TIBET AND " THE MARKETING OF MISERY"
Nathan at The Argus has a thoughtful post about the irrational politics of sympathy for separatist movements for oppressed minorities
, comparing in this case the plight of the Uighurs and the Tibetans. Both suffer under authoritarian rule from Beijing and a policy of forced Sinicization ( how many Han Chinese would willingly relocate to either Tibet or Xinjiang without a mixture of bribery and coercion from China's central authorities ? ) yet the former cause languishes while the second is celebrated.
To use a Soviet analogy, Tibet is China's equivalent of the Baltic states. Forcibly and illegally incorporated into China by Mao, Tibet is apt to leave the minute Beijing's grip relaxes and it is safe to do so. Oppression has no more made the average Tibetan into thinking they were Chinese than Stalin's terror transformed Lithuanians or Estonians into good Soviets. On a juridical basis, if not a moral one, the Tibetans have a stronger claim.
The Uighurs have a more inchoate history but one in which Chinese rule is also tenuous at best. The Soviet equivalent here is more akin to that of the Chechens, another Muslim group highly resistant to assimilation and whose claims to autonomy were often opposed by Moscow at a bloody price. Historically, Chinese rule over " Kashgaria " often amounted to periodic punitive expeditions marching into Turkestan, deposing local rulers who sometimes were not even Turkic themselves and appointing new tributaries ( again sometimes not even Turks) who often proved disloyal in the long run. When China lapsed into warlordism as it did during dynastic collapses, the Uighurs were effectively independent though usually under relatively transitory " empires " of some kind.
Nathan is correct. Both minority groups are suffering the same kind of oppression and morally speaking it would be hard to differentiate the two claims but " marketing " is crucial to success in the international arena and the Uighurs need that kind of help if they are to alleviate some of their suffering.