$9 billion spent on surveillance tech in Xinjiang in 2017

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Evidence of a vast system of “re-education camps” in Xinjiang  is growing even as the Chinese government continues to deny their existence. The camps are estimated to hold as much as 10 percent of the Uyghur population. They are closely related to what is probably the world’s most sophisticated citizen surveillance operation, documented last year in December  by the Wall Street Journal. Yesterday, Agence France-Presse reported :

  • “Xinjiang saw security spending balloon ‘nearly 100 percent’ last year, totaling more than 58 billion yuan ($9 billion) — twice its spending on healthcare,” according to Xinjiang specialist Adrian Zenz.
  • “Facial recognition, iris scanners, DNA collection and artificial intelligence are also being used by Xinjiang’s government to ensure there are ‘no cracks, no blind spots, no gaps’ for the region’s more than 20 million residents to slip through.”
  • Chinese firms are cashing in. The Shenzhen-based firm Hikvision has enjoyed five government contracts in Xinjiang totaling $280 million, with much of it going toward camera equipment in rural as well as urban areas.
  • In other Xinjiang gulag news, Global Voices has more on Erfan Hezim, the “ rising star footballer who is among more than a million Uyghurs sent to Chinese re-education’ camps.”