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China is attempting to reduce the Uighur population with labour programmes, leaked report reveals

Chinese labour programmes for Uighurs in Xinjiang are designed in part to reduce the population of the ethnic minority group, a study accidentally published online states.

But an archived copy was discovered and saved by a researcher outside of China before the university realised its mistake, the BBC reported.

Dr Adrian Zenz, a leading scholar on Chinese policy towards Uighurs, analysed the report and produced an English translation. 

The report states that the long term measure of moving Uighurs to new jobs outside of the group's heartland in Xinjiang 'not only reduces the Uighur population density in Xinjiang, but also is an important method to influence, melt and assimilate Uighur minorities.' 

Chinese labour programmes for Uighurs in Xinjiang are designed in part to reduce the population of the ethnic minority group, a study accidentally published online states. The report, written by academics at Nankai University, was taken offline in mid-2020 after being published in December 2019. But an archived copy was discovered and saved by a researcher outside of China before the university realised its mistake. Pictured: A detention centre in Xinjiang [File photo]

'Let them gradually change their thinking and understanding, and transform their values and outlook on life through a change of environment and through labour work,' the report said, recommending that the programmes be expanded to eastern and central regions of the country. 

Dr Zenz described the comment as 'the most stunning admission of this report,' telling the BBC that the authors of the study were what made it particularly interesting.

'This is an unprecedented, authoritative source written by leading academics and former government officials with high-level access to Xinjiang itself,' he said. 

China has denied accusations of forced labour and labour transfers, which some human rights experts and foreign government have said amount to cultural genocide, along with the so-called 're-education centres' in Xinjiang where some one million Uighurs have been arbitrarily detained.  

The Chinese government has said that the work programmes are voluntary and are aimed at tackling poverty. 

The report also emphasised the 'voluntary' nature of the programmes, but provided information that appeared to contradict that, including worker export targets and the need for security guards in the labour sourcing teams.

In a statement to the BBC, the Chinese government said that the report 'reflects only the author's personal view and much of its contents are not in line with the facts.'   

At times, the report appears to suggest that the measures against the Uighur population, which is mostly Muslim, have been too extreme, noting that the number of Uighurs placed in detention centres 'far exceeds' those suspected of having extremist links. 

'The entire Uighur population should not be assumed to be rioters, the report said. 'This is very detrimental to the long term stability of Xinjiang.' 

An estimated one million Uighurs have been forcibly detained in China amid reports of forced sterilisation, sexual assault of women, intense surveillance and destruction of cultural and religious practices and sites. China has repeatedly denied the accusations. Pictured: The Chinese flag flies over a housing compound in Xinjiang [File photo]

Chinese authorities have said that the so-called 're-education centres' in Xinjiang are for vocational training and to combat religious extremism. Previously, China denied the existence of the detention camps. 

The crackdown on Uighurs followed two brutal attacks on pedestrians in Beijing 2013 and Kunming in 2014, which were blamed on Uighur extremists.

China is believed to be seeking to 're-educate' Uighurs by replacing perceived cultural and religious loyalties with allegiance to the Communist Party.

The report said that some local and provincial authorities were refusing to accept workers from Xinjiang on 'security grounds' - a situation which it said created a 'serious obstacle' to the country's goals. 

Dr Zenz's review of the report included legal analysis by the former senior adviser to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Erin Farrell Rosenberg.

Rosenberg found 'credible grounds to conclude' that the labour transfer programme met the criteria of two crimes against humanity - persecution and forcible transfer. 

'There is substantial evidence that the Chinese government is carrying out a widespread and systematic attack against the Uighur civilian population pursuant to a government policy,' Rosenberg said. 

An estimated one million Uighurs have been forcibly detained in China amid reports of forced sterilisation, sexual assault of women, intense surveillance and destruction of cultural and religious practices and sites.

Chinese authorities have said that the so-called 're-education centres' in Xinjiang are for vocational training and to combat religious extremism. Previously, China denied the existence of the detention camps. Pictured: Uighurs during a lesson at a centre in Kashgar, Xinjiang on January 4, 2019 [File photo]

China has continually denied the allegations and said on Tuesday that it was discussing a visit to Xinjiang by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet.

Bachelet said on Friday that a thorough and independent assessment of the situation in Xinjiang was necessary following reports of arbitrary detention, sexual violence and forced labour. 

'The door to Xinjiang is always open, and we welcome the high commissioner to visit Xinjiang,' China's delegate Jiang Duan told the UN human rights council.

'Communication is kept up between the two sides, but the aim of the visit is to provide exchanges and cooperation rather than … so-called investigation based on 'guilty before proven'. 

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