Launch Al Jazeera on Thursday (9/24/2020), the expansion of the network of detention centers in Xinjiang came at a time when Beijing was also about to halt its “re-education” program for ethnic Uighur, which has been criticized internationally.
The new research was released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on Thursday (9/24/2020).
It noted in the study that it had identified more than 380 “suspected detention facilities” in the Xinjiang region.
The UN has previously said more than 1 million Uighurs and the mostly Muslim Turkish-speaking population in Xinjiang have been detained in recent years.
China says the facility is a central vocational skills training camp and an important part of efforts to counter the threat of “extremism”.
Based on ASPI’s research, the number of these facilities is about 40 percent higher than previously estimated.
“The findings of this study contradict claims by Chinese officials that all ‘trainees’ from vocational skills training centers have ‘passed’ by the end of 2019,” wrote ASPI lead researcher Nathan Ruser.
“On the contrary, the available evidence suggests that many extrajudicial detainees are now being formally charged and locked up in higher security facilities,” he continued.
Researchers used satellite imagery, witness accounts, media reports, and official construction tender documents, to classify the detention facilities into 4 levels depending on the presence of security features, such as high perimeter walls, watchtowers and internal fences.
At least 61 detention sites were found, which saw new construction work and expansion in the year to July 2020.
There are 14 more facilities still under construction, while about 70 have removed the fence or perimeter walls, indicating their use has changed or been closed, ASPI added.
It is noted that more than 90 percent of the sites are low level security facilities.
The detention facilities data is part of the Xinjiang Data Project, which includes details, not only about the network of detention facilities, which create 3D animated models, but also cultural sites in the region such as mosques.
Ruser noted that many of the centers that have expanded are facilities of higher security.
Meanwhile, other facilities were built close to industrial areas. Indicates that those who have been indicted may also have been sent to “the walled factory complex for work.” forced labor“.
Politicians in the United States recently voted to ban imports from Xinjiang, citing the alleged systematic use of forced labor.
Beijing recently published a white paper defending its policies in the semi-autonomous region, where it said training programs, employment schemes and better education meant life had improved.
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Separately on Thursday (24/9/2020), The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, reports that 2 Australian scholars Clive Hamilton and Alex Joske have been barred from entering China.
Hamilton is a professor at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, while Alex Joske is an analyst at ASPI who specializes in the Chinese military and the international influence of the Communist Party.
Joske, who grew up in China, said in a statement that he had not applied for a Chinese visa in years because the risks were too high.
He added that the entry ban was “the latest in a series of attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to punish those who highlight its activities”.
The Global Times, who quoted an unnamed source for the story, did not explain the reasons for the action.
Meanwhile earlier this month, Australia canceled the visas of 2 Chinese academics due to ongoing investigations into foreign interference.