Xinjiang: A homestay program for forced cultural assimilation


Yesterday, there were two well-documented new reports about the internment camps and other abuses being perpetrated in Xinjiang:

  • Ben Dooley of Agence France-Presse reported on government procurement orders for handcuffs, cattle prods, police batons, and pepper spray intended for use at internment camps.
  • The BBC’s John Sudworth visited Xinjiang, analyzed satellite photos, and conducted interviews with eight Uyghurs living overseas to produce China’s hidden camps.

Only after we put yesterday’s newsletter to bed did I read the third major report on Xinjiang published on ChinaFile yesterday: China’s government has ordered a million citizens to occupy Uyghur homes. Here’s what they think they’re doing. The article is by anthropologist Darren Byler, who has spent two years living in Xinjiang and maintained many of his Han and Uyghur contacts there.

On a recent visit, he found that many of his Han friends have been co-opted into a government homestay program in which Han “big brothers and sisters” spy on and try to encourage Uyghur families to speak Chinese and assimilate into Han culture. Read the whole thing. In its own way, it’s as sinister as the network of internment camps.

Related and further reading: