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Mass Rapes. Sweeping Surveillance. Forced Labor. Exposing China’s Crackdown on Uyghur Muslims

Mass Rapes. Sweeping Surveillance. Forced Labor. Exposing China’s Crackdown on Uyghur Muslims

Mass Rapes. Sweeping Surveillance. Forced Labor. Exposing China’s Crackdown on Uyghur Muslims

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  • Darren Byleranthropologist at the University of Colorado.
  • Abduweli AyupUyghur linguist and poet. He was detained for 15 months for running a Uyghur-language kindergarten in Xinjiang.


Image Credit: BBC

China faces widespread condemnation following a BBC report about the mass rape and sexual torture of Uyghur women and other Muslims detained in the province of Xinjiang. Women who spoke with the BBC described gang rapes, routine sexual torture using electrocution tools, forced sterilizations and men outside the prison camps paying for access to the detainees. China has rejected the report as “wholly without factual basis” and claims its mass detention of Muslim minorities is part of a “vocational training” program to counter extremism. Meanwhile, The Intercept has obtained a massive police surveillance database used by the Chinese government to monitor residents of Xinjiang, confirming China collects millions of text messages, phone contacts and call records — as well as biometric data — from Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Information collected is used to decide who to detain. We speak with Abduweli Ayup, a Uyghur linguist and poet who was detained for 15 months for running a Uyghur-language kindergarten in Xinjiang. He says he was raped, tortured with electric shocks and subjected to humiliation rituals during his detention. “What’s happening there is inhuman, and the target is the Uyghur, because of their religion and because of their culture,” he says. We also speak with anthropologist Darren Byler, author of two forthcoming books on China’s treatment of Uyghurs and technologies of reeducation.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: China is facing widespread condemnation following a BBC report about the mass rape and sexual torture of Uyghur women and other Muslims detained in the province of Xinjiang. Several former prisoners spoke on camera to the BBC’s Matthew Hill. A warning to our audience: These clips contain disturbing descriptions of sexual abuse.

MATTHEW HILL: Tursunay Ziawudun is reliving a story she can barely bring herself to tell. She was held at one of Xinjiang’s so-called reeducation camps. These satellite images show the site where Tursunay says she was held, sharing a cell with 13 other women, with a bucket for a toilet. And she’s haunted by one image: masked men coming down a camp corridor, like this one, after midnight.

TURSUNAY ZIAWUDUN: [translated] They were three men — not one, but three. They did whatever evil their mind could think of, and they didn’t spare any part of my body, biting me to the extent that it was disgusting to look at. They didn’t just rape. They were barbaric. They had bitten all over my body.

AMY GOODMAN: [Another woman] interviewed by the BBC talked about the mass rapes of detained women in Xinjiang province.

MATTHEW HILL: Many former camp inmates flee to Istanbul. Some talk of having to choose between punishment or being complicit in these crimes.

GULZIRA AUELKHAN: [translated] I worked six months as a cleaning worker for the women. Han Chinese men would pay money to have their pick of the pretty young inmates.

MATTHEW HILL: This was the first time Gulzira has told anyone the full extent of what she says she was forced to do.

GULZIRA AUELKHAN: [translated] My job is to remove their clothes and then handcuff them on their beds so they cannot move.

AMY GOODMAN: China claimed the BBC report was, quote, “wholly without factual basis.”

Meanwhile, The Intercept has obtained a massive police surveillance database used by the Chinese government to monitor residents of Xinjiang. The database confirms China collects millions of text messages, phone contacts and call records, as well as biometric data, from Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Information collected is used to decide who to detain. China has admitted it runs a series of what it calls “free vocational training” centers, but critics have likened them to internment camps.

In January, the outgoing Trump administration accused China of carrying out genocide and halted the importation of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang. President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken has agreed with that assessment.

To talk more about the crackdown in Xinjiang, we’re joined by two guests. Abduweli Ayup is a Uyghur linguist and poet. He was detained for 15 months for running a Uyghur-language kindergarten in Xinjiang. He’s joining us from Bergen in Norway. And joining us from Seattle, Washington, Darren Byler is with us, an anthropologist at the University of Colorado Boulder. He’s the author of two forthcoming books, one on Uyghurs and one on technologies of reeducation in China and around the world.

Darren Byler, if we could begin with you? This massive database that has been unveiled, as China refuses to admit this total surveillance state for the Muslim minority, the Uyghurs, in Xinjiang. Explain what we have learned and how they’re surveilling the population.

DARREN BYLER: Great. It’s an honor to be here.

The database that we’ve uncovered, through the work done at The Intercept, is 52 gigabytes of thousands of internal police documents coming from the city of Ürümqi. They’re dated 2017 to 2019. And what they show us, at a granular level, is the way that Muslim institutions, the mosques, the family structure, is being targeted by a surveillance regime and an accompanying police force. Religious activity has almost ground to a halt completely. In one report, they said 160 elderly people still go to the mosque, but 80,000 others have stopped attending. They also talk about families being visited by government officials and being placed on watchlists, particularly the families of people that have been sent to the camps. And it’s giving us a really granular-level view of communities that have really been torn apart, of people that have been sent to these camps. It ranges from 10% of the population to higher. It’s really devastating material, that’s showing us the extent of the damage, the way that this entire society is being targeted with a program of elimination and some forms of replacement, a kind of colonial regime.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Abduweli Ayup, one of the most disturbing revelations in this BBC report about the torture and sexual abuse of detainees in these internment camps in Xinjiang is that Uyghur detainees themselves, as we just heard in the clip we played — that detainees themselves were forced to play a role in the mass rapes. Now, you were held — you were arrested and held for 15 months between 2013 and 2014. Could you explain what you witnessed and what you were accused of, why you were arrested?

ABDUWELI AYUP: I was arrested because of I had a mother language kindergarten in Kashgar, first, and then our capital city, Ürümqi. And because of my mother language kindergarten, I was arrested and then detained 15 months.

And during that time, first I faced a very incredible situation, very brutal, and it’s rape. And second, it’s disturbing and very devastating, is torture with electric shock and with the humiliation with the denounce of the religion and the denounce of the identity. For example, that like during that time, in the Spring Festival, Chinese Spring Festival, we have to eat the dumpling. At that time, I suspected what is inside, and I asked. And then I asked, “It’s halal or haram, that thing?” And then I was punished. I was chained in seven days.

I think what’s happening there is inhuman, and the target is the Uyghur, and because of their religion and because of their culture. And the government, their mainly purpose is force them to denounce their religion, force them to denounce their language and cultural practice.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Darren, could you talk about the fact that the Chinese government has been accused both of committing cultural genocide but also profiting from the forced labor of Muslim minority communities? Talk about the connection between forced labor connected to Western supply chains and consumers, particularly in Xinjiang’s role of producing over 80% of China’s cotton, and also the region being rich in other natural resources, as you said earlier, including natural gas and oil?

DARREN BYLER: [inaudible] Now, we have to go back to the 1990s and 2000s, which is when China was opening up to the West, was becoming a manufacturer for the world and had a real need to obtain raw materials, like oil, natural gas, cotton and, eventually, tomatoes from this region. And the Uyghur region, which is immense — it’s the size of Alaska — has around 20% of Chinese oil and natural gas. And so, in the ’90s and 2000s, they began to send settlers into the Uyghur-majority areas in the south part of the region to begin to extract those resources.

And so, there, you’re kind of seeing a sort of classic internal colony that’s being used by the nation. But over time, an antagonism really developed between the local population, this Indigenous, native Uyghur population in southern Xinjiang, between them and those settlers, because the settlers began to take over the institutions. The cost of living began to rise. And so, there was protests over land being taken. There was police brutality in response to those protests. And then there was more protests. And it turned into sort of a cycle of violence.

In the 2000s, a rhetoric of terrorism entered the discussion, following 9/11 here in the U.S., and that was then attached to this Uyghur population, because they’re Muslim. Although most of the conflict really had nothing to do with their religious practice — it was about injustice — that’s how it was framed.

Moving forward into the present, as this camp system has been built out as a way of targeting and really transforming the population, who they feel like, in order to integrate them, they need to retrain them, to teach them not to practice Islam and to speak Chinese, that program has now been accompanied by a factory regime, that takes advantage of the industrial-scale agriculture that’s been developed, along with the settlement of southern Xinjiang, and begins to produce textiles for the world. Twenty-five percent or so of cotton comes from China. So it means that it’s very difficult to buy products that don’t have this cotton in them. Sometimes it’s just simply grown in the region, and other times it’s now actually being — the final product is being produced in the region.

The factories themselves are associated with the camps, or, in some cases, they’re nearby the camps. The workers that are sent into these spaces have no choice but to go. If they refuse, they’re labeled extremists and then can be sent to the camps. And so, the threat of camp is really holding people in place, along with all of the surveillance systems that are also monitoring all of their movements.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Byler, you wrote a piece in The Guardian headlined “Why are US companies buying tech from Chinese firms that spy on Muslims?” Can you name the companies that are involved?

DARREN BYLER: I can’t name all of them. There’s around 1,400 firms that are working in Xinjiang to build a kind of digital enclosure system. They’re doing different — they have different tasks within that system. But I’ll name a few.

The largest companies in China, what they call the AI champions, national champions, are deeply invested in this situation. They’re the camera companies, the software companies. Hikvision and Dahua are two of the largest camera manufacturers in the world. And the op-ed you mentioned talks about one of them, how Amazon and IBM were buying these cameras from one of these companies in order to begin to track coronavirus here in the U.S.

Other companies, like SenseTime, Megvii, Yitu, who are sort of these artificial intelligence companies and also now sometimes building cameras, are also involved in this situation. And they’re making component parts of things you might buy, many of them made in China. So, for instance, Megvii is also partnered with a cellphone company to do the face recognition camera or phone access system — you know, how you can scan your face, and then it opens the phone for you.

So, there’s lots of applications that come out of the surveillance systems that are built in Xinjiang and then become these other products in other locations. And so, we have to be really careful, if we want to be ethical consumers, in being sure that the companies we are buying things from are not also participating in this sort of genocidal violence in northwest China.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Abduweli, you are working on writing a memoir of your time in prison. Could you tell us a little bit about that? You know, what is it that you document about your experience in the prisons — what conditions were like there, whether you were able to speak to other prisoners while you were there, and what you witnessed and learned about what had been happening and what continues to happen in these camps?

ABDUWELI AYUP: Yes, I almost finished my book, Prisons Made in China. And because I stayed in a Kashgar detention center, and then in Ürümqi, three different detention centers, so I’m very familiar with those detention center and detention system. And in my book, I talked about what kind of torture in interrogation room. Second is what was happening in the cell. And the third is what’s the torturing methods in the cell and what’s the guards’ method to force prisoners to confess and how the system work in a detention center. And I describe as like a prisoner’s perspective, and I describe it from the beginning to the end, that 15 months.

And especially I focus on the guards and the prisoners’ relationship, and the guards in the interrogation. For example, I can make you one example, that, like, guards there, they help the interrogation, because there’s a competition between the interrogators and the guards. And if the guard get that confess, he will be promoted. If the interrogator get the confess, that one, like, have a promotion more. In that case, two kind of guys are competing to force prisoners to confess. And in my book, I describe this — for example, that, like, prison guards, they use hashish, and they use heroin, and they use sexual abuse to confess, force prisoners confess, to tell what they want, because in detention system, the guards and the interrogators, they’re mainly focused on confession, because they want the people who are living there to tell that “We are criminals. We are sick. And we are problem makers.” They want that answer. They don’t want any detail. They want — yes, they force the people to answer the question yes or no. The story is already made up. Only the, like, game is playing there is yes or no.

AMY GOODMAN: Abduweli, if you can tell us how you ultimately left Xinjiang, how you got out of the country — we’re talking to you in Norway now — what has happened to your family, and how they use cellphones, integral to monitoring everything people do, gathering information from those phones, requiring that you have them?

ABDUWELI AYUP: Yes. After I was released from the camp, I faced a big problem that I have to keep my cellphone on, 24 hours. And if I visit my friend, and because we are together and I was already blacklisted, and my friend become blacklisted person. In that case, my friend was in danger. So, I lived in that surveillance system, and it’s not possible to me to live further. That’s why I faced escape. I escaped the country because of this, because of the surveillance.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: An, Abduweli, in addition to the surveillance that’s carried out on Uyghurs in China, there have been reports that the Chinese government is also tracking Uyghurs living outside. Are you concerned about your own safety? And do you still have family in Xinjiang or anywhere else in China?

ABDUWELI AYUP: Yes, yes. Still, we are in the free world, but we are under the pressure. For example, I went to Chinese Embassy in 2016 September. At the time, the Chinese Embassy in Ankara asked me to add WeChat, to download WeChat and add them. After that, the Chinese state security in Ürümqi called me immediately: “We are here watching you. And what are you doing and what are you working on, we know clearly. So you should listen to us. We’ll reach you wherever you are.” It’s a psychological pressure. It’s only me. Like, I’m living in Bergen right now. And I know we have around 200 Uyghurs are, and about 20 Uyghurs called by Chinese Embassy in Oslo. So, we are in the free world, but we are under pressure right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Abduweli Ayup, we want to thank you so much for joining us on Democracy Now!, telling your own life experience, Uyghur linguist who set up a kindergarten and ultimately was imprisoned for 15 months, also a poet. Thanks so much for being with us, Darren Byler, anthropologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, speaking to us from Seattle, Washington.

And that does it for our broadcast. A very Happy Birthday to Hugh Gran! Democracy Now! is produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Libby Rainey, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Carla Wills, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Adriano Contreras. Our general manager is Julie Crosby. Special thanks to Becca Staley, Miriam Barnard, Paul Powell, Mike Di Filippo, Miguel Nogueira, Hugh Gran, Denis Moynihan, David Prude and Dennis McCormick. Please stay safe. Wear a mask. Wear two. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

Australia: Combat Forced Labor of China’s Uyghurs

Australia: Combat Forced Labor of China’s Uyghurs

Strengthen Legislation to Allow Suspension of Xinjiang Imports

People work amidst massive piles of cotton in China's Xinjiang province. Click to expand Image
Workers amidst massive piles of cotton in China’s Xinjiang province.  © 2015 Imaginechina via AP Images

(Sydney) – The Australian government should strengthen legislation to suspend the import of goods made with forced labor, Human Rights Watch said today in a submission to Australia’s Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee. Australia needs to adopt urgent measures to address China’s alleged use of forced labor of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities from the Xinjiang region.

“There are credible complaints of forced labor of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities from Xinjiang supported by accounts from former detainees, satellite imagery, and leaked Chinese government documents,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch. “Australia should join other countries to authorize the suspension of imported goods made with forced labor from Xinjiang and elsewhere.”

 Submission to the Inquiry into Banning Goods Produced by Uyghur Forced LaborSubmission to the Inquiry into Banning Goods Produced by Uyghur Forced Labor  

The parliamentary committee is examining the Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced By Uyghur Forced Labour) Bill 2020, proposed by Senator Rex Patrick. The Australian government should designate Xinjiang a region where forced labor risks are high, and introduce a presumption of forced labor in cases of imports of finished goods from Xinjiang or imports of goods made with inputs from Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch, a member of the Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region, also urged the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to convene discussions with Australian businesses and nongovernmental organizations to raise awareness about the risks of doing business in Xinjiang and encourage companies to join the “End Uyghur Forced Labour Call to Action.”

Recently, the United States strengthened its import control measures, banning all cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang, since there is a high risk that these products are made with forced labor. Pending US legislation would introduce a rebuttable presumption requiring importers to prove that any goods imported from that region come from supply chains free of forced labor. In January 2021, the United Kingdom and Canada made coordinated announcements to help prevent their respective businesses from being complicit in, or profiting from, human rights violations in the Xinjiang region.

Human Rights Watch also said that Australia should overhaul the Modern Slavery Act 2018, supplementing or significantly amending it to introduce a broad sweep of measures, similar to proposals that Human Rights Watch and other rights groups are advocating in the European Union. Australia currently does not make it mandatory for businesses operating in the country to undertake human rights and environmental due diligence in their own operations and their global value chains.

“Australia’s Modern Slavery Act falls short in protecting basic rights,” Pearson said. “The Morrison government needs to overhaul it and ensure that businesses operating in Australia are complying with human rights and environmental standards in their own operations and in their global value chains.”

Andrew Forrest’s philanthropic foundation condemns China’s treatment of Uighurs

Andrew Forrest’s philanthropic foundation condemns China’s treatment of Uighurs

Australian billionaire previously called out for not criticising abuse despite Minderoo Foundation campaigning against slavery

Andrew ForrestAndrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation and its Walk Free anti-slavery campaign has issued a public condemnation of China’s treatment of the Uighur minority. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters 


Andrew Forrest’s philanthropic arm has publicly condemned the “forced labour and human rights abuses against the Uighur population”, as Human Rights Watch made a rare call for Australia to adopt targeted measures against China to halt imports linked to forced labour.

Forrest has previously been criticised for his refusal to condemn Beijing’s treatment of the Uighur minority despite funding a highly public campaign against modern-day slavery and forced labour.

His Fortescue Metals Group derives huge profits from Chinese demand which has underpinned recent increases to iron ore prices. It’s helped Fortescue secure a $1.2bn net profit in December alone.

Last year, Uighur community leaders told Crikey that Forrest was at a “crossroads” on the issue and needed to “decide whether he takes a moral and ethical stand on this and on what he supposedly stands for”.

 MPs urge British Olympians to boycott 2022 Beijing Winter GamesRead more

On Monday, in a submission on senator Rex Patrick’s bill to ban imports linked to Uighur forced labour, Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation and its Walk Free anti-slavery campaign issued a public condemnation of China’s treatment of the Uighur minority.


The submission called on Australia to block the import of goods “made with forced labour in China”.

“Walk Free acknowledges and condemns forced labour and human rights abuses against the Uighur population and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region,” the submission states. “Action to prevent the importation of goods made with forced labour in China would support Australia in meeting its international obligations to prevent modern slavery.”

The submission, though, goes on to argue that the use of forced labour is not limited only to China. It recommends a change of wording to Patrick’s bill to ban imports from all countries with forced labour, not just China.

That approach mirrors one recommended by Human Rights Watch.

Rory Medcalf, the head of the Australian National University’s National Security College, described the submission as a “welcome development”.

“I look forward to seeing it reflected in Andrew Forrest’s personal characterisation of the behaviour of the Chinese state,” he told Guardian Australia.

Forrest courted controversy last year by inviting China’s Victorian consul general, Long Zhou, to a press conference on Covid-19 testing with the federal health minister, Greg Hunt. He has consistently heaped praise on China for its response and assistance to Australia.

 The strange case of Australia’s 10m Covid-19 tests: how Andrew Forrest’s coup fell flatRead more

The scale of the forced labour problem in Xinjiang has been proven time and again. Last year, the Center for Global Policy released research suggesting half a million people from ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang have been coerced into picking cotton.

That report came after the Australian Strategic Policy Institute identified a series of factories linked to a program of forced labour involving 80,000 Uighurs in Xinjiang, some of whom were shipped far from their homes to factories across China between 2017 and 2019.

That report allowed the Guardian to establish that face masks manufactured at a Chinese factory using allegedly coerced Uighur labour were being sold in Australia.

In 2019, the ABC revealed that six Australian brands – Target, Cotton On, Jeanswest, Dangerfield, Ikea and H&M – sourced cotton from Xinjiang.

Cotton On and Target subsequently changed their supply chains due to human rights concerns, while Jeanswest conducted an internal inquiry and said it found no evidence of cotton from Xinjiang. Ikea and Dangerfield said they did source cotton from Xinjiang but were not aware of any forced labour.

Despite the mounting evidence, Australia remains a laggard on the issue.

The United States has banned all cotton and tomato imports from Xinjiang, given the high risk of forced labour, and is contemplating introducing a requirement that other importers working in the region prove their goods are free of forced labour.

The United Kingdom and Canada took coordinated steps last month to help their businesses avoid complicity in Xinjiang abuses.

In its submission on the Patrick bill, Human Rights Watch urged Australia to take targeted steps against China to stop the import of goods linked to Xinjiang forced labour.

The group wants Australia to designate Xinjiang as an area of high risk for forced labour. Human Rights Watch says Australia should follow the US and introduce a presumption that all goods from Xinjiang are tainted by forced labour and shift the onus to importers to prove their supply chains are slavery-free.

Human Rights Watch also wants the language in Patrick’s bill to be changed to ban all goods associated with forced labour from import, not just China.

Human Rights Watch researcher Sophie McNeill said the Australian government’s rhetoric on the situation in Xinjiang is, so far at least, not matched by concrete steps on the issue of forced labour.

“This isn’t being talked about enough,” McNeill told the Guardian. “We’re seeing steps being taken by the US, the UK, and Canada. There’s a lot of talk about China and Australia, but not enough action to take concrete measures that could stop our businesses being complicit in, and profiting from, human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.”

Patrick told the Guardian he understands the positions of Human Rights Watch and Walk Free but said the wording change they sought would make it more difficult to pass the bill through parliament.

“Perfect can be the enemy of the good,” he said.

“There is a wave of support building, not just in Australia but around the world, in relation to the Uighurs’ plight, and I think this wave of support that gives this bill some chance of getting through the parliament.”

Biden: China should expect `extreme competition’ from US

Biden: China should expect `extreme competition’ from US

Associated Press
FILE – In this Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, shakes hands with then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden as they pose for photos at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo/Lintao Zhang, Pool, File)


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden says China is in for “extreme competition” from the U.S. under his administration, but that the new relationship he wants to forge need not be one of conflict.

In an interview broadcast Sunday, Biden acknowledged that he has yet to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping since his inauguration Jan. 20, but noted that the two leaders had met many times when both men served their countries as vice president.

“I know him pretty well,” Biden said in an excerpt of the interview aired Sunday by CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

When they do speak, they will have “a whole lot to talk about,” Biden said.

Biden appears to be concentrating his initial telephone diplomacy on U.S. allies. He so far has spoken with the leaders of Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the NATO secretary-general.

He also worked in a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the interview, Biden described Xi as “very bright” and “very tough” but without “a democratic, small D, bone in his body.”

Shortly after Biden succeeded President Donald Trump in the White House, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said that “after this very difficult and extraordinary time, both the Chinese and American people deserve a better future.” Beijing welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to remain in the World Health Organization and return to the Paris climate agreement.

The new administration, however, is unlikely to significantly alter U.S. policies on trade, Taiwan, human rights and the South China Sea that have angered Xi’s increasingly assertive government.

Biden, in the interview taped Friday, said he has said to Xi “ all along, that we need not have a conflict.” But, Biden added, there will be “extreme competition. And I’m not going to do it the way that he knows. And that’s because he’s sending signals as well.”

Biden said he will not pursue U.S.-China relations in the way that Trump did but will focus on “international rules of the road.”

Secretary of State Blinken told Beijing to stop undermining “the rules-based international system.”

Secretary of State Blinken told Beijing to stop undermining “the rules-based international system.”

Blinken took a hardline against human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong.

Blinken’s Beijing counterpart said: “Let’s each manage our own business.”

Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday used his first phone call with his Beijing counterpart to push for an end to China’s “abuses” of the international system.

“In my call with my counterpart in Beijing, Yang Jiechi, I made clear the U.S. will defend our national interests, stand up for our democratic values, and hold Beijing accountable for its abuses of the international system,” Blinken wrote on his official Twitter account.

Yang in turn asked for “no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation,” according to CGTN, a state-affiliated news source in China. Yang said: “Let’s each manage our own business.”

In a Thursday speech, President Joe Biden called China “our most serious competitor.”

Read more: Biden’s China policy is about to be just as assertive as Trump’s, but much more effective

He said: “We’ll confront China’s economic abuses; counter its aggressive, coercive action; to push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property, and global governance.”

Biden said the US would work with Beijing in areas where the country’s interests were aligned.

In late January, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned about the consequences of a “new cold war” between the two countries.

Blinken on Friday pressed China on human rights abuses, including those in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, according to the official readout of the call from spokesperson Ned Price. Blinken also called on China to condemn the military coup in Myanmar.

Blinken called for China to end “its undermining of the rules-based international system,” according to Price.

US-China relations under President Donald Trump had been mostly acrimonious. The day after Biden took office in January, China announced sanctions against members of Trump’s administration, including Mike Pompeo, Blinken’s predecessor.

Pompeo was banned from entering mainland China, along with its Macau and Hong Kong administrative districts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

“They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China,” it said in a statement.

Speaking on Fox Business on February 4, Pompeo said those sanctions were a clear warning to the new administration. If Biden’s administration sticks up for US business interests, it’ll clash with China, Pompeo said.

Pompeo said: “And so they were trying to send a message to the current secretary of state, the national security adviser, saying ‘careful, don’t do the right thing for America, don’t protect Americans, if you do you will personally be punished.'”

Read the original article on Business Insider

New York: Interview with Mr. Yadigar Ganiyev, Information Minister of East Turkistan Government in Exile

New York: Interview with Mr. Yadigar Ganiyev, Information Minister of East Turkistan Government in Exile


Demonstrations in front of the UN building, rallies in the city streets, “China is cheating, people are dying in the world,” “The Communist Party is a bad party,” “Awake, people of the world!” under the slogan Among the organizers are Uighurs in New York and Kazakh activists.

MPs urge British Olympians to boycott 2022 Beijing Winter Games

MPs urge British Olympians to boycott 2022 Beijing Winter Games

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey and Labour MP Chris Bryant urge officials and athletes to protest against oppression of Uighur communities

A display at the exhibition centre for the 2022 winter Games in BeijingA display at the exhibition centre for the 2022 winter Games in Beijing. There have been reports of systematic rape and torture of Uighurs in Xinjiang province. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images 

Senior political figures have called for British athletes to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing in response to widespread human rights abuses in China.

Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Labour MP Chris Bryant, a member of the foreign affairs select committee and a former junior foreign minister, said the government and the British Olympic Association should act.

“The evidence that a genocide is now occurring in western China is so clear that the UK and the whole world must now stand up to Beijing and use every available tool to stop it,” Davey said.

The BBC reported last week that ethnic Uighur women and other Muslims in the western province of Xinjiang were being systematically raped and tortured. The former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said before leaving office last month that China was committing ongoing genocide against the Uighurs, a statement backed by the Biden administration.

The UN Genocide Convention lists removing children, preventing births, killing members of a group, seriously harming them or putting them in conditions calculated to destroy them as evidence of genocide.

Bryant said: “All five categories of genocide behaviour, according to the Genocide Convention, are already in play in Xinjiang province. So I think it’s just extraordinary that the British government seems to have no backbone about it.

“I just can’t see why anybody would want to go to the Winter Olympics in Beijing. And I think the British Olympic Association should be calling for the Winter Olympics to move, and if it doesn’t move, then we should be boycotting it.”

Ed Davey standing to speak in a socially distanced House of Commons.
Ed Davey: ‘Team GB, ParalympicsGB and the government have a moral responsibility to consider if sending a team to these Games is really the right thing to do.’ Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA

Davey said the UK had allowed its sports stars to be used for propaganda in the past, such as when the England football team was instructed to give a Nazi salute in 1935.

“No doubt we will hear teams, sponsors and governing bodies say the Olympics and Paralympics should be separate from politics and that they are just concentrating on sport. But in the face of genocide, that just isn’t good enough,” Davey said.

“The 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will be used as a propaganda tool for a regime committing genocide. Team GB, ParalympicsGB and the government have a moral responsibility to consider if sending a team to these Games is really the right thing to do.”

He said that unless the Chinese government ordered the closure of detention camps in Xinjiang, ended Uighur forced labour and ethnic cleansing, stopped sterilising Uighur women and stopped the torture and rape of Uighurs, then Team GB, ParalympicsGB and ministers should announce a boycott. “Our brightest and best athletes should not be forced to be part of a propaganda exercise for the Chinese Communist party while it tries to wipe the Uighur people off the face of the planet.”

Last week, a group of 180 human rights groups called for a boycott, saying that the International Olympic Committee’s hope that awarding China the Games in 2015 would spark progress had been wrong.

China’s human rights record worsened after the 2008 Beijing summer Games because the country’s leadership became “emboldened”, the group said.

Fewer athletes participate in the Winter Olympics than during the summer Games and a greater proportion come from richer countries.

Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, told the foreign affairs select committee last October that a UK boycott of the Games was possible. The former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has also called for a boycott.

China has denied there are any abuses in Xinjiang.

Sir Hugh Robertson, the chairman of the British Olympic Committee, said last year that Olympic boycotts did not work and only harmed the athletes who could not take part. British runners Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett won gold medals at the 1980 Moscow Games after defying a government boycott.

The Ghulja Massacre of 1997 and the Face of Uyghur Genocide Today

The Ghulja Massacre of 1997 and the Face of Uyghur Genocide Today

24 years ago, a brutal crackdown on Uyghur protesters changed one family’s lives forever. Incredibly, things have only gotten worse for the Uyghurs since then.

By Zubayra ShamsedenFebruary 05, 2021

The Ghulja Massacre of 1997 and the Face of Uyghur Genocide Today
Saliha (right) and Abdurazzak Shamseden, the author’s brother, who was detained in 1998 and subsequently handed a life sentence for “splittism.”

Credit: Family-provided photo

Every time I see the deep, round scars on her wrists and arms, I think of the blood flowing out of the holes that made them, dripping onto the floor of that grim torture room in the Ghulja city police station, as she is tortured to confess to crimes that do not exist. She is Saliha, my sister, one of thousands of youths in Ghulja whose lives turned into a nightmare after the Ghulja massacre.

On February 5, 1997, now 24 years ago, Uyghur demonstrators in Ghulja took part in a non-violent protest calling for an end to religious repression and ethnic discrimination in the city. After violently suppressing the demonstration, Chinese authorities arbitrarily detained large numbers of Uyghurs. Human rights organizations documented a pattern of torture in detention and unfair trials of detained Uyghurs. For their alleged role in the events, several Uyghur participants were executed.

Eight months after the massacre, the hunt for Uyghur youths with any connections to the February protest was still in effect. In October 1997, my sister Saliha, only 23 years old at the time, my niece Saide, 20, and a few other girls were coming home from a wedding in nearby Nilka, still resplendent in wedding finery and boisterous with laughter and jokes. The joy was not to last; for my sister, a nightmare spanning decades was about to begin. Five fully armed policemen burst into our home to arrest these girls. My father asked them to allow Saliha to rest for a moment at least, but to no avail. The policemen shackled her, forced her into a police car, and drove away as if she were wanted for murder. My mother fainted, my father stood motionless, and the rest of the family sunk into a horrified chaos, helpless.

They arrived at the Ghulja city police station, about six kilometers from Kepekyuz, where Saliha resided. She was ripped from the car and pushed into an interrogation room on the second floor of the police station. The questions began politely: Do you know Tursun Seley and his wife? Did you help his wife? Have you hidden her? We knew that you are friends.

Saliha answered firmly: No. I don’t know them; I didn’t see them; I don’t have any connections with them.

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Their tone and interrogation methods intensified, and the policemen became impatient. First, they hit Saliha with a large club, starting from her back then all over her body. The most painful hit was to the back of her ears; her earrings broke into pieces, the stones thrown out of their sockets and clicking against cement. She didn’t know for how long the questioning and beatings continued. As time went by with no results, they handcuffed her with shackles that had nails protruding from the inside. When the policemen pressed against the sides of the handcuffs, the nails dug into her skin and blood gushed out of her wrists. Slowly, she started losing feeling. The policemen continued squeezing blood from her, but again with no results. Soon, they brought out heavy leg shackles and bound her legs, then moved her to a corner between the first and second floor stairway. There, they attached her nail-handcuffs to a pipe that ran across the wall. Chinese police personnel who walked by would see her standing there, bleeding. It was evening, but it was impossible to sleep despite the pain and fatigue; she could hear the horrific screams of people coming out from similar “interrogation rooms.” To her, the whole building was a dark and deathly torture chamber.

She spent one month there, and to this day has not described everything that happened to her. She was released after a Chinese police chief was given a sizable bribe. We signed an agreement that Saliha was to stay within a six-kilometer radius of her house and be mindful that she was under watch 24/7. In effect, she was under house arrest.

In July 1998, I went to Ghulja from my new home in Australia. It was three months after my nephew Hemmat Muhammat was killed by Chinese forces and nine months after Saliha’s release from detention. The purpose of the trip was to mourn for Hemmat’s death, but what I witnessed and experienced there was much worse. The most devastating experience for me was realizing my sister Saliha had changed drastically. The hilarious, radiant girl who loved to sing and dance and express herself was silent, muted. She had lost all faith in humanity. The same thing happened to my niece Saide. It happened to Patime, who was a friend of Saliha’s, my cousin Abdumennan, and so many others in our neighborhood who had been detained. Something inside them had broken after going through those brutal detentions. It seemed clear to everyone: We had to leave this place if possible and help the people here from abroad.

I left Ghulja in August of 1998. I tried my best to bring over any of my relatives. Saliha came to Australia in September 1999. It took her over 20 years to recount some of the horrific experiences inside China’s brutal torture chambers. That was one month of torture and questioning. Saliha misses our homeland and her childhood, but recoils at the idea of going back. The dark chamber continues to haunt her.

When Saliha and I heard our other sister Mesture and her family were sent to concentration camps in Ghulja in 2016, we were horrified; Saliha in particular became ill upon hearing the news. The terms “taken away,” “arrested,” or “detained” all equate to termination for us.

China is doing its best to prevent the world from seeing the Uyghur genocide and claim Uyghurs abroad are “lying.” Credible accounts from survivors are “fake news” and even a “Western conspiracy.” China claims that America is “jealous” of China’s rise as a world leader, so the United States is using the Uyghur genocide card to “wage war” against China. Sure, America may not wish to be replaced in its role on the international stage, but this argument does nothing to disprove China’s brutal genocide of the people it claims to be its own citizens.

We may not be seeing Uyghurs locked into gas chambers and gassed to death, or killed with weapons of mass destruction, but we are witnessing people being tortured, brainwashed, locked up by the millions, held as slaves, or having their organs harvested. Women are being raped and forced into unwanted marriages, or sterilized by force and used for experimentation in Chinese medical laboratories. In this century, these cruelties should not be a precursor to a government becoming more powerful on the world stage, no matter what sort of economic and political “benefits” China offers the world as a result. There is no acceptable condition where world actors can turn a blind eye to genocide.

Twenty-four years after the Ghulja massacre, there has been no accountability for the atrocities committed that day or the months after. In fact, China continues to hunt down every Uyghur who had a connection to that youth movement from the ‘90s and is punishing them by sending them to concentration camps. The survivors of the Ghulja massacre, the July 5, 2009 Urumqi protest, and the state violence of Alaqagha (May 2014), Hanerik (June 2013), Seriqbuya (April 2013), and Elishku (July 2014) make up a part of the millions of people detained in Chinese concentration camps since 2016. These and countless other unreported instances of oppression serve as testimony to the fact that, step by step, China will systematically erode our people from the earth, mentally, spiritually, culturally, and physically.

I had tears of satisfaction in my eyes when I heard the United States had recognized the genocide of the Uyghurs. It has given some hope to women who have suffered, like Saliha, and a will to keep fighting for the rights that have been taken away from us for so long. If the world ignores what China is doing in East Turkestan, we are giving tacit approval to genocidal governments and may witness the same atrocities elsewhere. It is time to urge other governments to join the U.S. and recognize the genocide of the Uyghurs. In particular, those brave women who survived China’s atrocities – like Saliha, Mihrigul TursunTursinay ZiyawdunGulbahar JelilovaGulbahar HatiwajiZumret DawutRukiya PerhatSayragul SautbayKalbinur Sidik, and many more unknown Uyghur and Kazakh women – need to be supported and believed. Their stories are weapons in the struggle against state brutality. By listening to them, we have the power to stop the atrocities in East Turkestan and everywhere else in the world.

Zubayra Shamseden is Chinese Outreach Coordinator at the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), a documentation and advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

China protests against US Navy destroyer entering South China Sea waters

China protests against US Navy destroyer entering South China Sea waters

South China Morning Post

Liu Zhen

·3 min read  

China on Friday protested against a United States destroyer entering into disputed South China Sea waters.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain on Friday carried out a freedom of navigation operation in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, after a sail-through of the Taiwan Strait on Thursday with Chinese warships following the transit.

It was the first such operation under the presidency of Joe Biden.

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The US warship had entered within the 12 nautical miles of the island’s territorial water without permission, so the Chinese navy and air force tracked and monitored it near the Paracels and “drove it away after warning”, the Southern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said on Friday.

The flight deck aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain. Photo: US Navy 7th Fleet alt=The flight deck aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain. Photo: US Navy 7th Fleet

This group of islands in northwest of South China Sea are claimed by Beijing, Taipei and Hanoi, and controlled by the PLA since 1970s.

A spokesman for the PLA Southern Theater Command accused the US side of both infringing on China’s sovereignty and security and disinforming the public in its later statement.

“This act of the US military is its usual tactic of ‘mixed manipulation’ combined of navigational hegemony and misleading public opinion,” said spokesman Tian Junli, Air Force Senior Colonel. “Troops of the Southern Theater Command are always on high alert to resolutely defend national sovereignty and security and peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

The USS McCain’s operation on Friday was an “innocent passage” consistent with international law and the requirement for permission or advance notification by claimants was “unlawful” restriction, the US Navy 7th Fleet announced in a statement.

“The United States challenges excessive maritime claims around the world regardless of the identity of the claimant,” said the US Navy’s statement.

It further said the act also challenged China’s straight territorial sea baselines encompassing the island group as a whole, which covers more internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf than drawing baselines 12 nautical miles outside each individual island.

“By conducting this operation, the United States demonstrated that these waters are beyond what China can lawfully claim as its territorial sea, and that China’s claimed straight baselines around the Paracel Islands are inconsistent with international law,” the statement said.

The US Navy had frequently conducted similar freedom of navigation operations near Chinese-controlled islands and reefs in the South China Sea since 2015.

A day earlier, the warship home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan transited through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, which is considered another possible flashpoint for armed conflict between the US and China besides the South China Sea.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2021 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

A US Navy destroyer challenged China’s sweeping South China Sea claims a day after sailing past Taiwan

A US Navy destroyer challenged China’s sweeping South China Sea claims a day after sailing past Taiwan

Ryan Pickrell 

Feb 5, 2021, 9:21 AM

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56)
The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain. 
US Navy
  • The US Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain on Friday challenged China’s claims in the South China Sea.
  • The move, which frustrated Beijing, followed a Taiwan Strait transit by the McCain on Thursday.
  • Biden said on Thursday the US would confront China’s “coercive” and “aggressive” actions.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A US warship sailed on Friday near Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea, challenging Beijing’s sweeping territorial claims for the first time under the Biden administration.

The Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands during a routine freedom-of-navigation operation (FONOP) to “assert navigational rights and freedoms,” Lt. Joe Keiley, a 7th Fleet spokesman, said in a statement Friday.

The Paracels are controlled by China, which has built military outposts on the islands to reinforce its contested sovereignty claims. The islands are also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

Each of the three claimant parties has, the 7th Fleet said, imposed “unlawful restrictions on innocent passage” by requiring peaceful foreign military vessels to provide advance notice and seek permission before sailing through the territorial waters.

In addition to pressing the three countries on these restrictions, Friday’s operation specifically challenged China’s claim to straight baselines enclosing the Paracels.

“With these baselines, China has attempted to claim more internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf than it is entitled to under international law,” Keiley said.

He said: “Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the sea, including freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations.”

China’s military expressed frustration with the FONOP and said naval and air assets were deployed to drive away the US destroyer, Reuters reported.

The McCain’s activities near the Paracels come just one day after the warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait, an international waterway where China unlawfully expects foreign ships to seek permission before transiting the area.

By transiting the Taiwan Strait, the warship demonstrated “the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the 7th Fleet said in a statement, adding that the “United States military will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

The routine transits, like the FONOPs, are conducted in accordance with international law, but China bristles at the presence of US military assets near what it perceives as sensitive national interests.

“China will continue to stay on high alert and is ready to respond to all threats and provocations at any time, and will resolutely safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang Wenbin, a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said in response Thursday.

“We hope the US side will play a constructive role for regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite,” he added.

Just days into the new Biden administration, the Chinese military sent fighters and bombers flying past Taiwan in a show of force. The military aircraft then conducted a simulated attack run on a US Navy aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.

The US State Department condemned China’s economic, diplomatic, and military pressure campaign against Taiwan, and the US military criticized China’s “aggressive and destabilizing” behavior.

President Joe Biden signaled in a foreign-policy address on Thursday that confrontation is expected to continue as the US pushes back on what it considers malign Chinese activity.

The US will “take on directly the challenges posed by our prosperity, security, and democratic values by our most serious competitor, China,” Biden said.

“We’ll confront China’s economic abuses, counter its aggressive, coercive action to push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property, and global governance,” he added.

The president said the US remained “ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so.”