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Criticism of the re-education camps in Xinjiang has become louder and louder. So loud, in fact, that the provincial governor Erkin Tuniyaz called off his planned trip to Europe on short notice. Now the central government in Beijing is changing its strategy in Xinjiang, as Marcel Grzanna points out in his analysis: Instead of detaining people in camps, they are simply sentenced to prison.
What may sound like an improvement for the Uyghurs turns out to be a cynical adjustment of cruel repression. Any international objections to prison sentences are easier to justify by referring to local legislation. The repressions do not abate, they simply don a new guise.
The high-tech company Huawei is also developing a new strategy. Severely affected by increasing US sanctions, the network supplier from Shenzhen has found a new business field: the automotive sector. Here, it also has its sights set on German manufacturers. In any case, company CEO Yu Chengdong is once again bursting with self-confidence: Those who do not cooperate with the tech giant run the risk of going under.
Christian Domke-Seidel that not everything is going according to plan, however. Wang Jun, head of the automotive branch and the self-driving car product division at Huawei, already had to resign from his post.
New Xinjiang strategy: prison instead of re-education
The number of Uyghur detained in the re-education camps in Xinjiang has apparently decreased drastically. Investigations by Xinjiang researchers suggest that only a few tens of thousands of people may still be detained in these camps. However, the number of legally convicted prisoners in local prisons has simultaneously climbed dramatically to several hundred thousand.
“We can say with a fair degree of certainty that most of the people who were in the camps are out by now,” says anthropologist Rune Steenberg from the Czech University of Olomouc. “The camps have served their purpose. The experiences in the facilities have intimidated these people. They now hover over their heads like a constant threat,” says Steenberg.
Intellectuals and economic elite affected
Steenberg estimates the number of individuals who have been sentenced to disproportionately long prison terms to be as high as 300,000. Those who are serving prison sentences most likely do so for exaggerated reasons that would not have been considered valid grounds for imprisonment in democratic states – including China until a few years ago, according to Steenberg.
- Human Rights
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