China Cables

The China Cables are a small collection of Chinese government documents from 2017 which were leaked by exiled Uyghurs to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and published on 24 November 2019. The collection included a telegram which detailed the first known operations manual for running the Xinjiang re-education camps. Bulletins illustrate how China's centralized data collection system, mass surveillance tool Integrated Joint Operations Platform uses artificial intelligence to identify people for questioning and potential detention.[1]

The Chinese government called the cables "pure fabrication" and fake news. The revelations sparked renewed attention in the camps.

Description and contentsEdit

Exiled Uyghurs leaked the secret Chinese government documents dubbed as China Cables, which consist of a telegram called "New Secret 5656" from 2017, four bulletins/security briefings and one court document.[2]

The classified telegram details the first known operations manual for running "between 1,300 and 1,400" re-education camps of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang,[3] and is signed by Zhu Hailun, head of Xinjiang's Political and Legal Commission A, then deputy secretary of Xinjiang's Communist Party. According to a UN human rights committee, China is holding one million Uyghurs in these camps.[2]

The 4 bulletins are secret government intelligence briefings from China's centralized data collection system "Integrated Joint Operation Platform" (IJOP), which uses artificial intelligence to identify people for questioning and potential detention. It proves a connection between mass surveillance in China and the Xinjiang camps. For example, the Predictive policing program flagged 1.8 million Uyghur users for investigation who had installed the file sharing app Zapya developed by the Chinese company Dewmobile on their phones.[4] One of the bulletins reveals that during one week in June 2017 the IJOP system detected 24,412 "suspicious" persons in southern Xinjiang, 15,683 of whom were sent to "education and training" and 706 were "criminally detained".[4]

The non-classified court document is the sentencing of an Uyghur man.[2]

The main contents are:[5]

  • The camps are secret and how secrecy about their existence can be maintained.
  • Escapes are prevented by "guard towers, double-locked doors, alarms, blanket video surveillance and front gate security".
  • The camps are forced ideological and behavioral reeducation centers;
  • Detainees are held for a minimum of a year but can be imprisoned for an indefinite period.
  • Methods of forced indoctrination are detailed. For example, "detainees are scored on their use of Mandarin and their adherence to the camp's strict rules that govern everything from where they eat, carry out chores, study or even go to the toilet."
  • Prisoners receive vocational training only after release in separate facilities.
  • Methods of how to control infectious disease outbreaks are detailed.

Publication and press reportsEdit

The cables publication by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and collaborating media in 14 countries on November 23, 2019 followed a New York Times report on November 16[6][7] "puts to rest attempts by the Chinese government to portray the facilities in the western province of Xinjiang as anything other than internment camps" according to The Irish Times.[8] In 2018, the Chinese government had "legalized" the re-education camps for people accused of religious extremism, after denying such centers even existed.[9]

El Pais wrote that the Chinese Embassy in Madrid did not answers their 4 questions, namely if it collects and sends information about Uyghur citizens living in Spain or Europe to Beijing; how their visa policy has changed since 2017; if Beijing had requested to extradite Uyghur people, and if Uyghurs have the same rights as other Chinese nationals before the Embassy.[10] On December 3, 2019 Deutschlandfunk reported that China has been using DNA samples collected in the prison camps together with facial recognition technology to "map faces", a project which has been supported by European scientists. The concern is that this is done for ethnic profiling.[11] The German Max Planck Society founded the "Partner Institute for Computational Biology" and funded one scientist from the Beijing Institute of Genomics with a grant, even though he was employed by the Chinese police, the Ministry of Public Security. He published findings exploring the DNA of physical appearance traits in 2018 and 2019 in the journal Human Genetics by Springer Nature and said he had been unaware of the origins of the DNA samples of the men from Tumxuk.[12] The NYT had first reported about ethnic phenotyping in spring of 2019, calling it "automated racism".[13]

Political reactionsEdit

DomesticEdit

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on 24 November 2019 that the affairs in Xinjiang were an internal matter. The Chinese embassy in London called the cables "pure fabrication" and fake news.[7] China has censored reports about the cables and erased almost all references to ICIJ searches on the Chinese internet,[14] according to Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the collaborators of ICIJ China Cables.

InternationalEdit

European UnionEdit

The European Parliament approved a resolution condemning the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The resolution on China was adopted by 505 votes in favour, 18 against, with 47 abstentions. The resolution called on the Chinese Government to put an end to arbitrary detentions, without any charge, trial or conviction for criminal offence, of the Uyghur, Kazakh, or Tibetan ethnic minorities. The Parliament called for the sanctioning of companies and individuals that are complicit with any acts that would deter human rights.[15][16][17][18]

GermanyEdit

Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas condemned the internment of Uyghurs and insisted on talks with the Chinese government to gain access to the camps.[14]

United KingdomEdit

On 25 November 2019, the UK Foreign Office called for "immediate and unfettered UN access to the detention camps", per the Guardian, another one of the ICIJ China Cables collaborators.[19]

United StatesEdit

On November 26, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said documents confirmed China intentionally committing very significant human rights abuses in Xinjiang.[20] On October 8, amidst trade talks between the US and China, Pompeo had introduced visa restrictions on Chinese government and Communist Party officials "who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention or abuse of Uyghurs, Kazakhs or other members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, China."[21]

On 3 December 2019, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act was passed by the United States House of Representatives, awaiting consent by the Senate. It condemns abuses against Muslims, calls for the closure of mass detention camps and calls for sanctions against Chen Quanguo.[22] On June 17, 2020, US President Donald Trump signed the bill into law a week after it was passed by a veto-proof majority in Congress.[23][24]

As of November 2019, there was no response by any United Nations personnel, nor any response from Australia, Japan, Canada, any Middle Eastern state, nor the International Olympic Committee considering the fact that Beijing will be hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics.[25]

Effects on foreign businesses in XinjiangEdit

As of May 2019, there were at least 68 companies originating from the European Union, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom that have ties to Xinjiang.[26] About a dozen were German companies; Volkswagen Group operates a relatively unprofitable car manufacturing plant in Urumqi since 2013, employing 650 workers, which was criticised as existing for solely political reasons.[27]

Bosch warned the Chinese authorities against internment of their employees and said that the company offers Muslim prayer rooms for staff.[28]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Shiel, Fergus (November 23, 2019). "China Cables, China's Operating Manuals for Mass Internment". International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Read the China Cables Documents". ICIJ. November 24, 2019. Archived from the original on December 9, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  3. ^ Mamatjan Juma (November 26, 2019). "Top US Diplomat Says China Document Leak Confirms 'Very Significant' Abuses in Xinjiang". Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Welch, Dylan; Bogle, Ariel; Hui, Echo; Hutcheon, Stephen (November 25, 2019). "Arrest by algorithm: Inside the dystopian state of surveillance and repression in Xinjiang". ABC News. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  5. ^ Nik Martin (November 24, 2019). "China: Extreme brainwashing at Uighur prison camps exposed in new leak". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Ramzy, Austin; Buckley, Chris (November 16, 2019). "'Absolutely No Mercy': Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 22, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  7. ^ a b News; World (November 25, 2019). "'China cables' reveal secrets of country's Xinjiang detention camps after leak to foreign media". National Post (Canada) via Reuters. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  8. ^ Keena, Colm (November 24, 2019). "China Cables: 'The largest incarceration of a minority since the Holocaust'". Irish Times. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  9. ^ Ben Westcott; Yong Xiong (October 10, 2018). "China legalizes Xinjiang 're-education camps' after denying they exist". CNN. Archived from the original on October 10, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  10. ^ Grasso, Daniele (November 27, 2019). "Un uigur en España: "No puedo hablar con mis familiares en Xinjiang por miedo a que les pase algo"". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Archived from the original on December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  11. ^ "China - DNA-Proben von hunderten Uiguren gesammelt, um Gesichter abzubilden" (in German). December 3, 2019. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  12. ^ Wee, Sui-Lee; Mozur, Paul (December 3, 2019). "China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 5, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Mozur, Paul (April 14, 2019). "One Month, 500,000 Face Scans: How China Is Using A.I. to Profile a Minority". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on June 8, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Brössler, Daniel; Deuber, Lea; Giesen, Christoph (November 25, 2019). "China Cables - Berlin scheut Kritik an China-Geschäften" (in German). Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  15. ^ "China must close its "re-education camps" for Uyghurs in Xinjiang, MEPs say | News | European Parliament". www.europarl.europa.eu. December 19, 2019. Archived from the original on January 9, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  16. ^ "European Parliament Passes Resolution Condemning China on Treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang". Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on January 13, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  17. ^ European Union, European Parliament (December 19, 2019). "2019 Sakharov Prize laureate". op.europa.eu. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  18. ^ "EU parliament calls for China sanctions over Uighur treatment". The Economic Times. December 20, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Garside, Juliette; Graham-Harrison, Emma (November 25, 2019). "UK calls for UN access to Chinese detention camps in Xinjiang". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  20. ^ "Pompeo says documents confirm China committing 'very significant' Xinjiang abuses". Reuters. November 26, 2019. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  21. ^ Hansler, Jennifer (October 8, 2019). "US announces visa restrictions on China for Xinjiang abuses". CNN. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  22. ^ staff, Guardian; agencies (December 4, 2019). "US House approves Uighur Act calling for sanctions on China's senior officials". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  23. ^ Churchill, Owen. "Donald Trump signs Uygur human rights bill into US law". South China Morning Post. SCMP. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  24. ^ "S.178 - Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019". Congress.gov. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
  25. ^ Elizabeth M. Lynch (November 26, 2019). "Putting One's Life on the Line: Criminal Liability for Xinjiang Documents Leak". China Law & Policy. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  26. ^ Benjamin Haas (September 21, 2019). "Which European Companies Are Working in Xinjiang?". China File. Center on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society. Archived from the original on December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  27. ^ Deuber, Lea; Giesen, Christoph; Obermaier, Frederik (November 25, 2019). "China Cables - Welche Verantwortung hat VW?". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  28. ^ Preker, Alexander (November 25, 2019). "Deutsche Konzerne und die Uiguren in Xinjiang: Eine Frage der Moral". Spiegel Online. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.

External linksEdit