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September 19 2019

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How China’s surveillance state was a mirror to the US for whistle-blower Edward Snowden

South China Morning Post, 17 Sep. 2019

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«In his book Permanent Record, published on Wednesday, the former US spy agency contractor who now lives in exile in Russia, detailed how he fled to Hong Kong and then Moscow after creating one of the most serious security breaches in American history.

Snowden, who was a technician subcontracted to the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency for seven years, said he began to have suspicions about secret post-September 11 US surveillance programmes after he was asked in 2009 to brief a conference in Tokyo on how Chinese spy agencies were targeting the US intelligence community.

Preparing for the briefing, Snowden said he became aware that China’s surveillance of private communications was “utterly mind-boggling”. He was initially “so impressed by the system’s sheer achievement and audacity that I almost forgot to be appalled by its totalitarian controls”, he said.

He then began to feel disturbed when he realised that America, an internet and software power, might have done similar things to its people and the world.

“There was simply no way for America to have so much information about what the Chinese were doing without having done some of the very same things itself, and I had the sneaking sense while I was looking through all this China material that I was looking at a mirror and seeing a reflection of America,” he said.

“What China was doing publicly to its own citizens, America might be – could be – doing secretly to the world.”»

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China's Huawei is driving AI surveillance tools in Africa — Quartz Africa

«At least 75 out of 176 nations surveyed globally are actively using AI technologies for surveillance purposes, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. These include facial recognition systems, smart policing tools, and the establishment of safe city platforms. The leading vendors of these systems globally are Chinese firms, led by Huawei, which has supplied these technologies to at least 50 states worldwide.

The study’s author, Steven Feldstein, wrote these tools were being used to “accomplish a range of policy objectives—some lawful, others that violate human rights, and many of which fall into a murky middle ground.”

African countries are still struggling to adopt AI technologies, with the report noting that less than one-quarter of countries investing in these systems. That’s partly explained by the fact the continent is still struggling with internet connectivity.

Yet Chinese companies are quickly penetrating African markets, offering soft loans for governments to purchase their equipment and promising to set up and manage these systems. In Kenya, for instance, Huawei has helped install video systems that deployed 1,800 HD cameras and 200 HD traffic surveillance systems across Nairobi. In Zimbabwe, the Guangzhou-based developer CloudWalk announced a controversial deal in 2018 to oversee a large-scale facial recognition program in collaboration with authorities.

Most of these arrangements have come under scrutiny especially in light of how China harnesses technology for social control—particularly among ethnic Uyghur Muslims in its restive northwestern Xinjiang region.»

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How China Uses High-Tech Surveillance to Subdue Minorities - The New York Times

China’s high-tech apartheid in Xinjiang.

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«How China Turned a City Into a Prison

Developed and sold by the China Electronics Technology Corporation, a state-run defense manufacturer, the system in Kashgar is on the cutting edge of what has become a flourishing new market for technology that the government can use to monitor and subdue millions of Uighurs and members of other Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

Treating a city like a battlefield, the platform was designed to “apply the ideas of military cyber systems to civilian public security,” Wang Pengda, a C.E.T.C. engineer, said in an official blog post. “Looking back, it truly was an idea ahead of its time.”

The system taps into networks of neighborhood informants; tracks individuals and analyzes their behavior; tries to anticipate potential crime, protest or violence; and then recommends which security forces to deploy, the company said.

On the screen during the demonstration was a slogan: “If someone exists, there will be traces, and if there are connections, there will be information.”

A New York Times investigation drawing on government and company records as well as interviews with industry insiders found that China is in effect hard-wiring Xinjiang for segregated surveillance, using an army of security personnel to compel ethnic minorities to submit to monitoring and data collection while generally ignoring the majority Han Chinese, who make up 36 percent of Xinjiang’s population.

It is a virtual cage that complements the indoctrination camps in Xinjiang where the authorities have detained a million or more Uighurs and other Muslims in a push to transform them into secular citizens who will never challenge the ruling Communist Party. The program helps identify people to be sent to the camps or investigated, and keeps tabs on them when they are released.

The Trump administration is considering whether to blacklist one of the Chinese companies at the center of the Xinjiang effort, Hikvision, and bar it from buying American technology. Hikvision is a major manufacturer of video surveillance equipment, with customers around the world and across Xinjiang, where its cameras have been installed at mosques and detention camps. C.E.T.C. owns about 42 percent of the company through subsidiaries.

“Xinjiang is maybe a kind of more extreme, more intrusive example of China’s mass surveillance systems,” said Maya Wang, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch who has studied the technology in the region. “These systems are designed for a very explicit purpose — to target Muslims.”»

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AFP via Hong Kong Free Press: China pushes inter-ethnic marriage in Xinjiang assimilation drive

«…it is unlikely that the latest government-backed incentive will change perceptions of Uighurs and Han across ethnic lines, experts say. Though statistics on inter-ethnic marriage in China are scarce, national census data from 2010 shows that both Han and Uighur populations tend to marry within their ethnic group, with only 0.2 percent of Uighurs married to Han people.»

Talk East Turkestan on YouTube: «Uyghur girls are forced to marry Han #Chinese to save their parents from torture.»

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Islamophobia – Muslim Council of Hong Kong

  • Muslim inmates in China detention camp forced to eat pork, drink alcohol and physically tortured as some commit suicide (May 19, 2018)

    «China has blamed violent attacks in Xinjiang in recent years on Islamist extremists bent on waging holy war on the state, with radical ideas said to be coming from abroad over the Internet and from visits to foreign countries by Uighurs, the region’s predominant ethnic group.

    In response, Beijing has turned the entire region into a 21st-century surveillance state, with ubiquitous checkpoints and widespread use of facial recognition technology, and has even forced Muslims to install spyware on their phones that allows the authorities to monitor their activity online, experts say. Long beards and veils have been banned, and overt expression of religious sentiment is likely to cause immediate suspicion.

    In an extension of the already pervasive program of human surveillance, more than 1 million Communist Party cadres have been dispatched to spend days on end staying in the homes of families — most of them Muslim — throughout Xinjiang, according to a report by Human Rights Watch released this week. There, they carry out political indoctrination and report back on anything from the extent of religious beliefs to uncleanliness and alcoholism.»

  • Uyghur Muslim women being forced into marriage to Chinese men as Ugyhur men are being sent to concentration camps, gene washing in motion (June 1, 2018)

    «…eight aspects of China’s extensive assimilation policy in Xinjiang that has been underway since 1949:

    1. Sincization of Uyghur alphabet,
    2. censorship of Uyghur books,
    3. coercion of Uyghur intellectuals to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party of China,
    4. banning of traditional clothing,
    5. criminalization of “halal” labels,
    6. assigning Han officials to Uyghur families,
    7. banning Islamic names, and
    8. destroying historic buildings in Kashgar.»

  • “Uyghur Muslims under China’s draconian rule can neither fast nor pray during this Ramadan, 3 years in a row”, says Uyghur American Association (May 7, 2019)

    «Activists and U.S. politicians meanwhile called for greater world attention to and condemnation of China’s network of political “re-education camps” that have held up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas since April 2017 as reported by Radio Free Asia.

    Authorities in Xinjiang have typically forced restaurants to stay open and restricted access to mosques during Ramadan to discourage traditional observation of the holy month, and in recent years authorities’ have tried to ban fasting among Uyghurs, drawing widespread criticism from rights groups.

    “The entire Muslim world has started fasting and praying. But unfortunately the Uyghur Muslims under China’s draconian rule can neither fast nor pray during this Ramadan,” said Ilshat Hassan, president of the Washington-based Uyghur American Association.

    “It is not just Uyghurs’ Islamic faith that is under Chinese attack but also their very existence as a unique indigenous people,” he told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

    “The international community needs to take action for China locking up millions of Uyghurs in concentration camps. And the Muslim world, especially OIC, should hold China accountable for its anti-Islamic policy and crimes against humanity,” added Hassan.»

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Taiwan News: Netizens outraged by 'gene washing' wedding between Chinese man and Uyghur woman

«In the video, a host of a wedding party appears to ask the Chinese groom how long he has known the bride, and he replies "two months." Instead of being happy, the Uyghur woman has a sad look on her face, as if she is being coerced into the wedding. The person who uploaded the video indicated that it was an example of forced marriages between Han Chinese men and Uyghur women that the Chinese government is implementing to assimilate the ethnic minority group in Xinjiang Province.»

YouTube: Uyghur woman is enforced to marry China man

Reposted byfinkregh finkregh
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China Is Treating Islam Like a Mental Illness

«The sheer scale of the internment camp system, which according to The Wall Street Journal has doubled in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region just within the last year, is mindboggling. The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China describes it as “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.” Beijing began by targeting Uighur extremists, but now even benign manifestations of Muslim identity—like growing a long beard—can get a Uighur sent to a camp, the Journal noted. Earlier this month, when a UN panel confronted a senior Chinese official about the camps, he said there are “no such things as reeducation centers,” even though government documents refer to the facilities that way. Instead, he claimed they’re just vocational schools for criminals.

China has been selling a very different narrative to its own population. Although the authorities frequently describe the internment camps as schools, they also liken them to another type of institution: hospitals. Here’s an excerpt from an official Communist Party audio recording, which was transmitted last year to Uighurs via WeChat, a social-media platform, and which was transcribed and translated by Radio Free Asia:

Members of the public who have been chosen for reeducation have been infected by an ideological illness. They have been infected with religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology, and therefore they must seek treatment from a hospital as an inpatient. … The religious extremist ideology is a type of poisonous medicine, which confuses the mind of the people. … If we do not eradicate religious extremism at its roots, the violent terrorist incidents will grow and spread all over like an incurable malignant tumor.

“Religious belief is seen as a pathology” in China, explained James Millward, a professor of Chinese history at Georgetown University, adding that Beijing often claims religion fuels extremism and separatism. “So now they’re calling reeducation camps ‘hospitals’ meant to cure thinking. It’s like an inoculation, a search-and-destroy medical procedure that they want to apply to the whole Uighur population, to kill the germs of extremism. But it’s not just giving someone a shot—it’s locking them up for months in bad conditions.”»

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Uighurs of China - 1.5 Million Held in Prison Camps - Fact Sheet

July 30, 2019

«As many as 1.5 million Uighurs are being held in Chinese prison camps. This Uighur fact sheet and explainer on the Chinese Uighur people look at the current crackdown and persecution that is taking place in China against the Uighur people.»

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Details Emerge About Xinjiang Reeducation Camp System

May 17, 2018

«The camps have been reported in recent months as part of an ongoing crackdown in the region, launched in 2014 and later extended, which is targeting the native Uyghur ethnic minority in an effort to stop violent attacks which have been carried out in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China. Rights groups and Uyghur exiles blame the crackdown on increased ethnic tensions and grievances among the Uyghur population, who have been subjected to religious fasting banslocal and region-wide rules against “extremist behavior” including wearing veils or beards, propaganda campaigns, a ban on “extreme” Islamic baby names, and more recently a biometric data collection system. The Chinese government has also turned Xinjiang into a testbed for new high-tech surveillance technologies, creating, in Adrian Zenz’s words, “perhaps the most heavily policed region on the planet.” Zenz also provides evidence of biometric data collection, despite government denials…»

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UN: Act to End China’s Mass Detentions in Xinjiang

«“The magnitude of abuses allegedly occurring in Xinjiang demand uncompromising scrutiny from the Human Rights Council,” said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director at Human Rights Watch. “The Human Rights Council’s integrity demands that states not allow China to hide behind its membership or economic might to escape accountability.”

The Chinese authorities have detained Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims – outside any legal process – in “political education” camps for their perceived disloyalty to the government and Chinese Communist Party. In those camps, they are subjected to forced political indoctrination, renunciation of their faith, mistreatment, and, in some cases, torture. Numerous UN experts, treaty bodies, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have expressed grave concern about the situation in Xinjiang and called for unrestricted access to the region.

China has not responded positively to these requests. In December and January, the government arranged visits for some journalists and diplomats to what they claim to be mere “vocational training centers.” Following those visits, Chinese state media asserted that visitors found the conditions there “impress[ive]” and detainees “in good spirits.” “China has had multiple opportunities over the past year to answer serious questions about the horrendous situation in Xinjiang, and at every turn provided narratives that strain credibility,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “China should recognize that only an international fact-finding mission can separate facts from fiction and set the record straight.”»

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UN Chief Should Denounce China’s Abuses in Xinjiang

«United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should join the growing number of those speaking out publicly against China’s mass detention of over one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists, and World Uyghur Congress, said in a letter to the secretary-general released on September 17, 2019.

By publicly and unequivocally condemning the Chinese government’s abusive policies and calling for the immediate closing of its “political education” camps in Xinjiang, Guterres would make an important contribution in addressing one of the most pressing human rights issues during his tenure leading the United Nations.

“Secretary-General Guterres should use the weight and authority of his office to unambiguously call on China’s leadership to shut down Xinjiang’s abusive detention centers,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The countless victims of China’s latest wave of repression depend on his leadership in standing up to Beijing and demanding an end to the persecution.”»

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【PDF】 Xinjiang Joint Statement

«In July, 25 countries issued a joint statement on Xinjiang at the UN Human Rights Council that raised serious concerns about the arbitrary detention and intense surveillance that the predominantly Turkic Muslim population in Xinjiang has been subjected to in recent years.» — Human Rights Watch
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Saudi Arabia and Russia among 37 states backing China's Xinjiang policy - Reuters

«Saudi Arabia, Russia and 35 other states have written to the United Nations supporting China’s policies in its western region of Xinjiang, according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters on Friday, in contrast to strong Western criticism.

China has been accused of detaining a million Muslims and persecuting ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang, and 22 ambassadors signed a letter to the U.N. Human Rights Council this week criticising its policies.

But the letter supporting China commended what it called China’s remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.»

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The Diplomat - Xinjiang re-education centers

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Hindustan Times - news about Xinjiang

September 13 2019

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September 07 2019

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China Claims US Behind Hong Kong Protests

October 12, 2014

«Although China has strongly implied that foreigners were secretly controlling the Hong Kong protests in recent weeks, the [People’s Daily] commentary was the first time it so explicitly accused the U.S. of being behind the movement. Its support for this accusation is not very compelling, however, as it mostly focuses on the coverage of independent different media outlets, one of which appears to be a Hong Kong-based online publication.

The commentary begins by noting that, “according to media reports,” Louisa Greve, National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) the Vice President for Asia, Middle East & North Africa, and Global Programs, met with “key people” in Occupy Central “several months ago” to “talk about the movement.” The unidentified media reports the article references likely refers to an earlier report published in a “Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing newspaper,” according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. The allegations themselves are most likely based on a NED-hosted public discussion on democracy in Hong Kong between Occupy Central leaders Martin Lee and Anson Chan that was held in Washington, DC in April of this year. Louisa Greve mediated the hour long talk, a video of which is available on YouTube.

The National Endowment for Democracy is a democracy promotion organization that, while administered as a private non-profit organization, receives the bulk of its funding from the U.S. government. In 2013 it gave two grants that together totaled less than $300,000 to two organizations for work on Hong Kong. Only one of those organizations is based in Hong Kong.

However, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a subsidiary of the NED, does maintain a tiny office in Hong Kong. The Diplomat has learned that NDI’s Hong Kong office typically employs one international staff member and occasionally hires one or two locals to help out when needed. Most of NDI’s work in Hong Kong focuses on holding workshops attended by young leaders from all interested political parties that focus on building skills in areas like public speaking, campaign strategy, message development and message delivery. The Diplomat has learned that NDI has regularly worked with pro-Beijing political parties in Hong Kong who, like all political parties, hope to prevail in local elections. Local Hong Kong press have occasionally accused NDI of being a front for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the past.

Beyond NED, the People’s Daily article notes that three former U.S. Consuls General to Hong Kong had “recently united” to write an open letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung.

Most of the People’s Daily’s claim that the U.S. is trying to foment a color revolution in Hong Kong, however, is based on mainstream newspapers using the term “Umbrella Revolution” in their coverage of the Hong Kong protests. For example, it notes that the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal had used the term “Umbrella Revolution” in their Hong Kong coverage. Neither organization is affiliated with the U.S. government.»

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10 Absurd Conspiracy Theories About China

«Hong Kong Protesters Were US Stooges

This theory is particularly popular with the Chinese government, which claims that the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year were linked directly to US government attempts to destabilize China. Pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po claimed that Joshua Wong, a student leader, had met with US consular officials and even received training from the Marines. Theorists also claimed that opposition leader Benny Tai, a University of Hong Kong law professor, was being paid to rile up sedition by the US State Department through his membership in the Center for Comparative and Public Law, a pro–human rights NGO.

The theory goes that the US is heavily involved in stirring up popular discontent and protests against foreign governments, including staged violence in the 2010 Thailand protests, and that the CIA and other US government organs have similar plans for Hong Kong. The claims of US conspiracy gave the Chinese government justification for sly crackdowns on the protest movement, including paying triads to assault protesters and bringing in masked men from Guangdong to disrupt the protests with violent force. One protester complained of the mainland thugs: “Hong Kong people don’t spit on Hong Kong people. In Hong Kong, they spit on the roads.”»

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