Chinese Effort to Collect “Micro Clues” on Uyghurs Exposed in Report

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Authorities in China’s Xinjiang region use predictive policing and human surveillance to collect ‘micro-clues’ about Uyghurs and empower neighborhood informants to ensure compliance at all levels of society, report says .

Research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) think tank detailed the Xinjiang authorities’ extensive use of grassroots committees, embedded in China’s extended surveillance technology, to control movement and the emotions of their Uyghur neighbors.

The results further highlight the extraordinary reach of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the largely Muslim and supposedly autonomous region, going beyond police crackdowns and mass arrests to ensure full control.

The report also revealed the identity of officials – including two former visiting scholars at Harvard University – and organizations that make up the political architecture of Beijing’s multi-year crackdown on Uyghurs, which organizations say advocacy, included the detention of around 1 million people in re-education camps.

The report says that the nominally voluntary local committees mirror the “revolutionary neighborhood committees” of the Mao era, with daily meetings delegating home visits and investigations and assessing whether individuals are in need of “re-education.”

However, according to ASPI, leaked police records have shown that modern committees have also received “micro-clues” from China’s predictive policing system, the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP). Such clues could include someone having an unexpected visitor or receiving a phone call abroad, and would prompt inspection visits modeled on interactions between neighbors.

The instruction manuals cited by the ASPI showed that the members of the Kashgar city committee were asked to “show warmth to their Uyghur ‘parents’ and give candy to the children” while observing the Uyghur targets. .

“Xinjiang’s community control mechanisms are part of a nationwide campaign to improve popular governance, which seeks to mobilize the masses to help eradicate dissent and instability and increase the party’s dominance among the lower strata. low society, ”the report said.

It details the case of an 18-year-old Uyghur man, Anayit Abliz, in Ürümqi, who was sentenced to three years in a re-education camp after being caught using a file-sharing app widely used in China. to share censored movies, music and other content. “While he was detained, neighborhood committee officials visited his family members six times in a single week, examining the family’s behaviors and seeing if they were emotionally stable,” the report said.

The think tank said the IJOP was managed by the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC). PLAC, which Chinese President Xi Jinping has called the party’s “knife handle”, is China’s oversight of the national law and order system reporting directly to the CPC Central Committee. The report found that he wielded significantly expanded operational and budgetary control in Xinjiang, an expansion previously seen in mass political campaigns.

“Xinjiang’s bureaucratic cogs over the past seven years correspond to a larger model of authoritarian rule in China,” wrote lead author Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, saying some of the tactics used in the campaign had been designed elsewhere, while others used in Xinjiang were reproduced. in other regions, including Hong Kong.

ASPI has also collected basic information on more than 440 county party senior and deputy secretaries in the Chinese region since 2014, unmasking individual officials implementing the CCP crackdown, including at least two who had been trained in Harvard as Visiting Fellows.

The report says the vast majority of county party secretaries – the highest local officials – over the past seven years have been of Han ethnicity. He said no Uyghurs could be identified among the secretaries in September, but they often served as “ceremonial” second in command. ASPI said its findings showed that the CCP’s promise of “ethnic autonomy” for the nominally autonomous region was a “fig leaf.”

The report also alleged that in addition to mass internments and coercive work assignments, residents of China’s far west region of Xinjiang were also coerced into participating in Mao-era mass political campaigns. .

In response to the report, the Chinese Embassy in London denied the allegations and accused ASPI of being an “anti-China rumor maker.” He claimed his re-education centers were vocational schools operating as part of his counterterrorism efforts “no different from the disengagement and disengagement program (DDP) in the UK or de-radicalization centers in France “.

The ASPI report – funded in part by the British, Australian and US governments – adds to a growing body of evidence of Beijing’s crackdown in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has been accused by Human Rights Watch and legal groups of committing “crimes against humanity”, while some Western governments have officially declared that the government is carrying out “genocide”. China has denied all of these accusations.

The report says Xinjiang authorities expect “the extreme and repressive practices of the 2017 re-education campaign to become the norm by the end of 2021, a step that the party state calls” stability. global ””. A recent Xinjiang media report by Associated Press revealed a reduction in visible means of control and repression, but “a lingering sense of fear” among the population and continued surveillance.

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