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China tightens grip on Xinjiang region: Report

Beijing gathers massive amounts of personal data on Uighur population using advanced technology, German weekly claims

Ayhan Şimşek   | 02.08.2018
China tightens grip on Xinjiang region: Report



China is using advanced surveillance technology to “oppress” Uighur population in the autonomous Xinjiang region, German weekly Der Spiegel said in a report.  

“Nowhere in the world, not even in North Korea, is the population monitored as strictly as it is in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” Der Spiegel reporter claimed, following a trip to the region, which is home to 10 million Uighurs.  

Not only in the capital Urumqi but also in the most remote mountain villages, cameras were installed to monitor people, and Chinese authorities were using various other tools such as iris scanners and Wi-Fi sniffers to collect massive data on Uighur population, the weekly said.  

The Turkic Muslim group which makes up around 45 percent of the population of Xinjiang, has long accused China’s authorities for cultural, religious and economic discrimination. 

 According to Der Spiegel’s report, Chinese authorities have started to use most modern technologies in recent years to consolidate their control of Uighur population. 

A massive data on Uighurs, including their contacts, consumer habits, banking activity, health status and even DNA profiles have been gathered, stored and analyzed by an "integrated joint operations platform,” the weekly claimed.  

Many people disappeared since the massive surveillance has started and some of them were sent to “re-education camps”, according to the German magazine.  

Their numbers were estimated to be close to hundreds of thousands, according to Xinjiang expert Adrian Zenz.  

Having numerous conversations with Xinjiang’s inhabitants during their trip to the region, Der Spiegel’s reporter said people there were under growing repression.  

“Xinjiang, one of the most remote and backward regions in booming China, has become a real-life dystopia. It provides a glimpse of what an authoritarian regime armed with 21st century technology is capable of,” he said.

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