An ‘anti-extremism’ rally in Xinjiang (AFP/FILE)
By Ty Joplin
China is building a perfecting a police state around the restive province of Xinjiang, China. It is likely over a million Muslims and Christians have been detained and interned in ‘re-education camps’ so far.
And to help build this security apparatus, China is making and investing in technology firms to invent groundbreaking artificial intelligence programs, facial recognition technology and other tech to determine who is trustworthy and who is not.
Now, evidence is emerging that elements of this surveillance state is being exported to countries that seek greater ties with China and want to better control their people.
And if they can’t afford it, China will give them massive loans to make sure they buy Chinese tech thanks to Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is re-making entire economies to revolve around China.
The scope of the story is unparalleled, the level of rights violations could amount to crimes against humanity, and the utter lack of transparency and accountability is stunning.
To try and parse every aspect of this, Al Bawaba spoke with Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the European School of Culture and Theology, Korntal, Germany. He wrote a groundbreaking study on the matter called “Thoroughly Reforming them Toward a Healthy Heart Attitude” – China’s Political Re-Education Campaign in Xinjiang.”
In estimating how many ethnic and religious minorities have already been detained by China, Zenz acquired a secret police document. “We can extrapolate, if this document is accurate, that the number of detained persons in Xinjiang today could be closer to 1.1 million, which equates to 10-11% of the adult Muslim population of the region,” he said.
In terms of surveillance, every movement is tracked by surveillance cameras armed with the latest technology. “They are being deployed in all public spaces. In key locations, on roads, you have number plate recognition, cars being monitored, any movements…” On top of that, algorithms are being deployed to monitor purchasing and reading habits as well as conversations. Any deviance from the norm is reason for alarm in the eyes of the Chinese state.
Suspicious families can expect daily visits form party officials and informants and eventual detainment and ‘re-education.’ According to Zenz, China seeks to assimilate each and every practitioner of a religion deemed dangerous by the state and “secularize” them.
Zenz also warns that there exists little to no meaningful checks on this process, and that the international community so far has been woefully silent.
You can listen to the full interview with Adrian Zenz here, for free.