“主流”中华民族社会中,强调语言、宗教、文化教育。紧接着美国911袭击事件,中国政府明确地重新利用了美国“反恐战争”的语言以妖魔化伊斯兰的宗教习俗,对此悉尼大学的历史学家David Brophy有所纪录。事情的转折点是2014年五月发生在一个乌鲁木齐火车站的爆炸事件,此后中国共产党正式宣告开始“人民反恐战争”。

The government’s response to dissent has been to try to assimilate Uighur and other minority groups into a kind of “mainstream” ethnic Chinese society, prioritizing language, religious, and cultural education. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the Chinese state explicitly repurposed the US’s own War on Terror rhetoric to demonize Islamic religious practices, as documented by University of Sydney historian David Brophy. The turning point was an explosion in an Urumqi train station in May 2014, after which Chinese Communist Party officials declared a “People’s War on Terror.”


For Byler, the re-education camps are inseparable from a corporate and government-led drive to capitalize on Xinjiang’s resources and people. The region supplies about 20 percent of the nation’s oil and gas and about 20 percent of the world’s tomatoes and cotton. State projects have included experiments in policing and cybersecurity technology, which Chinese companies are already exporting abroad; securing the region for Belt and Road Initiative transportation infrastructure projects into Central Asia; and, it was revealed recently, coercively moving Uighur workers to factories in both Xinjiang and in large eastern cities such as Hefei, Zhengzhou, and Qingdao, manufacturing for brands such as Nike, Apple, Gap, and Samsung.


It is therefore crucial to recognize that the camps are not the inevitable result of deep-seated ethnic conflict or Asian autocracy but are linked to changes in Chinese and global capitalism. They were made possible by processes dating back to the 1980s, when the Chinese government pivoted to market-driven growth and advertised its natural and human resources to foreign investors at cheap rates.


Export-led industrialization in China has meant profits for foreign companies, savings for foreign consumers, and cheaper credit for foreign borrowers. It has also meant periodic revelations over terrible labor conditions in China, such as the 1990s campaigns against clothing sweatshops, the 2010s uproar over worker suicides at Foxconn’s Shenzhen factory, and now reports about Uighur labor. Such scandals never seem to get resolved, only quietly displaced when the next one arises.


The ultimate agency, of course, lies with Chinese companies and institutions. But it is also impossible to understand why these problems are so endemic without looking at global economic dynamics.

不管美国政客再怎么宣传人权和与中国脱钩,他们知道美国企业在从全球化竞次 (race to the bottom) 中获利,并且美国经济不会很快与中国经济脱钩。从这个角度看,新疆的再教育营牵涉的不只是中国政府。它们是全球资本与商品流的产物,诞生于那些为保护资本和商品而建立的伴生制度中。

For all the talk by US politicians of promoting human rights and decoupling from China, they know that US companies profit from this race-to-the-bottom globalization and that separating the US economy from China’s will not happen anytime soon. From this perspective, the re-education camps implicate more than just the Chinese state. They have grown out of global capital and commodity flows and the attendant institutions designed to protect them.

这就是为什么我担心,目前最常见的探讨新疆拘禁营的框架是一个将中美价值观敌对起来的的民族主义框架。它的支持者们是美国保守派政客,如乔希·霍利(Josh Hawley), 泰德·克鲁斯(Ted Cruz), 马克罗•鲁比奥(Marco Rubio),在方便时急切地为本土主义情绪煽风点火,但不愿意认真考虑那些潜藏在中国政策下的势力。去年,特朗普总统对制裁中国对维族虐待的请求不予理会,因为它们会影响华盛顿与北京的一个贸易协定。尽管特朗普政府已经开始谴责新疆的情况,这看起来更像是一个用来做谈判筹码的手段,为了从中国手中拿到妥协,同时也是一个选举手段,以将对新冠疫情处理不当的批评转移到别处。

This is why I am concerned that the most readily available framework for discussing the Xinjiang camps is a nationalistic one that pits US and Chinese values against each other. Its cheerleaders are conservative US politicians, such as Hawley, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, eager to stoke nativist sentiments when expedient but unwilling to seriously look at the forces undergirding China’s policies. Last year, President Donald Trump ignored calls to sanction China over the mistreatment of Uighur people because they would interfere with a trade deal with Beijing. And though his administration has begun to denounce abuses in Xinjiang, this seems mostly a negotiating tactic to get concessions from China and an election strategy to deflect blame from mishandling the Covid-19 pandemic.

中美两国间民族主义的对抗,最可能的结果不是美国有原则地承诺去改善生活在亚洲的人们的处境。这是一场针锋相对的比拼,用惩罚无辜普通人作为政治筹码,从特朗普政府针对中国留学生与工人的签证政策就可看出,以及中国政府今年六月通过的香港特别行政区维护国家安全法 (National Security Law for Hong Kong) 和对境外记者的驱逐与拘捕。

The most likely outcome of a nationalist rivalry between the US and Chinese governments is not a principled commitment by the United States to improving the lives of those in Asia. It is a tit-for-tat competition to punish innocent people as a form of political leverage, evidenced by the Trump administration’s visa policies targeting Chinese students and workers or the Chinese government’s passage this June of a National Security Law for Hong Kong and its expulsion and detention of foreign journalists.


So then how do we proceed? There are signs that international pressure pushed the Chinese state to at least declare the closure of some camps (though the reality is unclear). Boycotting products linked to Uighur detention, whether Mulan or Apple accessories or H&M jeans, may send a message in the short term.


But in the long term, we need to learn to talk about the re-education camps and labor conditions in China in a more expansive way. This means moving beyond nationalist and humanitarian explanations compatible with Cold War–style political theater. Instead, analysts should foreground the historical and global economic forces that helped give rise to the camps.

美国观察者们应该停止把这些拘禁营描述成与美国社会格格不入的现象,这样只会增加美国作为世界警察的权威。相反,我们需要审视全局。我们应该反对中国政府的伊斯兰恐惧症 (Islamophobia),就像反对布什 (George W. Bush) 的血腥残酷的“反恐战争”政策一样。我们应该谴责全球供应链中对维吾尔族的强迫劳动,就像谴责同一廉价商品生产网络对移民和监狱劳工的剥削一样。我们还应该控诉中国在其边疆肆无忌惮地行使国家权力,正如我们控诉我们自己的社会在边境巡逻和警察暴力。

American observers should resist framing the camps as something alien to US society, a move that only legitimizes the United States as a global policeman. Instead, we need to connect the dots. We should oppose the Chinese state’s Islamophobia just as we opposed the bloody and oppressive policies of George W. Bush’s War on Terror that inspired it. We should condemn Uighur forced labor in our global supply chains, just as we condemn the exploitation of the guest and prison labor in the same webs of cheap commodity production. And we ought to denounce the indiscriminate use of state power in China’s peripheries, because we denounce the violence of the Border Patrol and police forces at the edges of our own society.


Such internationalist framing resists cynical appropriation by the cold warriors and China apologists. More crucially, it de-exoticizes the Xinjiang camps and enables a more self-reflective conversation about their truly modern and global causes.