Audrey Tang says Chinese region is a reminder of the value of liberal democracy
TOKYO — China is using new technology to turn its western region of Xinjiang into a model for a fully authoritarian surveillance state, Taiwan’s digital minister said on Monday.
“We have seen that previous attempts at totalitarian government were at most sub-totalitarian because there were no sufficient technologies to ensure the total tracking of people,” Audrey Tang told reporters in Tokyo in an online news conference. “Now in places like Xinjiang we are seeing a prototype of a truly totalitarian surveillance regime is being worked on.”
The once Muslim-majority region is part of the ongoing feud between Washington and Beijing, with the U.S. Commerce Department last week slapping sanctions on 11 more companies that it said were linked to alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang. Chinese officials slammed the move, calling it a “blatant hegemonic act.”
A February report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute estimated that more than 80,000 Uighurs were moved out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, with some being sent directly from detention camps. According to the report, the workers are subjected to intimidation and threats, and are constantly monitored by security personnel and digital surveillance tools.