Photo credit: SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng
Only one week after the New York Times published one of the most significant leaks of Chinese government documents in decades — over 400 pages of private speeches from high-level officials, internal memos, and records of investigations and disciplinary action relating to the crackdown on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang — a second leak has further confirmed the worst of reporting about that ongoing atrocity.
The new leaks, from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), directly concern the Chinese state’s management of its system of concentration camps, and confirm that they are indeed managed like high-security prisons. ICIJ calls the leaked collection of documents “the China Cables,” and Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, the lead reporter who worked on the ICIJ’s reports, described their significance this way:
The China Cables represents the first leak of a classified Chinese government document revealing the inner workings of the camps, the severity of conditions behind the fences, and the dehumanizing instructions regulating inmates’ mundane daily routines. The briefings are the first leak of classified government documents on the mass-surveillance and predictive policing effort.
Read Allen-Ebrahimian’s whole report: Exposed: China’s operating manuals for mass internment and arrest by algorithm.
Also read an op-ed in the New York Times by leading Xinjiang researcher Adrian Zenz: China didn’t want us to know. Now its own files are doing the talking. If you are following this issue closely, you may also want to read Zenz’s new paper in the Journal of Political Risk on the “Evidence from Chinese Government Documents about the Nature and Extent of Xinjiang’s Extrajudicial Internment Campaign.”
The BBC has a shorter roundup of takeaways from the documents: Data leak reveals how China ‘brainwashes’ Uighurs in prison camps.
Finally, consider that despite the mountain of evidence, the Chinese government has chosen to issue a complete denial of any abuses.