Xinjiang Documentation Project

The Xinjiang Documentation Project offers a chronological documentation of reports on the ongoing troubling events in China’s Xinjiang since as early as 2015. The project aims to provide a reading guide about the recent developments, experts’ explanations, as well as an understanding of what ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs are going through on a daily basis. More resources will be updated regularly.

Xinjiang Documentation Project

This PDF version of the resource guide is temporary, and will be replaced with a full resource site shortly

The Documentation is split up into 7 sections:

1. What is Happening?
The materials listed here document the gradual escalation of state control in Xinjiang, Northwest China. From demolition of mosques and passport recall beginning in 2015, to today’s mandatory biodata collections, hi-tech surveillance, and mass re-education camps incarcerating Muslim minorities, the Chinese state has used the “terror” discourse to designate Uyghurs as a biopolitical threat. Researchers have identified scale and locations of some camps. The estimated numbers of the incarcerated could be as many as one million.

2. How is this Happening?
Researchers and journalists have written extensively on multiple factors that have contributed to the current Xinjiang crisis. For decades, the Xinjiang region has been a strategic resource extraction site and hub for China’s political and economic expansion into Central Asia. In the name of maintaining stability, along with the global discourse of “war on terror,” the Party-state justifies its campaigns against Uyghur culture, Islamic religion, and the expression of ethnic identity.

3. “Counter-terrorism” as Business
Chinese state control efforts in Xinjiang are part of Xi Jinping’s signature campaign “One Belt One Road,” the project to extend Chinese economic and political influence throughout Central Eurasian networks via Xinjiang. Meanwhile, surveillance technology companies in Inner China have lucrative contracts to service Xinjiang’s stability maintenance industrial complex.

4. China: from Denial to Justification to More Surveillance
When the UN panel reported one million ethnic Uighur Muslims being held in internment camps in Xinjiang, the Chinese state first denied the existence of “re-education camps” and then justified “vocational training and transformation through education” as necessary to combat secessionist activities and to counter terrorism (see BBC report “China Uighurs: Beijing denies detaining one million”). The same surveillance techniques have started to appear in other parts of China and even abroad after testing in Xinjiang.

5. What Has Been Done?
Now that the events in Xinjiang have received global media coverage, scholars are speaking up for those who cannot speak, and US lawmakers are seeking to impose economic sanctions on responsible Chinese authorities.

6. Lived Experience under the “War on Terror”
What is it like to live in a surveillance state as Muslim minorities? The materials in this section give an idea: carrying an internal pass book to get around, unable to register your new-born baby because Islamic names are banned, being reported by Han neighbors when renting an apartment, losing hope of living when jailed indefinitely in a reeducation camp, suffering severe depression and survivors’ guilt for leaving families behind.

7. More Resources
Featured here are sites of ongoing database of camp documentation and victim testimonies.