Clues to scale of Xinjiang labour operation emerge as China defends camps

Clues to scale of Xinjiang labour operation emerge as China defends camps

Beijing white paper says an average of 1.29 million workers a year have gone through ‘vocational training’ between 2014 and 2019

The Chinese Communist party government has defended its system of internment camps for Uighur and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, in a white paper that also revealed some details of the breadth of its labour program.

In the document published on Thursday, Beijing called them “vocational training centres” , saying: “Through its proactive labor and employment policies, Xinjiang has continuously improved the people’s material and cultural lives, and guaranteed and developed their human rights in every field.”

Figures included in the report hinted at the scope of the program. It said an average of 1.29 million workers, including 415,400 from southern Xinjiang, had gone through “vocational training” ever year between 2014 and 2019, although it didn’t clarify if – or how many times – people had gone through the camps.

Adrian Zenz, an academic and author focusing on Xinjiang, said the number instead “gives us a possible scope of coercive labor through the centralized, militarized training of rural surplus laborers”.