With few exceptions, Muslim-majority countries are complying with China’s demand to extradite Chinese Muslims who have fled China’s north-western Xinjiang province. While China views its treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang as an appropriate counter-terrorism strategy, a more complex nexus of interests is shaping the attitudes of Muslim-majority countries towards China.

Earlier this year, Kazakh authorities arrested Sayragul Sauytbay — an ethnic Kazakh but a Chinese national — for illegally entering Kazakhstan and prepared to send her back to China. During her trial Sauytbay explained that she had fled Xinjiang, where she had worked in a ‘prison’ that claimed to be a political camp to ‘educate’ Kazakhs. She denounced China for the persecution of Kazakhs and Muslims. The court ruled against extradition and allowed her to stay in Kazakhstan.

This change of heart is unique. Others have made similar condemnations of China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang, and China regards such people as traitors and wants them extradited. In most cases, relevant countries have complied with China’s request and abstained from criticising China.

Please click here to read the full “Silence on Xinjiang from Muslim-majority countries” article in the East Asia Forum, written by written by Professor Emeritus Colin Mackerras AO FAHA.