Is China a Model of the Common Good? by Matthew Schmitz

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By Matthew Schmitz, First Things, Nov. 16, 2019

Matthew Schmitz is senior editor of First Things.

In 2018, Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview: “Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.”

“Liberal thought has dismissed the concept of the common good,” he said. “It does not even want to take it into account, it states that it is an empty idea, without any benefits. On the contrary, the Chinese, no, they propose work and the common good.”

Sanchez Sorondo may want to reconsider these statements. Last week, the New York Times revealed new details about the Chinese state’s mass internment of Uighur Muslims in the western province of Xinjiang. Over the last three years, an estimated one million people have been detained in prison camps, where they are subjected to “reeducation” and urged to abjure Islam. Documents leaked to the Times showed that this campaign of repression was organized after President Xi Jinping urged party leaders to show “absolutely no mercy” and to employ the “organs of dictatorship.”

The system by which detainees are selected combines big data with big brother. As the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists put it, “Chinese police are guided by a massive data collection and analysis system that uses artificial intelligence to select entire categories of Xinjiang residents for detention.” ….


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