See More on Facebook

Analysis, Politics

China defends and legalizes its internment camp for Uighurs

China amended laws to ‘legitimise’ crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang, say experts.


Written by

Updated: October 17, 2018

China’s western Xinjiang region has amended its laws to legitimise the detention of Uighurs, in a move that experts say is a response to the harsh foreign criticism of Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on the predominantly Muslim minority.

The United Nations said in an August report that up to one million Uighurs are being detained in “re-education camps”. This has led US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, more recently, US Vice-President Mike Pence to denounce China’s treatment of Uighurs.

“Survivors of the camps have described their experiences as a deliberate attempt by Beijing to strangle Uighur culture and stamp out the Muslim faith,” Mr Pence said in a speech last week.

Beijing blames Uighur separatist groups for violent attacks in the region and have said that these groups have terror links.

The amended laws, which were passed on Tuesday (Oct 9), encourage local governments to combat extremism by establishing “vocational education centres” for the “educational transformation” of those influenced by extremism.

These centres will also teach the Chinese language, laws and regulations, in addition to vocational skills training.

The Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims who make up about half of Xinjiang’s 22 million-strong population.

Mr Dolkun Isa, chairman of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, said the latest move was meant to “legalise” China’s ongoing crackdown so as to deflect international pressure.

“They just want to show the international community that everything they are doing is according to the law,” said Mr Isa.

But the amendments have drawn criticism. Ms Maya Wang, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said they served only to add “a veneer of legality” to what the Chinese government was doing in Xinjiang.

Survivors of the camps have said they faced immense psychological pressure, and had to disavow their beliefs, eat pork and drink alcohol.

A US Congressional report released on Wednesday (Oct 10) warned of a “dire human rights situation” over the mass internment of Uighurs and other minorities, adding that it could represent the biggest imprisonment of an ethnic minority since World War II, and constitute crimes against humanity.

In August, China told a UN committee that claims of mass imprisonment were untrue and that Xinjiang’s citizens enjoyed equal freedoms and rights. Those sent to vocational educational and employment training centres were criminals convicted of minor offences, it said.

On Thursday (Oct 11), Mr Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of state-run tabloid Global Times, said in a Twitter post that the change was “in line with the spirit of law… and fits the reality of Xinjiang.”

“The tumultuous situation there has been brought under control, many lives being saved and peace/stability recovered. This is the greatest of all human rights,” he added.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters at a regular press briefing on Thursday that the measures taken in Xinjiang to prevent and combat terrorism and extremism have “helped maintain social stability in Xinjiang, and safeguarded the livelihood of people of all ethnic groups”.

But experts say the amendments are a sign that Beijing could intensify its crackdown.

Dr Adrian Zenz, a specialist on Xinjiang at the European School of Culture and Theology in Germany, said: “Overall, this clearly strengthens the legal basis for the type of re-education that has essentially been admitted by the state, indicating that it is determined to proceed with the current campaign.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Politics

Communist Party of China calls for efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up

Political Bureau stresses importance of winning three critical battles in 2020. The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee called on Friday for solid efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up, amid tensions in the external environment, to ensure that the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be attained next year. The general trend of China’s economy in maintaining stable and long-term positive operation remains unchanged, according to a statement released after the bureau’s meeting, presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. China will keep its economic growth within a reasonable range in 2020, with more “forwarding-looking, targeted and effective” policies, the statement said. The nation will pursue a policy framework that allows macro policies to be stable, micro policies


By China Daily
December 9, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Is polarisation driven by Hyper Information Disorder Syndrome?

In a study of Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Poland, Turkey and the US, writes ANDREW SHENG, scientists attribute populism to the rise of decisive leaders who push nationalism, demonise opponents and stir up issues that further divide societies. BANGKOK – Mass protests seem to be breaking out all over the place, from Hong Kong to Santiago, Tehran, Bolivia, Catalonia, Ecuador, France and Iraq to Lebanon.  The root causes of these protests have many local reasons, but there are common themes, such as inequality, corruption, incompetent governments, rural-urban migration, demography, anger, social media and demand for change. But underlying all these protests is the growing polarization of societies, increasingly manifested in viol


By Asia News Network
December 9, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Rohingya Crisis Fallout

Transparency International Bangladesh has painted a grim outlook for the crisis. Bangladesh faces long-term financial, political and security challenges as Rohingya repatriation may not happen anytime soon, said Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman. The fund from the international community for nearly one million Rohingyas may not sustain as no strong international initiative has been taken to oblige Myanmar for creating a conducive environment for the refugees to return soon, he said. “As a result, Bangladesh’s socio-economic instability will grow. There are risks of security at local and national levels. The crisis also creates political and diplomatic challenges for the government,” Iftekharuzzaman said. It also involves the risks of growing extremism as the people who face violence are more likely to become violent, he said at a press confere


By Daily Star
December 6, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Pyongyang to hold party meeting ahead of year-end deadline

Kim Jong-un rides up Paektusan again, highlights self-reliance and revolutionary spirit. North Korea will hold a plenary meeting around the end of December to decide on “crucial issues,” its state-run news agency said Wednesday. On the same day, the Korean Central News Agency reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rode up Paektusan on a white horse accompanied by military commanders, raising speculation that the communist regime may take more provocative military actions as the year-end deadline it set for denuclearization talks with the US quickly approaches. North Korea’s Workers’ Party of Korea announced Tuesday that the 5th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the WPK would convene around the end of December, Korea Central News Agency reported, “in order to discuss and decide on crucial issues in line with the needs of the development of the Korean revolution and the chan


By The Korea Herald
December 5, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Najib to take the stand today

The former premier is accused of malfeasance. Today is the day that Malaysians will see, for the first in the country’s history, a former prime minister take the stand to answer charges against him in a court of law. Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pic), 66, will testify from the witness box as the first defence witness to rebut his seven charges of misappropriating RM42mil in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. According to his co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh, Najib will be called as the first witness on the opening day of the defence’s proceedings. Najib will be first questioned by his defence during examination-in-chief before being cross-examined by the prosecution. On Nov 11, Justice Mohd Nazlan ordered Najib to enter his defence on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three charges of money laundering and on


By The Star
December 3, 2019

Analysis, Politics

New parties face drubbing in by-elections as Nepalis continue to vote along party lines

“They failed to convince the voters as to what they would bring to the table if they were given a chance”. Nepalis once again displayed traditional voting patterns as they continued to choose the established parties—Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress—while casting their ballots in Saturday’s by-election, as they snubbed newer parties like Sajha and Bibeksheel. Despite their untiring efforts, focussing primarily on Kaski Constituency-2 in a bid to get a seat in the federal Parliament, both Sajha and Bibeksheel, cut no ice with voters. Both parties have had to fight hard to even secure their deposits, as candidates must garner at least 10 percent of the total votes cast to get back their deposit; a failure to do so is considered humiliating. By-elections were held on Saturday for 52 positions, including a vacant seat in the House of Representatives, three provincial assembly seats


By The Kathmandu Post
December 2, 2019