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New reports about the appalling situation in the camps in Xinjiang are constantly surfacing. Yesterday, an international media network published new, explosive material. It includes thousands of prisoner photos and authentic footage from the prisons, as well as details of shoot orders and torture tools. The leak also proves: The operation of these camps is directed from Beijing and not an idea of local cadres, writes Marcel Grzanna.
This was followed by an outcry from concerned German politicians: Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock demanded that China clarify these “most severe human rights violations”. Germany’s Minister of Finance Christian Lindner urged to address the CCP more directly on human rights violations.
But is that enough? While the former Merkel governments boasted about seriously “addressing” the problems behind the scenes, construction of these camps was just getting started at the time. For all we know, an entire population group is now under total surveillance in Xinjiang, with large numbers forced into camps for re-education. The Uyghurs are no longer allowed to be Uyghurs, that is the idea of the leaders in Beijing. The admonishing words of Western politicians have not stopped them from putting their plans into motion.
Apart from diplomacy, there are other efforts to enforce human rights. But even the planned supply chain laws will have little effect. Chinese solar companies have begun to move their production to regions outside Xinjiang. This would make exports and international supply chains seem spotless. However, experts say that solar manufacturers will continue to rely on primary products from Xinjiang for the domestic market, which are reportedly manufactured by Uyghur forced laborers.
The German economy’s great dependence on China is “particularly depressing” against the backdrop of human rights violations in Xinjiang, says Christian Lindner. What is at least equally depressing is how late German policymakers have begun to rethink their China position. An early reduction of dependence might have dampened some DAX company’s billion-dollar profits in the short term. But in the long term, it would have prevented some of the dependency that has now become an economic and geopolitical burden from arising in the first place.
New documents from Xinjiang incriminate Chinese government
To mark the visit of UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, the Chinese hosts came up with a particularly subtle gift. Foreign Minister Wang Yi presented Bachelet with an English copy of Head of State Xi Jinping’s “Respecting and Protecting Human Rights” – a collection of speeches and essays by the Party leader. The media-staged handover, which the foreign office boldly broadcast to the world via social media, received a highly cynical footnote just a few hours later.
Bachelet barely had a chance to browse through the book when a consortium of 14 international media from 11 countries, including the German news magazine Der Spiegel and Bayerischer Rundfunk, published the results of weeks of research dubbed the Xinjiang Police Files. Thousands of photos, confidential documents and extensive data sets provide new evidence of the brutal actions of Chinese authorities against Muslim Uyghurs in the autonomous region of Xinjiang.
The files shed light on the criminalization and torture of Uyghurs in internment camps. They expose the Chinese portrayal of these camps as training centers where people would voluntarily attend as false. Photographs show detainees walking handcuffed and shackled through the corridors of a camp. In addition, speeches by high-ranking politicians from the State Council and the province, classified as confidential, reveal the direct involvement of China’s closest leadership circle in the construction of a system of re-education enforced by force of arms and persistent violations of human rights.