China defends its ‘vocational training centres’ in Xinjiang white paper

China defends its ‘vocational training centres’ in Xinjiang white paper

  • Observers say figure in State Council white paper could be first time Beijing has ‘indirectly acknowledged’ the scale of internment camps
  • It claims regional government organised ‘employment-oriented training’ and labour skills for that number of workers every year from 2014 to 2019

China released a white paper on Thursday claiming that its far western Xinjiang region has provided “vocational training” to nearly 1.3 million workers every year on average from 2014 to 2019.

It comes as Beijing is facing mounting criticism from Western countries and human rights groups over its policies in the region, where it is believed to have detained at least 1 million Uygurs and other ethnic Muslim minorities in internment camps.

China has been accused of subjecting detainees to political indoctrination and forced labour in the camps, but it has denied the allegations and insisted they are “vocational training centres” where people learn language and job skills.

Observers said the white paper from the State Council, China’s cabinet, could be the first time the authorities had “indirectly” confirmed the scale of the camps.