OIC Curious Record On Xinjiang

By Moderator July 19, 2019 13:21

Sujan R. Chenoy, director general of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, discuss the reason behind Chinese preference over India at Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

About the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

  • The OIC, representing 57 member states and a population of about 1.8 billion people, is the world’s second-largest intergovernmental organisation after the UN and is committed to protecting the interests of the Muslim world.
  • It routinely expresses solidarity with Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Bosnia, as well as with the peoples of the Turkish Cypriot state, Kosovo and Jammu and Kashmir.

Important Analysis

  • India was the ‘Guest of Honour’ at the 46th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held in Abu Dhabi in March.
  • The final declaration did not mention the customary reference to Jammu and Kashmir.
    • This can be considered unique since the previous Dhaka Declaration in May 2018 had contained this reference. This is because of strong personal and state-to-state ties between India and important OIC states, especially the UAE.
    • At the same time, one of the resolutions did refer to Kashmir and expressed concern at the situation of Muslims in India.

OIC on Kashmir

  • The organisation, while making repeated references to Jammu and Kashmir, has traditionally disregarded the fact that India is a democratic and secular country, where every citizen is protected by the Constitution and is free to practise one’s religion.
  • It has also conveniently disregarded the fact that India regularly holds State and general elections, including in Jammu and Kashmir.
    • On the other hand, it has turned Nelson’s eye to the human rights violations committed by its own members, like the actions of the Pakistani state in Balochistan.

OIC on China’s Xinjiang province

  • The main Abu Dhabi declaration, like the Dhaka Declaration, made no reference to China or its Muslim minorities.
  • China’s Xinjiang province is in the news on account of alleged violations of human rights and curbs on the religious freedom of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic groups.
  • However, OIC in one resolution passed at Abu Dhabi chose to “commend the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens”.
    • This would have come as a huge relief to Beijing, especially after a review held by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2018 had claimed, citing credible reports, that Beijing had turned the Uighur autonomous region into “something that resembles a massive internment camp”.
  • On its part, China has defended its policies and claimed that it is so-called ‘internment camps’ are actually vocational centers meant to “to educate and save [the local people of Xinjiang] who were influenced by religious extremism”.
    • In its White Paper in November 2018, Beijing had projected Xinjiang’s culture as an integral part of Chinese culture.

Reasons for Chinese preference at OIC

  • While the OIC remains critical of India, it is wary of treading on China’s toes.
    • The Baku OIC resolution of June 2006 made an appeal “to give special attention to the conditions of Muslims in East Turkistan (Xinjiang) and to examine the possibility of working out a formula for cooperation with the Chinese Government”.
  • Reasons for favouring China
    • China is a major power,
    • A permanent member of the UN Security Council,
    • A large market for hydrocarbons and a source of arms and investment.
    • Moreover, China refrains from preaching to others about human rights or systems of governance.
  • China’s continued import of oil from Iran suggests, countries under U.S. pressure and sanctions often turn to China for relief. In return, they do their best to guard China’s interests at the OIC.


  • However, OIC countries, under the influence of Pakistan, support resolutions against India despite having excellent bilateral ties with the country.
  • Recent developments — a call from Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri urging China to lift restrictions on Muslims in Xinjiang and Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan chief Sirajul Haq’s raising concerns about the Uighur issue with the Chinese Ambassador — must, hence, have come as a deep embarrassment to the OIC.

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By Moderator July 19, 2019 13:21