China plans to send Uygur Muslims from Xinjiang re-education camps to work in other parts of country

China plans to send Uygur Muslims from Xinjiang re-education camps to work in other parts of country

  • Inmates who have undergone compulsory re-education programme to be moved to other parts of China under job placement scheme delayed by Covid-19 outbreak
  • Critics have said the camps are a move to eradicate cultural and religious identity but Beijing has defended them as way of boosting job opportunities and combating Islamic radicalisation

The Chinese government has resumed a job placement scheme for tens of thousands of Uygur Muslims who have completed compulsory programmes at the “re-education” camps in the far-western region of Xinjiang, sources said.

The plan, which includes a quota for the numbers provinces must take, was finalised last year but disrupted by the outbreak of Covid-19.

The delay threatens to undermine the Chinese government’s efforts to justify its use of internment camps in Xinjiang.

Critics have said these camps were part of the measures designed to eradicate the ethnic and cultural identity of Uygurs and other Muslim minorities and that participants had no choice but to undertake the re-education programme.

Beijing has repeatedly dismissed these criticisms and said the camps are to give Uygurs the training they need to find better jobs and stay away from the influence of radical fundamentalism.

Now with the disease under control, the Chinese government has resumed the job placement deal for other provinces to absorb Xinjiang labourers, sources said.Despite the devastating impact of the disease on its economy and job markets, the Chinese authorities are determined to go ahead with the plan, which they believe would “demonstrate the success of Xinjiang’s re-education centres policy”, a source said.

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Illustration by Perry Tse
Illustration by Perry Tse

Illustration by Perry Tse

The Chinese government has resumed a job placement scheme for tens of thousands of Uygur Muslims who have completed compulsory programmes at the “re-education” camps in the far-western region of Xinjiang, sources said.

The plan, which includes a quota for the numbers provinces must take, was finalised last year but disrupted by the outbreak of Covid-19.

The delay threatens to undermine the Chinese government’s efforts to justify its use of internment camps in Xinjiang.

Critics have said these camps were part of the measures designed to eradicate the ethnic and cultural identity of Uygurs and other Muslim minorities and that participants had no choice but to undertake the re-education programme.

Beijing has repeatedly dismissed these criticisms and said the camps are to give Uygurs the training they need to find better jobs and stay away from the influence of radical fundamentalism.

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Now with the disease under control, the Chinese government has resumed the job placement deal for other provinces to absorb Xinjiang labourers, sources said.Despite the devastating impact of the disease on its economy and job markets, the Chinese authorities are determined to go ahead with the plan, which they believe would “demonstrate the success of Xinjiang’s re-education centres policy”, a source said.SCMP GLOBAL IMPACT NEWSLETTERUncover the most important stories from China that affect the worldSIGN UP NOWBy registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

“Excellent graduates were to be taken on as labourers by various inland governments, in particular, 19 provinces and municipalities,” said the source. It is unclear what constitutes “excellent graduates”.

Some sources earlier said that the programme may be scaled back in light of the new economic reality and uncertainties.

But a Beijing-based source said the overall targets would remain unchanged.