This essay by Ai Weiwei, published in the NYTimes on January 13, 2020, was translated by Perry Link from the Chinese. (“Capitalism and ‘Culturecide’,” NYTimes).
I learn here that Ai Weiwei’s father, Ai Qing, was a poet who was banished for 20 years to Xinjiang, a “vast northwest area in China,” for having expressed himself too freely through his poetry.
It’s noted that Xinjiang is the home of the Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group. About a million Uighurs have been sent to “‘re-education camps’ where they have been forced to denounce their religion and to swear fealty to the Communist Party of China.”
It’s also noted that numerous multinational corporations have factories in Xinjiang. They include Volkswagen, Siemens, Unilever and Nestlé.
Supply chains for Muji and Uniqlo depend on Xinjiang, and companies such as H & M, Esprit and Adidas use Xinjiang cotton… VW builds its cars in China, including the Audi, SEAT, Skoda, Bentley and Lamborghini brands under its umbrella. It has shown that it sees the future of German industry to be in China.”
Some two months after this essay appeared, we cower advisedly from what a careless president calls “the Chinese virus,” while much of what we consume is made in China — including vital generic drugs. The CEO of VW has said he knew nothing about the Uighur camps, though Ai Weiwei asserts otherwise. Supply chains that move food and medicine globally are groaning from disruption. We live in interesting times.
(c) 2020 JMN