People are holding a Meshrep, a traditional Uygur community gathering, in Hami city of Xinjiang. Photo: IC
“It’s been two years since I’ve arrived to the US to work for the CIA.” This is a recent tweet posted by Arslan Hidayat on the X platform (formerly Twitter), accompanied by a photo of him in front of Capitol Hill in Washington. Under this tweet, some people questioned whether Hidayat really works for the CIA, while others pointed out that the notorious “East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM)” is indeed supported by the CIA.
In the tweet, Hidayat added an emoji, making the post look more like a joke, but whether it is a joke or not, it exposes a well-known “secret” – for a long time, the CIA has assisted the US government and Congress in playing the “Xinjiang card” through direct intervention and support for proxies, in order to achieve its goal of containing China with topics related to its Xinjiang region.
A long history of spying
Hidayat, who claimed himself to be a “Uygur born in exile,” has been identified as a separatist and long engaged in separatist activities overseas, spreading lies about China’s Xinjiang region, such as “forced labor” and “genocide” and inciting violence to achieve separatist goals.
Public information showed that currently, Hidayat serves as a program manager for “Campaign for Uyghurs,” a US-based separatist organization, whose founder, Rushan Abbas, is even more notorious.
Abbas was the first Uygur journalist when the Uygur language department of Radio Free Asia was launched in 1998 and was employed by the CIA, known as the “favorite ‘human rights activist’ of the National Security Agency.”
According to an article on the independent news website Grayzone, Abbas often boasts in her resume about her “extensive experience” in cooperating with US government agencies, including the Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and various US intelligence agencies.
Although there is no evidence that Hidayat has been directly employed by the CIA, it is almost unquestionable that the organization he works for and the separatist activities he has engaged in are supported and sponsored by this US intelligence agency.
Chinese experts familiar with the Xinjiang issue told reporters that manipulating so-called human rights activists, ethnic minorities, and opposition forces to subvert foreign governments or promote separatism is a common tactic used by the CIA worldwide, and it is no different in Xinjiang.
For a long time, the CIA has secretly carried out destabilization campaigns and color revolutions around the world, while continuing its espionage activities. From the impact on the international socialist camp in the 1980s, the early 1990s collapse of the Soviet Union and change in Eastern Europe, to the 2003 “Rose Revolution” in Georgia, the 2004 “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, the 2005 “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan, the 2011 “Arab Spring” in West Asia and North Africa, and the 2014 “Second Color Revolution” in Ukraine – these have all been recognized by international institutions and scholars around the world as typical cases of color revolutions incited by the US.
As early as the last century, the US and other Western countries began supporting Xinjiang separatism and terrorist activities for geopolitical purposes, with the aim of destabilizing China and containing its development.
An article published on the official WeChat account of China’s national security authority recently in September also revealed the earliest involvement of the CIA in China’s Xinjiang region. It mentioned that Douglas Mackiernan, who joined the US army in 1942 to conduct meteorological research, was dispatched to Dihua, the current location of Urumqi City in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region as a member of the US Army’s 10th Weather Squadron to run a covert mission from 1944 to 1946, before the CIA recruited him as a spy.
Under the external identity as the Deputy Consul General of the US Consulate in Dihua, Mackiernan cultivated spies and political forces with financial and arm support in Northwest China, the MMS wrote. He also secretly installed intelligence monitoring devices in Xinjiang which monitored barometric, seismic, and radiation information to gather intelligence on the neighboring former Soviet Union’s atomic bomb testing.
After Xinjiang was peacefully liberated in 1949, Mackiernan fled to Xizang with his two colleagues in March 1950 to carry out new missions. The group was shot dead by a local military-civilian militia in April 1950 after trespassing onto private land and refusing to drop their weapons.
American scholar Hunter Wiand wrote in an article published on the Georgetown University Law School website that since the 1990s, the CIA has been conducting operations in Xinjiang with the help of some extremist organizations. These activities aim to promote splitting the Xinjiang region from China and also seek the exploitation of Xinjiang’s abundant natural resources.
For decades, the US and the CIA have sought to interfere in China’s Xinjiang affairs. In 2003, the CIA proposed that if the US were to face a confrontation with China in the future, it should not abandon the option of using the “Xinjiang card” to exert pressure.
The CIA has indeed done so and began to heavily support overseas anti-China separatist organizations. French writer Maxime Vivas, who visited Xinjiang on several occasions and wrote books to expose Western lies about the region, told the Global Times in an interview that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), and Human Rights Watch are all organizations controlled by the CIA.
According to the US-based news website Grayzone, the WUC is headquartered in Munich, Germany, and is an international umbrella organization with 33 branches in 18 countries and regions worldwide. Almost all Western media reports on Uygurs in China mention the WUC and its affiliated organizations, especially the “Uyghur American Association,” “Uyghur Human Rights Project,” and “Campaign for Uyghurs.”
Grayzone noted that this separatist network” is one of the core institutions of Washington’s new Cold War against China and has a long history of relations with US national security agencies and far-right radical nationalists.
Since its establishment, the WUC has received generous funding from the NED. Between 2004 and 2020, NED was found to provide $8.7583 million of grants for various “Uyghur organizations.” In 2020 alone, various “Xinjiang independence” forces received around $1.24 million from NED, and the bulk of that was channeled to “Xinjiang independence” organizations such as the WUC.
Hunter Wiand also wrote that among the many US think tanks focused on the Xinjiang issue, one stands out – the Jamestown Foundation.
The organization was born out of CIA Cold War machinations and has since become a major critic of many US strategic opponents, especially Russia and China, Wiand noted. The foundation was promoted by former CIA director William Casey and has frequently had former high-ranking CIA officials on its board of directors.
Conspiracy doomed to fail
According to public information, organizations such as the WUC and “Human Rights Watch,” as well as anti-China politicians, think tanks, and media, have closely colluded under the support and coordination of the CIA, forming a complete set of anti-China “industrial chain” that spreads rumors to smear China, becoming one of the shadow forces behind the smearing campaign against China’s Xinjiang region in recent years.
This “industrial chain” has been continuously taking action on Xinjiang-related issues, from slandering China for carrying out “genocide” and using “forced labor” in the Xinjiang region, to promoting so-called sanctions against Xinjiang cotton and other products, frequently challenging China.
However, the so-called “human rights” advocated by the US and other Western countries are nothing more than a slogan to cover up their ulterior motives. People like Hidayat and Abbas are just tools and pawns used by the CIA. The plot of “containing China through the Xinjiang region” has long been expose, analysts said.
Analysts on Xinjiang-related issues said that in recent years, faced with China’s strong development, the US sees Xinjiang as an important lever to contain and suppress China and as a breakthrough to divide China.
The CIA and related anti-China organizations, politicians, think tanks, and media have taken every measure to stigmatize, politicize, and demonize Xinjiang. However, this evil plot of interfering in China’s internal affairs, restraining China’s development under the guise of “human rights” and “democracy,” is destined to fail, analysts said.
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