THE XINJIANG PAPERS ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims

Incredibly detailed reporting on the extensive and highly organized efforts by the Chinese government to repress knowledge of its repression of its Uighur muslim minority, and the chilling nature of the Chinese bureaucracy at work.

Of note to those who preach engagement at any cost and no matter the interlocutor and subject:

The students booked their tickets home at the end of the semester, hoping for a relaxing break after exams and a summer of happy reunions with family in China’s far west.

Instead, they would soon be told that their parents were gone, relatives had vanished and neighbors were missing — all of them locked up in an expanding network of detention camps built to hold Muslim ethnic minorities.

The authorities in the Xinjiang region worried the situation was a powder keg. And so they prepared.

The leadership distributed a classified directive advising local officials to corner returning students as soon as they arrived and keep them quiet. It included a chillingly bureaucratic guide for how to handle their anguished questions, beginning with the most obvious: Where is my family?

They’re in a training school set up by the government,” the prescribed answer began. If pressed, officials were to tell students that their relatives were not criminals — yet could not leave these “schools.”
The question-and-answer script also included a barely concealed threat: Students were to be told that their behavior could either shorten or extend the detention of their relatives.
I’m sure that you will support them, because this is for their own good,” officials were advised to say, “and also for your own good.

The directive was among 403 pages of internal documents that have been shared with The New York Times in one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades. They provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, in which the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.

Read the Full Document: What Chinese Officials Told Children Whose Families Were Put in Camps

The party has rejected international criticism of the camps and described them as job-training centers that use mild methods to fight Islamic extremism. But the documents confirm the coercive nature of the crackdown in the words and orders of the very officials who conceived and orchestrated it.

Even as the government presented its efforts in Xinjiang to the public as benevolent and unexceptional, it discussed and organized a ruthless and extraordinary campaign in these internal communications. Senior party leaders are recorded ordering drastic and urgent action against extremist violence, including the mass detentions, and discussing the consequences with cool detachment.

Children saw their parents taken away, students wondered who would pay their tuition and crops could not be planted or harvested for lack of manpower, the reports noted. Yet officials were directed to tell people who complained to be grateful for the Communist Party’s help and stay quiet.

The leaked papers offer a striking picture of how the hidden machinery of the Chinese state carried out the country’s most far-reaching internment campaign since the Mao era. The key disclosures in the documents include:

President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. Mr. Xi called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”

Terrorist attacks abroad and the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan heightened the leadership’s fears and helped shape the crackdown. Officials argued that attacks in Britain resulted from policies that put “human rights above security,” and Mr. Xi urged the party to emulate aspects of America’s “war on terror” after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The internment camps in Xinjiang expanded rapidly after the appointment in August 2016 of Chen Quanguo, a zealous new party boss for the region. He distributed Mr. Xi’s speeches to justify the campaign and exhorted officials to “round up everyone who should be rounded up.”

The crackdown encountered doubts and resistance from local officials who feared it would exacerbate ethnic tensions and stifle economic growth. Mr. Chen responded by purging officials suspected of standing in his way, including one county leader who was jailed after quietly releasing thousands of inmates from the camps.

The leaked papers consist of 24 documents, some of which contain duplicated material. They include nearly 200 pages of internal speeches by Mr. Xi and other leaders, and more than 150 pages of directives and reports on the surveillance and control of the Uighur population in Xinjiang. There are also references to plans to extend restrictions on Islam to other parts of China.

The documents include 96 pages of internal speeches by Mr. Xi, 102 pages of internal speeches by other officials, 161 pages of directives and reports on the surveillance and control of the Uighur population in Xinjiang and 44 pages of material from internal investigations into local officials.

Though it is unclear how the documents were gathered and selected, the leak suggests greater discontent inside the party apparatus over the crackdown than previously known. The papers were brought to light by a member of the Chinese political establishment who requested anonymity and expressed hope that their disclosure would prevent party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions.

The Chinese leadership wraps policymaking in secrecy, especially when it comes to Xinjiang, a resource-rich territory located on the sensitive frontier with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups make up more than half the region’s population of 25 million. The largest of these groups are the Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language and have long faced discrimination and restrictions on cultural and religious activities.

Beijing has sought for decades to suppress Uighur resistance to Chinese rule in Xinjiang. The current crackdown began after a surge of antigovernment and anti-Chinese violence, including ethnic riots in 2009 in Urumqi, the regional capital, and a May 2014 attack on an outdoor market that killed 39 people just days before Mr. Xi convened a leadership conference in Beijing to set a new policy course for Xinjiang.

Since 2017, the authorities in Xinjiang have detained many hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in internment camps. Inmates undergo months or years of indoctrination and interrogation aimed at transforming them into secular and loyal supporters of the party.

Of the 24 documents, the directive on how to handle minority students returning home to Xinjiang in the summer of 2017 offers the most detailed discussion of the indoctrination camps — and the clearest illustration of the regimented way the party told the public one story while mobilizing around a much harsher narrative internally.

Even as the document advises officials to inform students that their relatives are receiving “treatment” for exposure to radical Islam, its title refers to family members who are being “dealt with,” or chuzhi, a euphemism used in party documents to mean punishment.

Officials in Turpan, a city in eastern Xinjiang, drafted the question-and-answer script after the regional government warned local officials to prepare for the returning students. The agency coordinating efforts to “maintain stability” across Xinjiang then distributed the guide across the region and urged officials to use it as a model.

The government sends Xinjiang’s brightest young Uighurs to universities across China, with the goal of training a new generation of Uighur civil servants and teachers loyal to the party.

The crackdown has been so extensive that it affected even these elite students, the directive shows. And that made the authorities nervous.

“Returning students from other parts of China have widespread social ties across the entire country,” the directive noted. “The moment they issue incorrect opinions on WeChat, Weibo and other social media platforms, the impact is widespread and difficult to eradicate.”

The document warned that there was a “serious possibility” students might sink into “turmoil” after learning what had happened to their relatives. It recommended that police officers in plain clothes and experienced local officials meet them as soon as they returned “to show humane concern and stress the rules.”
The directive’s question-and-answer guide begins gently, with officials advised to tell the students that they have “absolutely no need to worry” about relatives who have disappeared.
Tuition for their period of study is free and so are food and living costs, and the standards are quite high,” officials were told to say, before adding that the authorities were spending more than $3 per day on meals for each detainee, “even better than the living standards that some students have back home.
If you want to see them,” the answer concluded, “we can arrange for you to have a video meeting.

The authorities anticipated, however, that this was unlikely to mollify students and provided replies to a series of other questions: When will my relatives be released? If this is for training, why can’t they come home? Can they request a leave? How will I afford school if my parents are studying and there is no one to work on the farm?

The guide recommended increasingly firm replies telling the students that their relatives had been “infected” by the “virus” of Islamic radicalism and must be quarantined and cured. Even grandparents and family members who seemed too old to carry out violence could not be spared, officials were directed to say.

“If they don’t undergo study and training, they’ll never thoroughly and fully understand the dangers of religious extremism,” one answer said, citing the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State. “No matter what age, anyone who has been infected by religious extremism must undergo study.”

Students should be grateful that the authorities had taken their relatives away, the document said.

“Treasure this chance for free education that the party and government has provided to thoroughly eradicate erroneous thinking, and also learn Chinese and job skills,” one answer said. “This offers a great foundation for a happy life for your family.”

The authorities appear to be using a scoring system to determine who can be released from the camps: The document instructed officials to tell the students that their behavior could hurt their relatives’ scores, and to assess the daily behavior of the students and record their attendance at training sessions, meetings and other activities.

Family members, including you, must abide by the state’s laws and rules, and not believe or spread rumors,” officials were told to say. “Only then can you add points for your family member, and after a period of assessment they can leave the school if they meet course completion standards.
If asked about the impact of the detentions on family finances, officials were advised to assure students that “the party and the government will do everything possible to ease your hardships.
The line that stands out most in the script, however, may be the model answer for how to respond to students who ask of their detained relatives, “Did they commit a crime?
The document instructed officials to acknowledge that they had not. “It is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts,” the script said.
Freedom is only possible when this ‘virus’ in their thinking is eradicated and they are in good health.

Secret Speeches

The ideas driving the mass detentions can be traced back to Xi Jinping’s first and only visit to Xinjiang as China’s leader, a tour shadowed by violence.

In 2014, little more than a year after becoming president, he spent four days in the region, and on the last day of the trip, two Uighur militants staged a suicide bombing outside a train station in Urumqi that injured nearly 80 people, one fatally.

Weeks earlier, militants with knives had gone on a rampage at another railway station, in southwest China, killing 31 people and injuring more than 140. And less than a month after Mr. Xi’s visit, assailants tossed explosives into a vegetable market in Urumqi, wounding 94 people and killing at least 39.

Against this backdrop of bloodshed, Mr. Xi delivered a series of secret speeches setting the hard-line course that culminated in the security offensive now underway in Xinjiang. While state media have alluded to these speeches, none were made public.

The text of four of them, though, were among the leaked documents — and they provide a rare, unfiltered look at the origins of the crackdown and the beliefs of the man who set it in motion.

“The methods that our comrades have at hand are too primitive,” Mr. Xi said in one talk, after inspecting a counterterrorism police squad in Urumqi. “None of these weapons is any answer for their big machete blades, ax heads and cold steel weapons.”

“We must be as harsh as them,” he added, “and show absolutely no mercy.”

In free-flowing monologues in Xinjiang and at a subsequent leadership conference on Xinjiang policy in Beijing, Mr. Xi is recorded thinking through what he called a crucial national security issue and laying out his ideas for a “people’s war” in the region.

Although he did not order mass detentions in these speeches, he called on the party to unleash the tools of “dictatorship” to eradicate radical Islam in Xinjiang.

Mr. Xi displayed a fixation with the issue that seemed to go well beyond his public remarks on the subject. He likened Islamic extremism alternately to a virus-like contagion and a dangerously addictive drug, and declared that addressing it would require “a period of painful, interventionary treatment.”

“The psychological impact of extremist religious thought on people must never be underestimated,” Mr. Xi told officials in Urumqi on April 30, 2014, the final day of his trip to Xinjiang. “People who are captured by religious extremism — male or female, old or young — have their consciences destroyed, lose their humanity and murder without blinking an eye.”

In another speech, at the leadership conclave in Beijing a month later, he warned of “the toxicity of religious extremism.”

“As soon as you believe in it,” he said, “it’s like taking a drug, and you lose your sense, go crazy and will do anything.”

In several surprising passages, given the crackdown that followed, Mr. Xi also told officials to not discriminate against Uighurs and to respect their right to worship. He warned against overreacting to natural friction between Uighurs and Han Chinese, the nation’s dominant ethnic group, and rejected proposals to try to eliminate Islam entirely in China.

“In light of separatist and terrorist forces under the banner of Islam, some people have argued that Islam should be restricted or even eradicated,” he said during the Beijing conference. He called that view “biased, even wrong.”

But Mr. Xi’s main point was unmistakable: He was leading the party in a sharp turn toward greater repression in Xinjiang.

Before Mr. Xi, the party had often described attacks in Xinjiang as the work of a few fanatics inspired and orchestrated by shadowy separatist groups abroad. But Mr. Xi argued that Islamic extremism had taken root across swaths of Uighur society.

In fact, the vast majority of Uighurs adhere to moderate traditions, though some began embracing more conservative and more public religious practices in the 1990s, despite state controls on Islam. Mr. Xi’s remarks suggest he was alarmed by the revival of public piety. He blamed lax controls on religion, suggesting that his predecessors had let down their guard.

While previous Chinese leaders emphasized economic development to stifle unrest in Xinjiang, Mr. Xi said that was not enough. He demanded an ideological cure, an effort to rewire the thinking of the region’s Muslim minorities.

“The weapons of the people’s democratic dictatorship must be wielded without any hesitation or wavering,” Mr. Xi told the leadership conference on Xinjiang policy, which convened six days after the deadly attack on the vegetable market.

The Soviet Prism

Mr. Xi is the son of an early Communist Party leader who in the 1980s supported more relaxed policies toward ethnic minority groups, and some analysts had expected he might follow his father’s milder ways when he assumed leadership of the party in November 2012.

But the speeches underscore how Mr. Xi sees risks to China through the prism of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he blamed on ideological laxity and spineless leadership.

Across China, he set about eliminating challenges to party rule; dissidents and human rights lawyers disappeared in waves of arrests. In Xinjiang, he pointed to examples from the former Soviet bloc to argue that economic growth would not immunize a society against ethnic separatism.

The Baltic republics were among the most developed in the Soviet Union but also the first to leave when the country broke up, he told the leadership conference. Yugoslavia’s relative prosperity did not prevent its disintegration either, he added.

“We say that development is the top priority and the basis for achieving lasting security, and that’s right,” Mr. Xi said. “But it would be wrong to believe that with development every problem solves itself.”

In the speeches, Mr. Xi showed a deep familiarity with the history of Uighur resistance to Chinese rule, or at least Beijing’s official version of it, and discussed episodes rarely if ever mentioned by Chinese leaders in public, including brief periods of Uighur self-rule in the first half of the 20th century.

Violence by Uighur militants has never threatened Communist control of the region. Though attacks grew deadlier after 2009, when nearly 200 people died in ethnic riots in Urumqi, they remained relatively small, scattered and unsophisticated.

Even so, Mr. Xi warned that the violence was spilling from Xinjiang into other parts of China and could taint the party’s image of strength. Unless the threat was extinguished, Mr. Xi told the leadership conference, “social stability will suffer shocks, the general unity of people of every ethnicity will be damaged, and the broad outlook for reform, development and stability will be affected.”

Setting aside diplomatic niceties, he traced the origins of Islamic extremism in Xinjiang to the Middle East, and warned that turmoil in Syria and Afghanistan would magnify the risks for China. Uighurs had traveled to both countries, he said, and could return to China as seasoned fighters seeking an independent homeland, which they called East Turkestan.

“After the United States pulls troops out of Afghanistan, terrorist organizations positioned on the frontiers of Afghanistan and Pakistan may quickly infiltrate into Central Asia,” Mr. Xi said. “East Turkestan’s terrorists who have received real-war training in Syria and Afghanistan could at any time launch terrorist attacks in Xinjiang.”

Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, responded to the 2009 riots in Urumqi with a clampdown but he also stressed economic development as a cure for ethnic discontent — longstanding party policy. But Mr. Xi signaled a break with Mr. Hu’s approach in the speeches.

“In recent years, Xinjiang has grown very quickly and the standard of living has consistently risen, but even so ethnic separatism and terrorist violence have still been on the rise,” he said. “This goes to show that economic development does not automatically bring lasting order and security.”

Ensuring stability in Xinjiang would require a sweeping campaign of surveillance and intelligence gathering to root out resistance in Uighur society, Mr. Xi argued.

He said new technology must be part of the solution, foreshadowing the party’s deployment of facial recognition, genetic testing and big data in Xinjiang. But he also emphasized old-fashioned methods, such as neighborhood informants, and urged officials to study how Americans responded to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Like the United States, he said, China “must make the public an important resource in protecting national security.”

“We Communists should be naturals at fighting a people’s war,” he said. “We’re the best at organizing for a task.”

The only suggestion in these speeches that Mr. Xi envisioned the internment camps now at the heart of the crackdown was an endorsement of more intense indoctrination programs in Xinjiang’s prisons.

“There must be effective educational remolding and transformation of criminals,” he told officials in southern Xinjiang on the second day of his trip. “And even after these people are released, their education and transformation must continue.”

Within months, indoctrination sites began opening across Xinjiang — mostly small facilities at first, which held dozens or hundreds of Uighurs at a time for sessions intended to pressure them into disavowing devotion to Islam and professing gratitude for the party.

Then in August 2016, a hard-liner named Chen Quanguo was transferred from Tibet to govern Xinjiang. Within weeks, he called on local officials to “remobilize” around Mr. Xi’s goals and declared that Mr. Xi’s speeches “set the direction for making a success of Xinjiang.”

New security controls and a drastic expansion of the indoctrination camps followed.

The struggle against terror and to safeguard stability is a protracted war, and also a war of offense,” Mr. Chen said in a speech to the regional leadership in October 2017 that was among the leaked papers.
In another document, a record of his remarks in a video conference in August 2017, he cited “vocational skills, education training and transformation centers” as an example of “good practices” for achieving Mr. Xi’s goals for Xinjiang.

The crackdown appears to have smothered violent unrest in Xinjiang, but many experts have warned that the extreme security measures and mass detentions are likely to breed resentment that could eventually inspire worse ethnic clashes.

The camps have been condemned in Washington and other foreign capitals. As early as the May 2014 leadership conference, though, Mr. Xi anticipated international criticism and urged officials behind closed doors to ignore it.

“Don’t be afraid if hostile forces whine, or if hostile forces malign the image of Xinjiang,” he said.

‘Round Up Everyone’

The documents show there was more resistance to the crackdown inside the party than previously known — and highlight the key role that the new party boss in Xinjiang played in overcoming it.

Mr. Chen led a campaign akin to one of Mao’s turbulent political crusades, in which top-down pressure on local officials encouraged overreach and any expression of doubt was treated as a crime.

In February 2017, he told thousands of police officers and troops standing at attention in a vast square in Urumqi to prepare for a “smashing, obliterating offensive.” In the following weeks, the documents indicate, the leadership settled on plans to detain Uighurs in large numbers.

Mr. Chen issued a sweeping order: “Round up everyone who should be rounded up.” The vague phrase appears repeatedly in internal documents from 2017.

The party had previously used the phrase — “ying shou jin shou” in Chinese — when demanding that officials be vigilant and comprehensive in collecting taxes or measuring harvests. Now it was being applied to humans in directives that ordered, with no mention of judicial procedures, the detention of anyone who displayed “symptoms” of religious radicalism or antigovernment views.

The authorities laid out dozens of such signs, including common behavior among devout Uighurs such as wearing long beards, giving up smoking or drinking, studying Arabic and praying outside mosques.

Party leaders reinforced the orders with warnings about terrorism abroad and potential copycat attacks in China.

For example, a 10-page directive in June 2017 signed by Zhu Hailun, then Xinjiang’s top security official, called recent terrorist attacks in Britain “a warning and a lesson for us.” It blamed the British government’s “excessive emphasis on ‘human rights above security,’ and inadequate controls on the propagation of extremism on the internet and in society.”
It also complained of security lapses in Xinjiang, including sloppy investigations, malfunctions in surveillance equipment and the failure to hold people accused of suspicious behavior.
Keep up the detentions, it ordered. “Stick to rounding up everyone who should be rounded up,” it said. “If they’re there, round them up.

The number of people swept into the camps remains a closely guarded secret. But one of the leaked documents offers a hint of the scale of the campaign: It instructed officials to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in crowded facilities.

‘I Broke the Rules’

The orders were especially urgent and contentious in Yarkand County, a collection of rural towns and villages in southern Xinjiang where nearly all of the 900,000 residents are Uighur.

In the 2014 speeches, Mr. Xi had singled out southern Xinjiang as the front line in his fight against religious extremism. Uighurs make up close to 90 percent of the population in the south, compared to just under half in Xinjiang over all, and Mr. Xi set a long-term goal of attracting more Han Chinese settlers.

He and other party leaders ordered a quasi-military organization, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, to accelerate efforts to settle the area with more Han Chinese, the documents show.

A few months later, more than 100 Uighur militants armed with axes and knives attacked a government office and police station in Yarkand, killing 37 people, according to government reports. In the battle, the security forces shot dead 59 assailants, the reports said.

An official named Wang Yongzhi was appointed to run Yarkand soon afterward. With his glasses and crew cut, he looked the picture of a party technocrat. He had grown up and spent his career in southern Xinjiang and was seen as a deft, seasoned official who could deliver on the party’s top priorities in the area: economic development and firm control of the Uighurs.

But among the most revealing documents in the leaked papers are two that describe Mr. Wang’s downfall — an 11-page report summarizing the party’s internal investigation into his actions, and the text of a 15-page confession that he may have given under duress. Both were distributed inside the party as a warning to officials to fall in line behind the crackdown.

Han officials like Mr. Wang serve as the party’s anchors in southern Xinjiang, watching over Uighur officials in more junior positions, and he seemed to enjoy the blessing of top leaders, including Yu Zhengsheng, then China’s most senior official for ethnic issues, who visited the county in 2015.

Mr. Wang set about beefing up security in Yarkand but he also pushed economic development to address ethnic discontent. And he sought to soften the party’s religious policies, declaring that there was nothing wrong with having a Quran at home and encouraging party officials to read it to better understand Uighur traditions.

When the mass detentions began, Mr. Wang did as he was told at first and appeared to embrace the task with zeal.

He built two sprawling new detention facilities, including one as big as 50 basketball courts, and herded 20,000 people into them.

He sharply increased funding for the security forces in 2017, more than doubling spending on outlays such as checkpoints and surveillance to 1.37 billion renminbi, or about $180 million.

And he lined up party members for a rally in a public square and urged them to press the fight against terrorists. “Wipe them out completely,” he said. “Destroy them root and branch.”

But privately, Mr. Wang had misgivings, according to the confession that he later signed, which would have been carefully vetted by the party.

He was under intense pressure to prevent an outburst of violence in Yarkand, and worried the crackdown would provoke a backlash.

The authorities set numeric targets for Uighur detentions in parts of Xinjiang, and while it is unclear if they did so in Yarkand, Mr. Wang felt the orders left no room for moderation and would poison ethnic relations in the county.

He also worried that the mass detentions would make it impossible to record the economic progress he needed to earn a promotion.

The leadership had set goals to reduce poverty in Xinjiang. But with so many working-age residents being sent to the camps, Mr. Wang was afraid the targets would be out of reach, along with his hopes for a better job.

His superiors, he wrote, were “overly ambitious and unrealistic.”

“The policies and measures taken by higher levels were at gaping odds with realities on the ground and could not be implemented in full,” he added.

To help enforce the crackdown in southern Xinjiang, Mr. Chen transferred in hundreds of officials from the north. Publicly, Mr. Wang welcomed the 62 assigned to Yarkand. Privately, he seethed that they did not understand how to work with local officials and residents.

The pressure on officials in Xinjiang to detain Uighurs and prevent fresh violence was relentless, and Mr. Wang said in the confession — presumably signed under pressure — that he drank on the job. He described one episode in which he collapsed drunk during a meeting on security.

“While reporting on my work in the afternoon meeting, I rambled incoherently,” he said. “I’d just spoken a few sentences and my head collapsed on the table. It became the biggest joke across the whole prefecture.”

Thousands of officials in Xinjiang were punished for resisting or failing to carry out the crackdown with sufficient zeal. Uighur officials were accused of protecting fellow Uighurs, and Gu Wensheng, the Han leader of another southern county, was jailed for trying to slow the detentions and shield Uighur officials, according to the documents.

Secret teams of investigators traveled across the region identifying those who were not doing enough. In 2017, the party opened more than 12,000 investigations into party members in Xinjiang for infractions in the “fight against separatism,” more than 20 times the figure in the previous year, according to official statistics.

Mr. Wang may have gone further than any other official.

Quietly, he ordered the release of more than 7,000 camp inmates — an act of defiance for which he would be detained, stripped of power and prosecuted.

I undercut, acted selectively and made my own adjustments, believing that rounding up so many people would knowingly fan conflict and deepen resentment,” Mr. Wang wrote.
Without approval and on my own initiative,” he added, “I broke the rules.

Brazen Defiance

Mr. Wang quietly disappeared from public view after September 2017.

About six months later, the party made an example of him, announcing that he was being investigated for “gravely disobeying the party central leadership’s strategy for governing Xinjiang.”

The internal report on the investigation was more direct. “He should have given his all to serving the party,” it said. “Instead, he ignored the party central leadership’s strategy for Xinjiang, and he went as far as brazen defiance.”

Both the report and Mr. Wang’s confession were read aloud to officials across Xinjiang. The message was plain: The party would not tolerate any hesitation in carrying out the mass detentions.

Propaganda outlets described Mr. Wang as irredeemably corrupt, and the internal report accused him of taking bribes on construction and mining deals and paying off superiors to win promotions.

The authorities also emphasized he was no friend of Uighurs. To hit poverty-reduction targets, he was said to have forced 1,500 families to move into unheated apartments in the middle of the winter. Some villagers burned wood indoors to keep warm, leading to injuries and deaths, his confession said.

But Mr. Wang’s greatest political sin was not revealed to the public. Instead, the authorities hid it in the internal report.

“He refused,” it said, “to round up everyone who should be rounded up.”

Source: ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of MuslimsMore than 400 pages of internal Chinese documents provide an unprecedented inside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.By Austin Ramzy and Chris BuckleyPRINT EDITION‘Show Absolutely No Mercy’: Inside China’s Mass Detentions|November 17, 2019, Page A1

‘Plain cruel’: Vanuatu stops newspaper chief boarding plane home after China stories

Another reminder of the influence of China:

The media director of a Vanuatu newspaper whose visa renewal was refused this month has been barred from flying home to Vanuatu from Brisbane with his partner.

Dan McGarry, who has lived in Vanuatu for 16 years, applied to have his work permit renewed earlier this year but it was rejected. McGarry believes his visa was refused due to articles he had published about China’s influence in Vanuatu.

In July the Daily Post broke the story of Vanuatu deporting six Chinese nationals – four of whom had obtained Vanuatu citizenship – without due process or access to legal counsel.

McGarry said he was “quite confident” it was that series of reports which had upset the government.

McGarry, who is Canadian, left the country to attend a forum in Brisbane on media freedom in Melanesia, at which leading journalists and the editors from the region spoke about attacks on journalistic freedom in the region and discussed his case in detail.

Tech firm blacklisted in U.S. over facial-recognition allegations invited to Vancouver conference

Yet another story on the obliviousness, wilful blindness and complicity of institutions and individuals with respect to serious human and minority rights violations in China:

A Vancouver conference promoting business links between Canada and China is under fire for inviting a company that’s blacklisted in the United States for its work monitoring the Uighur ethnic group in China.

Jimmy Zhou, executive director of SenseTime, is one of the Chinese corporate leaders invited to speak at the China Forum to be held Nov. 16 and 17 and sponsored by BizChina Club from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

SenseTime is an artificial intelligence startup based in Hong Kong that has worked with Chinese tech giant Huawei to launch a facial recognition program, according to the latter’s website.

In early October, the U.S. Department of Commerce blacklisted SenseTime with other Chinese tech companies for alleged human rights violations against Uighurs in Xinjiang province. Facial recognition technologies from these firms have reportedly been used by the Chinese government to monitor the Muslim minority in the northwestern Chinese province.

Shalina Nurly, youth leader for the Vancouver Uighur Association, said the event at the Vancouver Convention Centre is a disappointment, and the group is considering mounting a protest.

“We have been let down by the UBC community,” said Nurly in an email to CBC News.

“At a time where the world is re-experiencing the Nazi concentration camps [in Xinjiang], we as Canadians should be joining the U.S. as it takes a stand against Communist China for the basic fundamental rights of the Uighur and other Muslim minority groups.”

Promoted as ‘great opportunity’

The event has been promoted by UBC president Santa Ono and George Chow, B.C. minister of state for trade, who describes the two-day conference in a promotional video as “a great opportunity to bridge Canadian and Chinese business and culture.”

The conference has also received support from the Chinese consulate in Vancouver, according to a message on the Chinese instant messaging platform WeChat.

Nurly, a 19-year-old student at Simon Fraser University, also expressed concern about Lina Chen, the chief editor of Sina Weibo, appearing at the conference.

As China’s major social media platform, Sina Weibo has censored topics that Beijing deems politically sensitive, including the animated TV series South Park and the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

“What is peculiar about Lina Chen is that she is the deputy secretary of the Chinese Communist Party for her company. How that works is in China, every private company has such a committee in place for the party to get control of the private sector,” said Nurly.

According to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, 68 per cent of China’s private companies had an internal communist presence by the end of 2016, and that continues to grow.

Business with China carries ‘high risks’

Mabel Tung, the president of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, which organizes the Tiananmen anniversary vigils and rallies in support of Hong Kong protesters, said Canadians should be vigilant about Chinese business ties.

“The recent case of Canada’s two Michaels [Kovrig and Spavor], arbitrarily detained in China since December 2018 without formal charges … serves as a blunt reminder to us Canadians that doing business with communist China carries very high risks that are entirely unpredictable.”

BizChina Club’s president, Michelle Lau, said she was “surprised to hear” about the concerns from local Uighurs, but added that her association “will certainly take these concerns into consideration moving forward.”

A UBC spokesperson said the university is “proud of the initiative and work of all students who are engaging on global issues and ideas.”

Both SenseTime and Sina Weibo have not responded to interview requests.

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/ubc-invites-blacklisted-company-1.5355536

Former Obama adviser urges Canada to scale back exchanges with Beijing and ban Huawei from 5G

Of note. Money quote highlighted:

Canada should scale back engagement with China until two Canadian hostages are released and ban telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from supplying next-generation 5G mobile technology on national-security grounds, says a member of former U.S. president Barack Obama’s national-security council.

Tarun Chhabra, who was a director on the White House national-security council from 2015-17 and is now a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institute, said Beijing crossed a “red line” in arresting Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in retaliation for the detention of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

“There still has to be a red line, and arbitrary arrests like the two Michaels have to be the red line,” Mr. Chhabra said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Wednesday.

He said he had expected Beijing’s use of what he called “hostage diplomacy” to have a chilling effect on engagement between Western countries and China, including unofficial discussions and interaction on a non-official level.

“I have to say, I am somewhat disappointed by the fact that hasn’t been the case,” Mr. Chhabra said. “There’s obviously official government business that has to go on, there’s going to be some commerce … [but] I think all of us should be sending a stronger message to Beijing.”

Mr. Chhabra said countries such as Japan, South Korea and Norway have faced “intimidation and coercion” during disputes with China, and he urged liberal democracies to “inoculate themselves” to withstand this bullying.

The Canadian military was criticized after The Globe reported that Ottawa sent 170 athletes and coaches to an armed-forces sports competition in China earlier this month. China’s embassy in Canada cited this participation in the games as more evidence that Beijing’s conduct is not costing it allies. Small-business minister Mary Ng came under fire for travelling to Beijing this summer, even as the two Canadians remained jailed, and tweeting about the ice cream that a Canadian firm is selling there.

“Beijing is very attuned to opportunities to use symbolic gestures, sometimes ones that are perceived to be routine or that have been long-scheduled … as propaganda weapons,” Mr. Chhabra said. “I think you have to review all kinds of exchanges and think more defensively about the ways in which they could be manipulated against you.”

Mr. Chhabra, who is visiting Canada this week to speak to the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy about China’s growing threat, said the federal government should not allow Canadian telecoms to buy Huawei’s 5G technology.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces a difficult decision on whether to join the United States, Australia and New Zealand in barring Huawei equipment from 5G mobile networks. The United Kingdom and Canada, which with those other three countries form the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, are conducting security reviews of 5G technology.

“There are serious security concerns with Huawei providing the key components of 5G networks because of cybersecurity concerns that have to do with confidentiality as well as network availability,” Mr. Chhabra said.

This week, Germany’s foreign intelligence service chief warned that Huawei should not be given a significant role in that country’s 5G network because it “cannot be trusted fully.”

Huawei has been fighting U.S. attempts to persuade its Five Eyes partners and other allies to bar the Chinese firm from supplying gear to their 5G networks.

Mr. Chhabra cautioned Ottawa and other Western countries against allowing Huawei equipment because they fear that if they did not, China would punish them economically – as Beijing has done in the case of Ms. Meng, whose father is the founder of Huawei.

China detained Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor only days after Canada arrested Ms. Meng at Vancouver International Airport on an extradition request from the U.S. government.

“Any country that has come under the boot of Chinese intimidation and coercion – why give them more leverage over you?” Mr. Chhabra asked. “Surely the answer cannot be that because we have faced Chinese coercion, we should submit ourselves to far more by making ourselves vulnerable to Chinese control over our telecommunications networks.”

He noted that China itself is wary of allowing foreign telecommunication firms a significant role inside its borders. “Internally, China has always been quite clear about the political power in telecommunications and its absolute insistence that no foreign telecommunication companies be allowed in their networks,” he said.

The U.S. has threatened to curtail sensitive intelligence to countries that allow Huawei into their 5G networks, particularly members of the Five Eyes.

Mr. Chhabra said he wished the Trump administration had not threatened U.S. allies and instead quietly focused on the technical reasons Huawei equipment can’t be trusted.

Source: https://t.co/hLChiPnQPG?amp=1

B.C. schools caught up in Hong Kong-China dispute

Ongoing:

A battle for public opinion over China and the protests in Hong Kong is playing out at schools in British Columbia.

Last week, supporters of greater democratic freedoms in Hong Kong set up an information booth at an annual professional development conference attended by hundreds of social studies teachers in the province. At the event, activists with the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, a non-governmental organization, handed out information kits to educators.

The pamphlets, which organizers hoped would reach mainland Chinese students, draw attention to the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989 as well as information about the Hong Kong protests, criticizing China’s increasing suppression of the city’s freedoms.

“We are not against China, we are against the communist regime,” says one flyer.

The campaign took place days after a teacher at Steveston-London Secondary School in Richmond, just south of Vancouver, showed her Mandarin class students trailers for a patriotic Chinese film celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The students were given a list of questions to discuss the trailers, but the assignment sparked complaints from parents that the trailers were pro-China propaganda and the school asked the teacher to withdraw the assignment. The principal sent a letter to parents saying the teacher intended to use the trailers to show students a historical event or cultural activity in China and the assignment was for “oral practice only.”

The two events were not linked, but are both examples of heightened tensions in B.C. around Hong Kong’s struggle for greater democratic rights from China – an inflammatory subject in the sizable ex-pat community in Vancouver. The tensions spilled out in demonstrations on Vancouver street corners this summer, with pro-Hong Kong activists squaring off against pro-Beijing demonstrators. Scuffles over the destruction of pro-Hong Kong signs have also been videotaped and posted to social media.

According to Greg Neumann, vice-president of the B.C. Social Studies Teachers Association, 46 organizations, including Amnesty International and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, set up booths on Friday to hand out materials to the province’s educators.

“We would not accept any organization that promotes any sort of illegal activity, or hatred in any form toward any group, especially those which are marginalized. We will not censor the messages of those promoting peace, justice, love, democracy, or any of the key values we have in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Mr. Neumann said in an e-mail.

He added it is up to the teachers attending the conference to judge for themselves the usefulness and appropriateness of the resources provided by the exhibitors.

Prof. Wanda Cassidy, director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Education, Law and Society, said the topic of the materials being offered to teachers by the pro-Hong Kong society fits with social studies education.

“Social studies education encourages debate and discussion about all sorts of current local and world topics and teachers generally introduce students to a variety of perspectives on any given controversial topic,” she wrote in an e-mail.

“This might include examining different sorts of materials and messages that various groups convey. This fosters critical thinking, a main goal of social studies.”

Mabel Tung, chair of the pro-democracy society, said her group has been spreading the history of Tiananmen Square protests and massacre for years and providing tools and resources for teachers, but last week’s campaign was their first attempt to promote information about Hong Kong protests to B.C. educators.

“We want to tell the message to all Canadians to stand up for Hong Kong, to stand for the Hong Kong people, to fight for democracy,” she said. “Whatever is happening in Hong Kong, it may be happening anywhere in the world.”

One flyer distributed to teachers listed several reasons why many Hong Kongers are protesting, and why they fear Hong Kong being governed by the Chinese Communist Party.

“Because the Hong Kong government and the Chinese Communist Party is eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy: Communist infiltration of Hong Kong legislature; suppressing journalistic freedoms and free speech …” the flyer says.

Ms. Tung said her group hopes teachers can help reach students from mainland China with what she said was the correct information about the protests, such as that the movement isn’t demanding independence.

Officials with the Chinese consulate in Vancouver objected to the pamphlet campaign, saying it’s an effort by agitators from a foreign country trying to interfere in Hong Kong affairs, which they consider China’s domestic affairs.

“We think this should also be brought to the Canadian authorities’ attention and should be stopped from happening again. Furthermore, the indicated behavior should be condemned as it has nothing to do with freedom of expression but purely attempts to provoke political dispute by using public platform,” the statement reads.

When asked for comment, a spokesman with the Ministry of Education provided a statement noting that B.C. boards of education are responsible for choosing the resources that are used in their local schools.

Ken Tung, former chair of social service organization SUCCESS and a volunteer for the pro-democracy group, said activists also discussed modern China with participants at the teachers’ event.

“People need those backgrounds to talk about our international relationship – Sino-Canada relationship,” he said.

“The students definitely need to understand the international relationship, international trade, [and] how we work with Canadian values with those countries.”

Source: handed out information kits

Why Haven’t Islamic Powers Criticized China For Brutalizing Muslims?

Some valid questions, written from a conservative perspective:

Anyone observing academia from within would know that most of the research coming out of a majority of social science departments is meaningless and irrelevant. It’s a self-referential racket that squanders money on bureaucratic nonsense and on research subjects completely dissociated with normal life and policy.

Had it not been so, right now there would be scores of scholarships and funding to find out the causality behind a single puzzling phenomenon: What explains otherwise virulent, hyper-activist, and volatile Islamic countries and jihadist groups being completely subservient to China?

It is, of course, unthinkable that India, the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, Russia, or any European Union country would get away with what China is doing without a response from Islamic countries. After all, China is routinely, systematically, and violently attacking the Islamic countries’ fellow religious practitioners.

Islamic states and civil society are not otherwise shy about showing their displeasure and have resorted on other policy priorities to collective action via proxy forces, demonstrations, and active funding of jihadist groups. China has trade and military ties with all the major Islamic states, with major investments in Pakistan, Central Asia, Iran, and the Middle East.

So how did China manage to earn the subservience, when more than 1 million Muslims are interned in Chinese concentration camps? And what does that mean for Western policy that we couldn’t manage that feat through continuous appeasement?

The West Is in Too Deep with China

China has compromised and infiltrated Western big corporates and universities. For decades since the end of the Second World War, in the West among both libertarians and conservatives, the market has been worshiped as something larger than the nation-state, and now that the market has decided China’s money is more important than Western social cohesion, the fault lines are increasingly becoming prominent.

As Jim Antle recently wrote in The American Conservative, this is the modern metaphorical version of the proverbial corporatists selling the rope to Lenin by which he plans to hang them. But China should ideally shock both liberals and leftists as well and align them with conservatives. As Matthew Walther wrote, the barbarism in China is incomparable and unprecedented but should ideally bring the left and right together. The fact that it doesn’t shows how compromised the situation is.

Walther writes:

“I cannot believe I am typing this about a man who eight years ago said he would be walking on Mars by now, but Newt Gingrich is absolutely right. Our leaders are not prepared to deal with China. Not only do they lack the cunning and the willpower — they lack the requisite bargaining tools. We are in too deep, and China knows it. Any concession we could possibly demand of them will require a corresponding one that we are unable to grant.

Besides, it is not clear to me that a substantial number of Americans particularly wants to see our relations with China change. We are happy to buy cheap water bottles and Halloween decorations and licensed cartoon merchandise and mobile phones. We want our movies shown in Chinese theaters and our sports leagues to have large Chinese fan bases. From our home in this consumer paradise hell looks impossibly remote.

Very well. That’s on us to fix. But what explains the muted reaction from the Islamic world? This is an important question. While for liberals and neoconservatives every two-penny authoritarian looks like the next Adolf Hitler, only one great power that we know of is actively running concentration camps, where reportedly more than 1 million people are enslaved with no rights or freedom, women are being raped, and Mengeleian experiments are being conducted on live human subjects.

Now, as with any news this gruesome, there is always a need for caution on how much to believe and what to ignore. But no smoke can exist without some fire, and if even a quarter of the news coming out of dissidents is true, the reality is horrific.”

Why Are Islamic Leaders Silent?

The strangest part is the deadly silence from Islamic leaders. Naturally, this leads to a few questions. Are the Islamic countries afraid of China more than they are of the West? Is that because they worry about losing Chinese investment, or is that because they know that if they provoke China to the point of a war, Chinese military will not follow human rights rules during engagement?

It is unlikely that Chinese military in a war situation would follow the careful “minimal-civilian-casualty” mode of warfare or counterinsurgency the West currently practices. Is that a deterrent?

From Pakistan, to Iran, to Saudi Arabia, to Turkey, all the leading Islamic powers are silent about literally millions of their fellow religious practitioners being brutalized, as are the countless jihadist groups from Indonesia to Iraq. This could mean only one thing: that the Islamic states and jihadist groups are more afraid of China than they are of anyone else.

Consider any other power — the EU, the U.S., the U.K., Russia, India, or Israel — acting like China, and imagine what the reaction would be. Where are the mass protests? Where are the flag burnings? Where are the embassy attacks? Where are the jihadist bombings of Chinese economic interests in Africa and elsewhere? That question as to why there aren’t any needs to be probed for strictly strategic reasons. What did the Chinese manage to do that we couldn’t, after billions in aid, hundreds of thousands of refugees resettled, and humanitarian wars?

For liberals, neoconservatives, or Trotskyists, and anyone else who prefers values more than interests, the answer is always more universalism and internationalism. Tyranny and despotism need to be confronted forcefully at every juncture, even to the point of overstretching militarily and financially. National conservatives and realists, for example, believe in narrow realpolitik. To them, interests matter more, and only when interests are threatened.

China’s Rise Should Trouble Liberals and Conservatives

In one current case, however, everyone should agree that the rise of China should concern both conservative-realists and liberals. Liberals should be worried about human rights in Hong Kong, which Ben Domenech chronicled here, as well as the influence of Chinese authoritarianism within Western institutions. Conservative realists should be worried that China is a growing peer rival great power with hegemonic aspirations in Asia, a growing navy, and powerful research in AI and genetics unhindered by gender-diversity nonsense.

China is a power determined to hollow out the West from within. This is something the Soviets couldn’t do due to their economic model. One shudders to think, however, how much manufacturing the Western corporate sector then would have funneled to cheap Russian labor to hollow out heartland England and America, had the autarkic Soviets been more like globally integrated state-capitalist China.

Even for the sake of academic and strategic inquiry, both liberals and conservatives should focus on trying to find the answer to the question: What is the Chinese secret strategy through which they conquered the entire Islamic world and managed to earn its submissive obedience without firing a single shot or losing a single life in futile humanitarian wars, such as the ones fought with blood and treasure, since Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s?

Source: Why Haven’t Islamic Powers Criticized China For Brutalizing Muslims?

Beijing says Canadian military participation at Chinese sports competition more proof it’s not losing global support

Another reminder of how the 2020 International Metropolis conference in Beijing will be presented as legitimization of the regime’s repressive policies towards minorities (e.g., “re-education camps” for Uighurs, Tibet) and general human rights abuses.

How DND and others attending didn’t think or consider how this would be presented hard to understand.

If you haven’t already, please consider signing the petition a number of us initiated against the holding of the conference in Beijing: http://chng.it/kfzPmtVk

Beijing’s embassy in Canada says the fact the Canadian military just sent a “big delegation” to a sporting competition in China is more evidence the Asian power is not losing friends.

Canada-China relations are in a deep freeze after Beijing locked up two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Ottawa’s detention of a Chinese high-tech executive on an extradition request from the United States. China banned Canadian pork and beef and severely curbed purchases of Canadian canola seed and soybeans.

China has also come under heavy criticism for how the Beijing-backed administration in Hong Kong is handling unprecedented protests there, and in the mounting scrutiny of the internment of an estimated one million Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province.

But the Chinese government, through its representatives in Canada, wants Canadians to know Beijing is not isolated or losing support.

It posted a statement on the website of its embassy in Canada to criticize a column published in The Globe and Mail last week, titled How China Loses Friends and Alienates People. The guest column by a U.S. academic discussed the backlash from China after Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, tweeted remarks in support of the protests in Hong Kong and said bullying is self-defeating behaviour that will cost Beijing support.

The embassy said the list of China’s friends is growing. “More and more countries commend China’s foreign policy and development path. China’s friends are all over the world. This is a fact that can neither be obliterated nor changed by some people’s groundless accusations,” the Chinese embassy said.

“In the future, we will have more and more friends in various fields.”

It highlighted the presence of Canada and other nations in the World Military Games, held in China from Oct. 18 to 27.

International participation in the games, which attracted “9,308 military athletes from 109 countries, including a big delegation from Canada, speaks volumes in this regard,” the embassy said.

Ottawa didn’t issue any news release before or during the games to draw attention to Canada’s participation.

Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations at the Department of National Defence, said Canada sent 114 athletes, 57 coaches and support staff.

Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said he’s surprised Canada sent soldiers.

He said Canada must rethink how it engages with Beijing. “Now that we have seen the dark side of China, we have to have a much more realistic approach to China. Yes, we have to engage them … but at the same time we have to take into account they can be very brutal if we do something they don’t like.”

Mr. Saint-Jacques said China’s pressure on other countries and companies to avoid criticism of its conduct is growing: “Their list of red lines is getting longer all the time. It used to be Falun Gong and Tibet and Taiwan. Now it’s Hong Kong and Xinjiang too.”

The Defence Department did not directly answer when asked why Canada sent athletes to China even as Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland accuses Beijing of arbitrarily detaining former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

The department said Canada “remains deeply concerned by China’s actions, including the arbitrary detention,” added that it hoped the games foster friendship.

“The spirit of the World Military Games is to create a space for friendly competition among armed forces,” Mr. Le Bouthillier said.

China expert Charles Burton, who served in the Canadian embassy in Beijing, said National Defence should not have participated in the military sports games.

“At this time, there shouldn’t be any celebratory activities going on between Canada and China, and I would suggest a major sports competition is about celebrating friendship and therefore I think it was a mistake for our military to go,” he said.

Mr. Burton said Canada’s participation “must be quite offensive” to the families of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor. The two were arrested and later charged with stealing state secrets after Canada detained senior Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive Meng Wanzhou last December. They have been in prison for almost a year.

Canada’s new ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, undertook consular visits with Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig over the last week.

Mr. Burton, a senior fellow at Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad, said he hopes the Canadian government will not send athletes to the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in February, 2022, because that would be signalling “that relations are normal and passively accepting what China is doing.”

Conservative MP Peter Kent said it was inappropriate to send athletes to Beijing.

“It is unacceptable. Basically, the government should be curtailing completely collegial events at a time when Canadians are held hostage and where trade embargoes have been improperly placed on contracted Canadian sectors,” he said.

Mr. Kent also said Canada should also consider boycotting the Olympics.

Source: pointing to

Is Beijing sticking its nose into the election campaign in Markham?

More on foreign influence and divisions within the Chinese Canadian community, and the related risks to democracy:

The suburban Toronto community of Markham has become ground zero for Chinese government influence operations in Canada, which aims to manipulate and subvert Canadian debate on both domestic and foreign policy that intersects with Chinese interests.

Markham, one of Canada’s most ethnically diverse cities, is home to 100,000 Chinese community members who have become the focus of domestic and foreign disinformation efforts in this election. Recent reports have exposed efforts to target this community with false narratives about illegal immigration and government plans to legalize hard drugs, which have been promoted in Chinese-language local Conservative campaign material, Facebook ads and on the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat.

The community is also deeply divided among those who support greater freedom and democracy for Hong Kong and those who—through coercion, economic necessity or fealty—support the Chinese Communist Party and regime.

This split was most recently evidenced, when pro-regime forces organized an anti-Hong Kong democracy rally in Markham in August to counter pro-democracy groups who have rallied in support of demonstrators in Hong Kong. Of note, the anti-Hong Kong rally was attended by a former influential Ontario cabinet minister, and Markham-Unionville MPP, Michael Chan.

Chan was named in an explosive 2015 Globe and Mail article about Chinese regime influence in Canadian politics. The report claimed that CSIS, Canada’s intelligence agency, briefed Ontario officials about Chan, who according to them “had developed too close a relationship with China’s consulate in Toronto, raising fears the minister was susceptible to interference from Beijing that could put Canada’s national interests at risk.”

Chan denied the allegations, writing in an open letter that the claims were “offensive and totally false.” He later slapped the Globe and Mail and leading Canadian China expert, Charles Burton, with a lawsuit.

At the August pro-Beijing rally in Markham, Chan reportedly spoke in support of the Hong Kong government’s tactics against pro-democracy protestors, when he declared that “we support Hong Kong’s police strictly handling unrest, Hong Kong’s government carefully defending the rule of law, China’s government carefully observing Hong Kong”.

In addition to its crackdown in Hong Kong, Beijing has also faced international criticism for its mass violations of human rights in the Western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where authorities have detained and imprisoned one million ethnic Uyghurs in concentration camps, where they are reportedly subjected to slave labour for Chinese entrepreneurs. Among them is Canadian-Uyghur, Huseyin Celil who has suffered in Chinese prisons since 2006.

With one of the largest Chinese constituencies in Canada, it is remarkable that these issues (including the detention and torture of two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig as part of Beijing’s Huawei hostage-diplomacy) have been largely dismissed by local federal election candidates.

At a local election debate last week, candidates were asked about whether they supported Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and if they condemned the ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs taking place in Xinjiang. Both Liberal candidate Alan Ho, and incumbent Conservative MP Bob Saroya, stated their support for human rights and free speech. Unlike their own party leaders, however, they failed to condemn the brutal violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators by the Hong Kong and Beijing governments. Instead, both Saroya and Ho echoed Beijing’s warnings against Canadian interference in Hong Kong affairs.

“We have to make sure that we are not interfering with some of those governments,” warned Saroya. Ho sidestepped criticizing Hong Kong police brutality, telling the audience instead that “we need to focus on the real issues that Hong Kong faces under [a] ‘one country, two systems’ model. Like education, jobs, that kind of thing.”

Ho, never veering far from the script in a binder laid out in front of him, criticized Saroya for accepting a fully paid trip to China by the Communist Party in 2018.

Gloria Fung, President of Canada-Hong Kong Link, a non-profit Hong Kong diaspora advocacy group, is deeply concerned about undue foreign influence and of Canadian organizations that are linked to the Chinese government. Of those MPs who accept Communist Party funded travel to China, she warns that “there are no such things as free trips—you have to pay them back later.” Her organization is calling for legislation that would curb foreign influence and expansion of Canadian Magnitsky sanctions to target those authorities who are responsible for violent crackdown in Hong Kong.

When Mr. Ho appeared at my door while canvassing last week, I used the opportunity to ask him about his own travel to China and his position on China’s human rights abuses.

“Seven years ago, when I brought to Markham the world’s longest [dancing] dragon, I went to China three times, all at my own expense,” he told me.

When I asked him about mass Chinese human rights abuses against one million Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Mr. Ho suggested that it could be “fake news,” despite countless reports confirming it by western international human rights organizations and mainstream media. Mr. Ho told me that we should “be careful about a lot of messages, because a lot of people are spreading fake news, wrong messages, even here,” he explained.

Surprised by the number of Uyghurs reportedly in the Chinese camps, Ho exclaimed, “a million people? How big is that camp? A million people? A million people is half of Toronto’s population. How could they do that?”

Mr. Ho’s campaign stated later, in an email, that he had misunderstood the pronunciation of the word “Uyghur,” and therefore didn’t understand the initial question. Yet the Ho campaign failed to condemn the Chinese government for its campaign against the Uyghurs. Mr. Saroya never responded to requests for interviews.

Local Green Party candidate, Elvin Kao, did write on Facebook that he supports imposing “export controls on military, social surveillance, and crowd-control-related technology” as well as Magnitsky sanctions against those authorities “who are responsible for violation of human rights, rule of law and autonomy in Hong Kong,” positions which are shared by the NDP in response to a questionnaire sent out by a coalition of pro-democracy Hong Kong advocacy groups.

As truth and facts fall victim to candidates who pander to groups aligned with Beijing, the erosion of our democracy may not fall far behind. Every Canadian voter can help protect it, by asking local candidates about their positions on human rights in China, and Canada’s policy towards them. By doing so, we remind those candidates that core Canadian values of human rights, democracy, freedom and rule-of-law do matter, and that we expect our political representatives to respect and defend them.

Source: Is Beijing sticking its nose into the election campaign in Markham?

‘Illegal Superstition’: China Jails Muslims For Practicing Islam, Relatives Say

More good in-depth reporting regarding Chinese repression of Muslims:

This August, Aibota Zhanibek received a surprising call in Kazakhstan from a relative through Chinese chat app WeChat. It was about her sister, Kunekai Zhanibek.

Aibota, 35, a Kazakh citizen born in China, knew that Kunekai, 33, had been held for about seven months in a detention camp in China’s Shawan county, in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. For six of those months, Kunekai was forced to make towels and carpets for no pay, Aibota says. On the call, Aibota was told that Kunekai had been released and assigned a job in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

That was the good news. But the relative also told Aibota Zhanibek that her 65-year-old mother, Nurzhada Zhumakhan, had been sentenced in June to 20 years in Urumqi’s No. 2 Women’s Prison. According to a verdict sent to Zhanibek ‘s relatives, Zhumakhan was guilty of “illegally using superstition to break the rule of law” and “gathering chaos to disrupt social order.”

As Muslim Kazakhs, Zhanibek’s mother and sister are among the targets of a sprawling security operation by Chinese authorities. Human rights experts estimate that 1.5 million Uighur Muslims and members of other ethnic minority groups, including Chinese-born Kazakhs, have been detained in Xinjiang since 2016. Former detainees say that while in detention they were forced to memorize Chinese communist propaganda and learn Mandarin and were occasionally violently interrogated orbeaten..

The government has said the operations are part of a reeducation campaign and defends its detentions and sophisticated surveillance system across Xinjiang as necessary counterterrorism measures. Senior Xinjiang officials have said that most of those brought to the centers have been returned to society. But reporting suggests that these are not mere vocational training centers and that detentions, surveillance — and worse — continue.

Last month in Kazakhstan, NPR interviewed 26 relatives of ethnic Kazakhs and Uighurs currently detained or imprisoned in Xinjiang and five former detainees. They said that rather than setting free reeducated citizens, the authorities have been transferring many detainees to formal prisons. Those who have been released remain under strict surveillance.

“I miss my mother,” Zhanibek says in her home in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Since this summer, twice a month, her relatives have been able to go to an Urumqi police station and have video calls with her mother. Zhumakhan is nearly blind, hairless and extremely thin since being detained on June 8, 2018, her relatives said.

Zhanibek still also worries about her sister, despite her release: “Nobody is in a good situation. My sister has been released and has a job, but she still has no freedom. She cannot go where she wants. How can you say things are getting better?” she says.

“Targeting people somehow related to religion”

Xinjiang courts have been sentencing detainees to lengthy prison terms — sometimes up to 20 years — in hasty trials where little but a verdict is presented, according to relatives and an ex-detainee. The sentences overwhelmingly target citizens with religious Muslim backgrounds; 23 of the 32 people sentenced in Xinjiang recently were religious students, imams or people who prayed regularly, according to their family members.

“It was a closed court trial. … They just read the verdict to him, according to his parents,” Shakhidyam Memanova says of proceedings in May in which her husband, Nuermaimaiti Maimaitiyiming, a Chinese-born Uighur, was sentenced to 17 years. He is now in prison in Xinyuan county.

One night in May 2018, her husband, a carpet seller, was taken out in handcuffs and a hood in front of their two young children. Memanova suspects it was because he took Quranic classes when he was 14. But in the absence of any trial documentation, neither she nor her husband’s parents can be sure. Her in-laws can video call with their son once a month at a police station, and what they have described to her is not reassuring. “[Maimaitiyiming] looks very bad. He has lost a lot of weight,” Memanova says.

Bahedati Aken, 27, is also being held in a Xinyuan county prison, sentenced last June to 15 years in prison for studying the Quran with an also-imprisoned imam named Muhtourhan Kanodil, according to Aken’s aunt, Gulbaran Omirali.

“[Aken] was 13 when he attended two months of religious courses,” Omirali says. “I do not understand why something so long ago and which was legal at the time is now a crime.”

Kassym Tursynkan’s two younger brothers were given lengthy prison sentences this summer, he says, for being religious Muslims.

“They are targeting people somehow related to religion,” concludes Kassym Tursynkan. His two younger brothers — Kasyem, an imam, and Karkyn, who prayed regularly — were sentenced to 20 and 10 years, respectively, this summer and are now being held in the northern Xinjiang city of Wusu.

Tursynkan believes his brothers were betrayed, particularly Kasyem the imam, who he says was regularly praised by local religious authorities for upholding ethnic harmony: “They were not extremists. They did what they were allowed to do within the state limits.”

Some detention centers have been outfitted with makeshift courts, according to former detainees. Ergali Ermekuly was tried on April 7, 2018, in a detention center court in Xinjiang’s Huocheng county. He received a threeyear sentence based on evidence allegedly taken from his cellphone showing he had visited Kazakhstan, downloaded WhatsApp and listened to audio describing China’s mosque-destruction campaign in Xinjiang. He was not allowed to see the evidence itself.

“They did tell me I could hire a lawyer, but based on cases of other people in the detention camp, those who hired lawyers were given longer sentences because it was seen as a sign of opposition to the state,” says Ermekuly, now living in Kazakhstan.

Ermekuly was freed during an agreement between Kazakhstan and China to release 2,000 Chinese-born ethnic Kazakhs at the end of 2018. But he says his life has already been destroyed. “I do not have a family, and I do not have my home,” Ermekuly, whose wife divorced him this year, says. “I came back [to Kazakhstan], but I have nothing.”

“They threatened my father”

While relatives describe being able to contact their loved ones through video monitors at local police stations, they say they have not been able to visit them in prison. What little information they can glean from infrequent contact suggests that those sent to Xinjiang’s prisons are held in poor conditions.

Almakhan Myrzan says her brother Bakytzhan, a former imam at a mosque in Xinjiang, was sentenced in May to 14 years in prison in a closed trial with no relatives present. The verdict was delivered by mail to his family.

Myrzan says her brother was allowed one phone call from prison in Urumqi. “When he finally called his wife, he sounded really faint. He could not even remember his own name at first,” Myrzan says.

The family members of another prisoner in Wusu, Berzat Bolatkhan, have phoned police repeatedly to find out why he was sentenced to 17 years in August.

“They threatened my father, saying, ‘If you keep asking about your son, you will end up the same way,’ ” Bolatkhan’s brother Yerzat recalls.

Construction tenders for Wusu prison show it underwent an expansion beginning in August 2016.

“Suitable jobs”

Xinjiang officials, however, say they are winding down the sprawling network of detention centers.

“Most people who received educational training returned to society and returned home,” Alken Tuniaz, the Xinjiang government’s vice chairman, said at a news briefing in July.

The government’s chairman, Shohrat Zakir, said about 90% of those released have found “suitable jobs.”

Some younger, well-educated detainees have been released and assigned to jobs, say relatives. But once they leave detention, they remain closely monitored through heavy state surveillance set up in the region.

University-educated Razila Nural, an ethnic Kazakh woman, was forced to work in a textile factory in Xinjiang after authorities deemed her fit for release from a detention facility in August 2018. Since being released from the factory late last December, Nural has effectively disappeared, says her mother.

“I last spoke to Razila this January and have not had contact since,” says her mother, Aiytkali Ganiguli. “She said, ‘I am healthy. I am working now. Do not believe fake media reports about my working in a black factory.’ ”

A graduate student forced to work in a textile plant located within another detention facility was allowed to resume his graduate studies this year — under strict monitoring. “He is not permitted to travel anywhere except the route from his home to his classes and back,” says a relative in China who did not provide a name for fear of retaliation from the authorities.

Aydarhan Salamat’s aunt Meniarbek Mariya has been imprisoned, and her mother and cousin are under constant surveillance.

Relatives of Xinjiang residents describe how they are effectively under house arrest; they must get permission to leave the township where their residency is registered.

The rules are enforced by a network of closed-circuit TV cameras, some equipped with facial recognition. Relatives say the cameras can spot whether someone in a household receives undeclared visitors, takes an unauthorized trip or turns on the lights suspiciously early or late.

“Once, my mother left to attend a relative’s funeral without public security permission, and the public security bureau called my nephew within an hour to have her come back. At checkpoints, her identification card sets off alarms. She is 80 years old,” says Aydarhan Salamat. She thinks her mother is monitored because Salamat’s aunt, Meniarbek Mariya, 46, is being held in a prison in the Xinjiang county of Yining for an unknown length of time.

Even nondetained Xinjiang residents who have relatives in detention or who have been previously detained have to check in with local administrative offices to report their movements.

“Every day, my brother still has to go to ideology classes at the local government office to rid him of religious thoughts,” says the brother of a Muslim former detainee living in the city of Hami, Xinjiang. He withheld both their names because he still lives in China and risks detention for speaking to a foreign journalist.

Gulserik Kazykhan is struggling to get more information about her detained brother-in-law from visiting relatives. “If you don’t return, the guarantors will suffer.”

Chinese state control covers all spheres of life in Xinjiang. Kunekai Zhanibek, the woman released in August and assigned a job in Urumqi, “got married recently but had to ask for state permission beforehand,” says her sister Aibota. “Can you imagine having to ask for permission about such a personal decision?”

Passports in exchange for good PR

Relatives in Kazakhstan desperate to learn more about loved ones in China are turning to a new potential source of information: the slow trickle of ethnic Kazakhs born in Xinjiang who can now get Chinese passports to travel to Kazakhstan.

Once forbidden from traveling abroad, some of Xinjiang’s ethnic Kazakh residents have even been able to procure Chinese passports this year to visit relatives in Kazakhstan for one month at a time. As a condition for the passports, the residents are told by local authorities to share only positive news about the region. Travelers must name guarantors in China, such as friends or relatives, who are punished if the travelers don’t return or if they meet people they aren’t supposed to.

“If you don’t return, the guarantors will suffer,” says Gulserik Kazykhan. Her brother-in-law Raman uly Zahrkyn was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in February for praying and for donating to his local mosque. He is being held in Wusu’s prison. She finally learned of uly Zahrkyn’s fate this May from relatives living in China who visited her in Kazakhstan. They stayed for a month before they were forced to return to Xinjiang.

Access to passports still appears strictly controlled. “There are three people from the village who can go abroad for a month, and they take turns,” says Aitalim, who goes by one name. From his fellow village residents, Aitalim learned that his cousin Aiturgan Turlan, a former religious affairs state employee, remains detained in Xinjiang’s Zhaosu county for allowing a local mosque to be built too large.

Gunikai Naruzibieke’s cousin Bayimulati Naruzibieke will spend the next decade in a Xinjiang prison.

Gunikai Naruzibieke is seeking information about the condition of her cousin Bayimulati Naruzibieke, sentenced to a decade in prison this summer and now held in the military garrison city of Shihezi.

Gunikai Naruzibieke has had a hard time persuading relatives from Xinjiang to talk to her. “My relatives are terrified to talk because there was an imam in my family who is now in Kazakhstan — he didn’t come back from a trip [there],” she says. As punishment, the imam’s guarantor, his daughter Saule, was briefly placed in a detention camp last year.

State control over Xinjiang residents extends internationally, says Ainur Turlyqozha, who lives in a village outside Almaty. Her younger brother Baiasyl disappeared into the detention system in October 2018. Turlyqozha heard he had been sentenced to prison, but she could not get confirmation from relatives who recently visited Almaty.

“One relative even came just five days ago,” says Turlyqozha. “But when they come, they will not answer my questions about my brother. They just say vaguely, ‘We have heard of something like this.’ “

Source: ‘Illegal Superstition’: China Jails Muslims For Practicing Islam, Relatives Say

Analysis: The Long Arm Of China And Free Speech

More evidence as if we did not know:

Doing business in China comes with major strings attached. This week it became evident that a few provocative words can cause those strings to tighten.

A single tweet by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong unleashed massive retaliation from China that put the team and the entire NBA on notice. China’s state TV cut off preseason games and ominously announced it would “immediately investigate all co-operation and exchanges involving the NBA.” Tencent, a major Chinese social media company with a reported $1.5 billion streaming deal with the NBA, said it will no longer stream Rockets games, even though the team is immensely popular in China.

China’s message to foreign companies and their employees is clear: Watch what you say on matters sensitive to our country if you want to do business here. This hardball response to Morey and the NBA fits a pattern of threats and reprisals against foreign organizations wading (even unintentionally) into the country’s sensitive internal politics.

Facing boycott threats this summer, Western fashion brands apologized for T-shirts that suggested that Taiwan and Hong Kong were independent countries rather than territories that are part of China. It isn’t just top executives who have paid a price for speech that offends China’s sensibilities. Last year, a Marriott employee earning $14 an hour used a company account to like a post on Twitter from a Tibetan separatist group. A Chinese tourism organization demanded an apology and urged Marriott to “seriously deal with the people responsible.” The employee was fired. When China threatens a foreign business, compliance typically prevails over resistance.

China’s efforts to impose speech controls on international companies and their workers have largely succeeded. Morey deleted his tweet. The NBA put out a statement saying the tweet doesn’t represent NBA or the Rockets, which led to an uproar in the U.S. and another statement from the NBA.

The league’s initial response provoked a torrent of criticism in the United States; in a rare show of unity, leading Democrats and Republicans rebuked the NBA for caving to China and failing to stand up for Morey’s free speech rights.

American companies have grudgingly accepted all kinds of Chinese rules for years. They may bristle about how they are forced to transfer technology in exchange for access to China’s market and about Chinese cyber spies who threaten their intellectual property. But the potential rewards — all those consumers, a middle class that’s expected to reach 550 million by 2022 — are just too great to spurn. And that means playing by China’s rules.

One notable recent exception: South Park, the sardonic, boundary busting Comedy Central cartoon. Last week’s episode, “Band in China,” appeared to offend authorities so much that all traces of the show — episodes, clips, discussion groups and social media posts — vanished from major platforms in China.

South Park‘s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, seized on the moment to issue a fake apology mocking China’s President Xi Jinping and the NBA:

OFFICIAL APOLOGY TO CHINA FROM TREY PARKER AND MATT STONE.

“Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode Wednesday at 10! Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?”

In fairness to the NBA, South Park thrives on political agitation. The basketball league has painstakingly built a thriving connection with hundreds of millions of Chinese fans.

The NBA has notably supported players and coaches who express their political views on subjects ranging from police violence to guns and President Trump. But Daryl Morey’s seven-word tweet “Fight For Freedom Stand With Hong Kong” puts the league’s progressive image to its sternest test. On Tuesday, the well-regarded NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought to clarify the league’s position, saying it would “protect its employees’ freedom of speech,” while at the same time apologizing to the league’s fans in China.

The apology failed to defuse the league’s crisis. China’s state-run television network said it was “strongly dissatisfied” with Silver’s remarks. And it bluntly declared that any speech challenging China’s “social stability” doesn’t fall within the realm of freedom of speech.

The Chinese message is loud and clear: Your free speech ends at the water’s edge.

Source: Analysis: The Long Arm Of China And Free Speech