This article examines how the Chinese government and its propaganda departments use genocide-related discourses to fulfil different political purposes at home and abroad. By criticizing Western colonialist regimes’ assimilation policies, especially Canada’s Indigenous residential schools, the Chinese diplomats apply the rhetoric of whataboutism to dodge the international community’s questions about China’s systematic persecution of Uyghur Muslims. Domestically, China’s state media intensively cover Canada’s residential school system and the colonial genocide against Indigenous people, trying to distract the audience from the state atrocities in Xinjiang and mislead the public to distrust Canada and other countries’ motives for accusing China of committing genocide. This media campaign is an example of the Chinese government’s “yu lun dao xiang” (public opinion orientation) propaganda. It deploys a mirroring strategy that makes use of the agendas related to the genocides in other countries to cover up a genocide that is happening at home; it turns the residential school survivors’ trauma into a tool to defend a genocidal system that likewise takes the form of education. This strategy poses a new challenge to the diplomatic and academic work that aims to prevent genocide.

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I thank the two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on the earlier manuscript. I am also grateful to Dr. Andrew Woolford, who was the first one to read the draft and gave much valuable advice. Any errors that remain are my own.



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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License