Trump’s alleged remarks are in stark distinction to the formal place advocated by his administration, which has repeatedly challenged Beijing in excess of it repressive insurance policies in Xinjiang.
Previous July, Secretary of Point out Mike Pompeo went so far as to publicly label China’s procedure of Uyghurs as the “stain of the century.”
Here’s what you have to have to know about Xinjiang and what’s been likely on there.
Exactly where is Xinjiang and who lives there?
Xinjiang, officially named the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is a distant region in China’s far west.
It is home to about 11 million Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority that speak a language carefully associated to Turkish and have their individual distinctive culture.
Rich in purely natural methods, specifically oil and pure gasoline, the region has seen a big-scale inflow of the country’s bulk Han populace in the latest decades, amid a concerted work by the federal government to create the region’s financial state.
Traditionally, Uyghurs had been the greater part in the location. Now, they account for just beneath fifty percent of Xinjiang’s complete populace, and numerous of them live in the southern, rural section of the region.
Xinjiang is also geographically strategic for Beijing. It is China’s gateway to Central Asia, bordering Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, as nicely as Mongolia and Russia in the north and Pakistan and India in the south.
What is going on there?
The US State Division estimates that more than just one million Uyghurs, as properly as customers from other Muslim minority groups, have been detained in a sprawling network of internment camps in Xinjiang, exactly where they are reportedly “subjected to torture, cruel and inhumane procedure these kinds of as actual physical and sexual abuse, pressured labor, and demise.”
Former detainees have told CNN they skilled political indoctrination and abuse inside of the camps, this kind of as food items and sleep deprivation and compelled injections.
To begin with, Beijing flatly denied the existence of the camps. But it later claimed the facilities are voluntary “vocational education centers” where folks study occupation capabilities, Chinese language and rules. The federal government now insists that the camps are vital for preventing religious extremism and terrorism.
The documents, with each other with other initial-hand reviews, paint an alarming image of what seems to be a strategic campaign by Beijing to strip Uyghurs of their cultural and spiritual identity and suppress actions considered to be unpatriotic.
The suppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang has also observed an raise in mass surveillance all through the region.
When CNN traveled by way of Xinjiang in 2019, there were surveillance cameras about every single 150 toes, checking people’s faces and day-to-day routines. Cell law enforcement checkpoints popped up at random during the location, primary to prolonged lines on general public streets. At the checkpoints, and in some cases randomly on the avenue, police officers stopped men and women to talk to for their ID cards and from time to time demanded to plug unidentified electronic units into cellphones to scan them without rationalization.
What is the back again tale?
Beijing’s crackdown on Xinjiang echoes a longtime paranoia about the frontier location and a deep suspicion of its non-Han inhabitants amongst China’s rulers, which have historically resulted in oppression and rise up.
When Chinese armies rampaged by what is now Xinjiang and managed pieces of it for generations, the modern-day administrative unit only dates to the mid-nineteenth century, a actuality hinted at by its title, which interprets as “new frontier” in Chinese.
In the 1930s and 40s, Xinjiang professional transient intervals of partial independence, when two breakaway East Turkestan Republics had been declared and quickly set down.
Currently, Uyghur activists pushing for Xinjiang to grow to be a different country nevertheless get in touch with it “East Turkestan.”
Above the earlier decade, the Chinese government has tightened its grip on the area, subsequent incidents of violent ethnic unrest. The turning issue came in 2009, when ethnic riots rampaged by means of Urumqi, the regional capital, killing at minimum 197 folks.
Beijing has blamed Islamist militants and separatists for the violent attacks. But Uyghur activists and legal rights teams declare that Beijing’s repression of spiritual liberty and unfair ethnic policies is at the root of the conflicts.
Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang have prolonged complained of discrimination in employment and instruction, and corruption is rife in condition-managed industries that continue on to dominate the nearby financial system.
In 2014, Ilham Tohti, a Beijing-dependent economics professor who was regarded a person of the foremost reasonable Chinese voices on Xinjiang, was jailed for lifestyle for “separatism” and spreading “ethnic hatred.”
CNN’s Ivan Watson, Matt Rivers and Kevin Liptak contributed to reporting.