A few months ago, Freedom at Issue published a post entitled “The Great China Exception.” The article pointed out that China had succeeded in evading serious and comprehensive condemnation for acts of repression that, if committed by other governments, would provoke global opprobrium. It noted, “The separate category that China has carved out for itself goes beyond the usual double standard that has historically been applied to “progressive” dictatorships—to Cuba, or Nicaragua under the Sandinistas, for example. Instead there is a kind of stand-alone China Exception, under which repression and autocracy are quietly acknowledged but actual objections are seldom voiced.
The magazine Commentary once published an article titled, “Has There Ever Been Anything Like the Soviet Union?” The piece appeared during the last decades of the Cold War, and the title was meant to convey the message that in the long and sordid annals of despotism, the USSR was unique—in the completeness of its totalitarian scheme, in the staying power of its mechanisms of control, in its global reach, and in its determination to assemble a terrifying arsenal even as its domestic economy lay in ruins. Eventually, of course, the Soviet Union succumbed, but for over 70 years it survived and even thrived as a model of anti-freedom that inspired regimes ranging from East Germany to North Korea.
Freedom House condemns Pakistan's recent decision to violate international law by handing over a group of Uighur exiles to the Chinese authorities. The case is a disturbing sign of China's growing influence in the region and illustrates how vulnerable Uighurs, a Muslim minority group in Western China, are to persecution both inside and outside China.