With technology and an iron fist, China has turned the Western region into a surveillance state like no other.

Inside the Xinjiang city on coronavirus lockdown
Once an oasis along the northern silk road, the ancient city of Kashgar in Xinjiang is today a Uygur cultural hub as well as a regional commercial and trading center. It is now locked down over fears it is in the middle of a coronavirus outbreak.  Over last weekend and into the early week, China tested 4.74 million people in the area after a 17-year-old girl in the county of Shufu tested positive. The mass testing campaign revealed 183 people who tested positive for the coronavirus, most of whom were asymptomatic. Officials have put the city, and the surrounding area, in strict lockdown, as I reported for the South China Morning Post. Only a handful of supermarkets and food stalls are open a
China races to contain coronavirus outbreak in Xinjiang
The remote city of Kashgar in China’s far west detected more than 100 asymptomatic Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the regional health authority said. Gu Yingsu, the Xinjiang health committee deputy head, told a press conference that all 137 new cases were related to one identified in a 17-year-old villager in Shufu county the previous day. Gu said the cases were all related to a factory in a neighboring village where the girl’s parents worked. The outbreak is the biggest reported in China since a cluster of cases linked to a market in Beijing in June. The Kashgar authorities started a mass testing program after the girl was found to be infected during a routine screening. The health authority sa
Chinese Muslims banned from going on individual trips to Mecca
China has introduced new rules banning non-official pilgrimages to Mecca and Muslims wishing to visit the holy site will need to arrange trips with the government.  Observers said the decision was another attempt by the Communist Party to control religious affairs. In rules issued on Monday for the Muslim pilgrimage, known as the haj, the State Administration for Religious Affairs said all such trips to Saudi Arabia must be arranged by the Islamic Association of China, an organization controlled by the party’s international outreach arm, the United Front Work Department. “The association should educate haj attendees on patriotic and safe behavior, strengthen the management of attendees, and
Germany calls on the world to accept China’s persecuted Muslims as refugees
In a United Nations speech on Tuesday supported by 38 other countries, Germany criticized China’s human rights record and called on the world to accept persecuted Uygur Muslims as refugees. The group of mostly Western countries, represented by Berlin’s ambassador to the United Nations, Christoph Heusgen, also expressed “deep concerns” over the national security law Beijing has imposed in Hong Kong, which allows people to be sent to mainland China for trials. Beijing and its UN allies fired back, rejecting what they deemed interference in “China’s internal affairs.” A million Uygurs are in Chinese detention in the far western region of Xinjiang, according to UN findings. President Xi Jinping
Did China just acknowledge the scale of its Xinjiang camps?
China released a white paper on Thursday claiming that its far-western region of Xinjiang has provided “vocational training” to nearly 1.3 million workers every year on average from 2014 to 2019. It comes as Beijing is facing mounting criticism from Western countries and human rights groups over its policies in the region, where it is believed to have detained at least 1 million Uygurs and other ethnic Muslim minorities in internment camps. China has been accused of subjecting detainees to political indoctrination and forced labor in the camps, but it has denied the allegations and insisted they are “vocational training centers” where people learn language and job skills. Observers said the
Chinese cotton ban set to shake up global fashion trade
US apparel groups are expecting a Trump administration decision as early as this week blocking imports of Chinese-made textile and apparel products, according to textiles industry sources and a former Trump White House trade official. The decision is expected to be made on the grounds that the products were made with forced labor in the Xinjiang region of China.  Such a move has the potential to affect tens of billions of dollars of US textile and clothing imports that contain cotton, yarn or fabric produced in the far-western region. It also could boomerang back on US cotton producers if Beijing retaliates. The US has accused the Chinese government of engaging in “widespread forced labor,”
Xinjiang residents grapple with sweeping coronavirus measures
Residents in China’s Xinjiang region say they are confined to their homes and forced to take herbal medicines during a blanket lockdown to contain a recent coronavirus outbreak, measures that they say are harsher than those elsewhere in the country. In Urumqi, the capital of the far western border region, most residents have been banned from leaving their apartments since July 16, when a fresh Covid-19 outbreak was discovered. To date, the virus has infected about 900 people in a city of 3.5 million. Although no new cases have been confirmed since August 16, residents say they have not been told about when the prolonged lockdown will be lifted. Two of them told Inkstone the strict lockdown m
China sanctions US officials in response to Xinjiang ban
China announced the details of its promised retaliation against the US for its sanctions over Xinjiang, sanctioning American officials and senators on Monday in the latest tit-for-tat confrontation in their deteriorating relations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said the Chinese sanctions target Samuel Brownback, the US ambassador at large for international religious freedom, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and Representative Chris Smith. “Xinjiang is entirely internal affairs of China, and the US has no right to interfere,” Hua said. China’s announcement came after the US government on Thursday slapped sanctions on several Chinese senior officials in charge of the Xinjiang Uygur
Two in three Americans think poorly of China, survey says
Americans’ views on China have fallen to their lowest level since an annual poll started asking the question in 2005, according to survey results released Tuesday. The poll last month by the Washington think tank Pew Research Center found 66% of respondents held an unfavorable view of China, up from 47% in 2017 when President Donald Trump took office. And a large majority of the 1,000 Americans polled said they lacked confidence in President Xi Jinping to do the right thing when it came to global affairs, a steep increase since last year. The results come as the relationship between the two economic giants has deteriorated rapidly during the coronavirus outbreak. The two countries are engage
Uygurs abroad in mental health crisis over plight of relatives in Xinjiang
Several years ago, Ilshat Hassan contemplated buying a gun. He was receiving threats over the phone and online from people who took issue with his advocacy for the Uygur people, he says, and feared for the safety of his family. But his wife objected, and Hassan eventually abandoned the idea. They were both scared of the possibility that the state of his mental health could one day cause him to turn the firearm on himself. “Hurting myself,” says Hassan, an IT professional living in Virginia. “That was my concern.” Struggling with anxiety and depression, the 58-year-old is just one of many members of the Uygur diaspora who say their mental health is in crisis, triggered or exacerbated by the s