US media hailed a Newlines Institute report accusing China of Uyghur genocide as a “landmark” independent analysis. A look beneath the surface reveals it as a regime change propaganda tool by interventionist operatives at a sham university.
Throughout March 2021, headlines in corporate media outlets from CNN to The Guardian blared about the release of the “first independent report” to authoritatively determine that the Chinese government has violated “each and every act” of the United Nations convention against genocide, and therefore “bears State responsibility for committing genocide against the Uyghurs.”
The report, published on March 8 by the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, in collaboration with the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, follows a last-minute accusation made in January by the outgoing Trump administration, along with similar declarations by the Dutch and Canadian Parliaments. It was published shortly after the release of a remarkably similar report on February 8 that was commissioned by the US government-backed World Uyghur Congress, and which alleged that there is a “credible case” against the Chinese government for genocide.
CNN, The Guardian, AFP, and the CBC hailed the March 8 Newlines report as an “independent analysis” and a “landmark legal report” that involved “dozens of international experts.” Samantha Power, the Biden administration’s nominee to direct the US Agency for International Development (USAID), also promoted it: “This report shows how this [genocide] is precisely what China is doing with the Uighurs,” the notorious humanitarian interventionist stated.
The 1948 Genocide Convention, the UN’s first human rights treaty, defines genocide as attempted destruction of a group. This report shows how this is precisely what China is doing with the Uighurs.
Examine the evidence for yourself: https://t.co/MfOTT8XUF6
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) March 11, 2021
The report’s authors have insisted that they are “impartial” and are “not advocating any course of action whatsoever.” But a closer look at the report and the institutions behind it reveals its authors’ claims of “independence” and “expertise” to be a blatant deception.
Indeed, the report’s principal author, Yonah Diamond, recently called on the Biden administration to unilaterally “confront,” and “punish” China for supposedly committing genocide, and expand sanctions against the country. Meanwhile, the think tanks behind the report have advocated fervently for the West to “combat” and sanction China, and have promoted US regime change policies targeting Syria, Venezuela, Iran, and Russia.
A majority of the report’s “expert” signatories are members of the Newlines Institute and the Wallenberg Centre. Others are members of the hawkish Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, former US State Department officials, and ardent supporters of US military interventionism. The report relies most substantially on the “expertise” of Adrian Zenz, the far-right evangelical ideologue, whose “scholarship” on China has been demonstrated to be deeply flawed, riddled with falsehoods and dishonest statistical manipulation.
The reliance on the voluminous but demonstrably fraudulent work of Zenz is not surprising, given that the report was financed by the Newlines Institute’s parent organization, the Fairfax University of America (FXUA). FXUA is a disgraced institution that state regulators moved to shut down in 2019 after finding that its “teachers weren’t qualified to teach their assigned courses”, academic quality was “patently deficient,” and plagiarism was “rampant” and ignored.
Just days before the Newlines Institute published its “expert” report accusing China of genocide, an advisory board to the US Department of Education recommended terminating recognition of FXUA’s accreditor, placing its license in jeopardy.
“New” report regurgitates old, discredited “evidence”
The Newlines report presents no new material on the condition of Uyghur Muslims in China. Instead, it claims to have reviewed all of “the available evidence” and applied “international law to the evidence of the facts on the ground.”
Rather than conducting a thorough and comprehensive review of “the available evidence,” the report restricted its survey to a narrow range of deeply flawed pseudo-scholarship along with reports by US government-backed lobbying fronts for the exiled Uyghur separatist movement. It was upon this faulty foundation that the report applies legal analysis related to the UN Genocide Convention.
Newlines’ report relies primarily on the dubious studies of Adrian Zenz, the US government propaganda outlet, Radio Free Asia, and claims made by the US-funded separatist network, the World Uyghur Congress. These three sources comprise more than one-third of the references used to construct the factual basis of the document, with Zenz as the most heavily relied upon source – cited on more than 50 occasions.
Many of the remaining references cite the work of members of Newlines Institute’s “Uyghur Scholars Working Group”, of which Zenz is a founding member and which is made up of a small group of academics who collaborate with him and support his conclusions.
As The Grayzone has reported, Zenz is a far-right Christian fundamentalist who has said he is “led by God” against China’s government, deplores homosexuality and gender equality, and has taught exclusively in evangelical theological institutions. A careful review of Zenz’s research shows that his assertion of genocide is concocted through fraudulent statistical manipulation, cherry-picking of source material, and propagandistic misrepresentations. His widely-cited reports were not published in peer-reviewed journals overseen by academic institutions, but rather, by a DC-based CIA cut-out called the Jamestown Foundation and “The Journal of Political Risk,” a publication headed by former NATO and US national security state operatives.
Trump & Biden admins base their accusation of genocide against China on the bunk research of Christian extremist @adrianzenz
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) March 12, 2021
As his academic malpractice comes to light, Zenz has faced increasing scrutiny and embarrassment, as evidenced by his threat to take legal action against his scholarly critics.
In order to shore up the report’s credibility, and to deflect from its essential reliance on Zenz’s reports, its authors have emphasized their supposed “independence” and “impartiality.”
“This [is] not an advocacy document, we’re not advocating any course of action whatsoever”, stated Azeem Ibrahim, Director of Special Initiatives at Newlines Institute. “There were no campaigners involved in this report, it was purely done by legal experts, area experts and China ethnic experts.”
However, just weeks before the publication of the report, its principal author, Yonah Diamond, penned a bellicose call for the Biden administration to eschew the UN (which Diamond deems to be “beholden to the Chinese government”) and unilaterally confront China. Following the Trump administration’s declaration that China was committing genocide in Xinjiang, Diamond argued that the US is legally obliged to “punish” China and that “the Biden administration must now take concrete action to that end together with U.S. allies”.
The report attempts to construct an appearance of broad expert consensus supporting its conclusions, including a list of 33 “independent expert” signatories. Unsurprisingly, this list consists of individuals pushing for a New Cold War and confrontation with China, and who support separatist efforts to transform the mineral-rich, geopolitically important region of Xinjiang into a NATO-oriented ethno-state:
Irwin Cotler and Helena Kennedy — co-chairs, along with Marco Rubio, of the hawkish Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). Composed almost exclusively of white Western lawmakers, IPAC formed in 2020 in order to mount a “common defence” against the “rise of the People’s Republic of China.” Members of the World Uyghur Congress executive, Erkin Ekrem and Rahima Mahmut, sit on IPAC’s advisory board and secretariat; Adrian Zenz also sits on the advisory board.
David Scheffer, Beth von Schaack, and Gregory H. Stanton — Scheffer and Schaack are both former US State Department Ambassadors-at-Large, while Stanton is a former US State Department official.
Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock — the former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Canadian UN Ambassador, respectively.
Adrian Zenz –– founding member of Newlines Institute’s “Uyghur Scholars Working Group”
Rather than consult a wide range of authorities and academic experts, or subject its study to peer review, Newlines relied entirely on a narrowly focused community of like-minded ideologues. A majority of the signatories are members of the two think tanks behind the report, the Newlines Institute and the Wallenberg Centre. Far from “independent”, these organizations are deeply partisan, self-described “campaigners” that align closely with US and Western foreign policy goals, advocating for sanctions and intervention against China and other non-aligned nations across the Global South.