June 17, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9399

Russian Sinologists Defend Chinese Pressure On Foreign Countries To Extradite Uighurs

June 17, 2021
Russia, China | Special Dispatch No. 9399

CNN ran a segment lamenting the plight of Uighurs, titled "Uighurs are being deported from Muslim countries, raising concerns about China's growing reach".[1] The segment showed helpless Uighurs facing deportation from Muslim countries that prioritized relations with China over the fate of their coreligionists. Once extradited, the Uighurs faced persecution and worse. An article by Alexey Poplavsky in tried to play down these charges by interviewing two Russian Sinologists, Alexey Maslov and Alexander Lomanov. They explained that China did not seek every Uighur, but only those involved in terrorism and subversion. Devout Muslim countries shared China's opposition to subversive and separatist activity. The most irrefutable argument was that China's activity had managed to shut down Uighur terrorism in China and security trumps human rights. It should be mentioned that Uighur fighters participated in the fight against Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, as part of radical Islamic units, thus earning Russia's enmity.[2]

The article follows below:[3]

Uighurs in Turkey protest extradition treaty with China (Source:

"The Uygurs are an ethnic, predominantly Muslim minority; they densely populate China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Now the Uygurs face serious problems abroad, especially in several Arab states. According to CNN, countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt systematically deport Uighurs to the PRC.

"CNN claimed that Uighurs in these Muslim countries are being detained, abducted and extradited at the request of Beijing. Considering such circumstances, Turkey has been considered a “pillar of security” for the minority. However, last year Ankara ratified an extradition treaty with Beijing, and lost its asylum status.

"As confirmation, the channel provided a number of interviews with Uighurs – residents of such countries, who have faced persecution. CNN also provided scarce documentary evidence [showing] members of this minority group being extradited from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or Egypt.

"Extremist Sentiments

"However, experts interviewed by note that China often requests the extradition only of those Uighurs, who are being suspected of subversive or extremist activity and who have PRC citizenship. These facts go unmentioned in the CNN reports.

"For instance, according to Aleksey Maslov, Acting Director of the Institute of the Far East of the RAS, there are few deportation cases, and one should remember that not every Uighur has Chinese citizenship so not every Uighur is subject to extradition.

"'For example, Uighurs live in compact communities in Russia too, not only in the border regions, but also in the country’s interior. And the Chinese are unconcerned with this fact.

"'When we talk about extradition from one country or another, it should be noted that we are talking only about those   Uighurs, who, according to the Chinese authorities, are engaged in subversive activity. They, as Beijing claims, create Diasporas, which manage electronic media outlets or simply form subversive brigades,' explained the expert.

"According to the expert, virtually almost all countries extradite Uighurs, engaged in such activities, to China. Decades ago, they could migrate between Kazakhstan and China, but now all those routes are blocked. Also, internal conflicts between Muslim communities around the world prevent Uighurs from fleeing to any given country; they can only choose those that share their views.

"'The important thing is that the indignation of extremist Islam is directed against the US, not against China, because Beijing wisely allocates financial support for Muslims. Therefore, strictly speaking, the Uighurs have nowhere to run,' noted Maslov.

"Alexander Lomanov, Deputy Director of IMEMO [The Institute of World Economy and International Relations] and a professor at the RAS [Russian Academy of Sciences], added that the Uighur diaspora per se doesn’t create problems for any country, only the forces striving for the separation of Xinjiang from China do.

"'If there are solid grounds for assuming that the diaspora members are affiliated with radical Islamist or terrorist circles, then Beijing’s interest in such people intensifies,' stressed the expert.

"Bargaining Chip

"As to why Muslim states extradite Uighur Muslims to China, that is a complicated question. According to Aleksey Maslov, many countries, especially Saudi Arabia, simply do not want to damage their relations with China.

"'Actually the existence of aggressive Uighur cells on a country’s territory is always a huge problem. For example, Saudi Arabia, as well as Turkey, has many times emphasized that it stands for the defense of Islam, but is opposed to any extremist activities.

"'The presence of Uighur cells is totally inconsistent with these countries national interests. Turkey has close trade relations with China. Additionally, a large railroad, funded by the PRC, runs through Turkish territory, while Saudi Arabia constructs its own refinery in China and supplies oil to Beijing. Economic interests are much more important to these two countries, than attempts to undermine authorities in China,' said the expert.

"'Furthermore, according to Maslov, the Uighur extremists’ slogans don’t coincide with the Arab states’ agenda. Uighurs call for the creation of an independent state of Turkistan. This is a very old concept, which is currently unmatched by leaders, money and tangible activity.

"'The same goes for the US. They favor respect for Uighur rights, but do not support the creation of some sort of independent state in this region. That is, it is far more beneficial for the Americans to present the Uighurs as a constantly oppressed national minority and criticize the Chinese for their actions, rather than to tangibly support their quite extremist goals.

"'This is just a big game of big powers, in which the Uighurs serves as a bargaining chip,' speculates the expert.

Alexey Maslov (

"Alexander Lomanov agrees with him in some respects. According to him, the motivation of certain states regarding the Uighur issue depends on maintaining good relations with Beijing, including economic and political considerations.

"'We see two completely incompatible versions regarding China’s policy in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. One is the Western version, which is related to the so-called “Uighur genocide” concept and with the overall problem of human rights violation on the PRC's part. And the second one is the Chinese version, which argues that central authorities are doing a great deal for Xinjiang's development and economic prosperity,” stated the expert.

"Lomanov claimed that in the struggle between these two incompatible versions, the PRC authorities have one undoubted trump card. Back in the 2000s and early 2010s there were many cases terrorist attacks in China involving Uighurs, affiliated with a religious-extremist or separatist underground.

"'Their escapades were accompanied by terrorist attacks that caused bloodshed and casualties. They carried out explosions, killed people and attacked law enforcement officers. However, in the last four years, there hasn’t been a single terrorist incident in China involving Uighur radical activity. Thus, in the dispute over what is more important, human rights or security, China achieved a practical victory,' concluded the expert." 

Alexander Lomanov (


[1], June 8, 2021.

[3], June 9, 2021.

Share this Report: