On Chengdu's Successful Bid for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

On Chengdu's Successful Bid for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention

Alexander Wallace opposes genocide. Do you?
As a resident of the Washington, D.C. area, I was fortunate to be able to attend DISCON III, the third time that the World Science Fiction Convention was held in the area. Looming over the enjoyable convention (which I shall write up for a future article) was the vote for the 2023 WorldCon, by that point contested by Chengdu, in Sichuan province, China, and Winnipeg, in Manitoba, Canada. I was hesitant if I were going to vote to begin with, but I bit the bullet and voted for Winnipeg.

One of the things that was so noticeable was how much social justice rhetoric was employed in official communications. There was much talk of ‘lived experience’ and ‘centering marginalized voices’ and other such buzzwords. I’ll admit that I, a Filipino-American, find them tedious, but I accept that they come from a place of goodwill.

All of this goodwill is rendered meaningless by the fact that the membership of the World Science Fiction Society voted to give Chengdu the convention in 2023. Bids in Russia and Saudi Arabia and Israel have all been opposed in the name of human rights (all causes which I support). It bewilders me why those objections didn’t hold here, for the People’s Republic of China is actively committing genocide against the Uyghur people in the country’s northwest (in Mandarin, the region is called Xinjiang, roughly pronounced shin-jang; Uyghurs prefer ‘Uyghuristan’).

The Communist Party of China has directed large numbers of Han Chinese to settle in the region, dispossessing the Uyghurs from much of their land and livelihood. Uyghur farmers were forced to grow cotton, a major export crop. The Chinese government has built a large network of concentration camps where Uyghurs are used as forced labor, often by Western corporations. In some of these camps, they are tortured. Uyghur children are taken from their parents and forced to speak Mandarin in residential schools. Authorities have demolished mosques, cemeteries, and other Uyghur cultural centers. They have banned the naming of children with religious names. They have built a massive surveillance state that watches Uyghurs at every moment. They have used forced sterilization to make the Uyghur birthrate plummet. They have organized the gang rape of Uyghur women by Han men.

Nor is the cruelty of the People’s Republic confined to the Uyghurs. They have suppressed the religion and culture of the Hui, another Muslim ethnic group in the center of the country. They have attempted to eliminate the native language of Inner Mongolia. They have brutally crushed freedom fighters in Hong Kong. They have run North Korea as a de facto extractive colony. They have waged brushfire wars on their Indian border.

In voting to hold WorldCon 81 in Chengdu, the membership of the World Science Fiction Convention have made it clear that the only Chinese lives that matter to them are Han who are in the good graces of the Communist Party. For those in that country who are bearing the brunt of the People’s Republic’s oppression, they care not a whit. I will boycott the Chengdu WorldCon in all its manifestations, and I can only hope that readers of this piece - and broader science fiction fandom - will do the same. We must put our money where our mouth is, and live the principles of social justice, which have already been battered by Raytheon’s support for DISCON III, that we claim to espouse.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad