Uyghurs and China: The Facts

RH, Corcaigh

Who are the Uyghurs?

The Uyghurs (or Uighurs) are one of China’s 50+ recognised ethnic minorities. They are considered to be native to the autonomous region of Xinjiang. 

The Uyghur population of Xinjiang is approximately 12 million, going by official Chinese state statistics. In the Xinjiang region, Uyghurs comprise nearly half of the population. Uyghurs in Xinjiang are predominantly of Sunni Muslim faith.

Uyghurs are a distinct ethnic group and so they receive special assistance and programs from the Chinese government focused on preserving their culture

There is a large reference collection of links where you can read more about Xinjiang here.

What are the claims?

The claims surrounding China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims have been circulating since early 2018, some since 2015/16 and began to gain credence on the world stage around August of 2018 through publications such as NBC, Amnesty International, BBC, CNN, NYT, etc. The claim of human rights abuses in Xinjiang are upheld by Australia, Bahrain, France, New Zealand, many of them NATO members. 

The claims frequently reference ‘concentration camps’, an undoubtedly charged term. 

It is claimed that at certain locations between 1 million and 6 million Uyghurs are being detained and force fed pork and alcohol, being forced to renounce their faith, etc. These claims of human rights abuses are not to be taken lightly, but must be examined. 

The sole source of these claims is German anthropologist and Sinologist, Adrian Zenz. Zenz, and his credibility will be revisited.

What validity do the claims hold?

The claims fail to hold up under scrutiny: one reason for that is their only primary source is Adrian Zenz.

To begin, the claim surrounding forcing Uyghurs to denounce Islam by drinking alcohol is baseless. Uyghurs have a rich history of wine making in Xinjiang.
A fresco showing ancient wine makers, exhibited in the Turpan Museum, Xinjiang. The area is known to have been producing sweet wine since the 4th century BC, thanks to trade with the ancient Greek, who brought vines and irrigation techniques that allowed them to take advantage of the ample sunshine in the summer. To this day, Xinjiang is the largest area for wine production in China in terms of land surface.

Read more about this here.

Many Muslim countries have visited the centres and have praised China’s efforts in deradicalising and integrating religious extremists. This includes Syria, where many members of East Turkestan Islamic Movement aided terrorist cells. They also issued a letter of support for the deradicalisation efforts in the region. Click here to read the letter.

It seems those who have in fact visited have nothing but praise for the efforts, while those (such as the EU and the UN) who have declined various invitations from China, can only peddle second-hand lies.

Claims of forced sterilisation since 2015 are also unsubstantiated. The Statistical Bureau of the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region actually reports a 25% increase in the Uyghur population of the area between 2010-2018. If that’s not enough you can read an in depth debunking of the sterilisation claims HERE.

The claims of over one million Uyghurs being detained was mentioned only ONCE in a report to the UN committee on the elimination of Racial Discrimination. This report was compiled based on the interviews of eight people. A spokesperson for the OHCHR confirmed that the report didn’t actually reflect any findings of the United Nations, and lacked evidence, hence why they did not proceed with it.

Let’s follow the money here, this report was submitted by “Chinese Human Rights Defenders”, a group that received almost ⅔ of it’s funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and over 90% of its funding from US government grants. The National Endowment for Democracy is significantly funded by the United States of America, hence the overlap.

Adrian Zenz, a pro-life Christian fundamentalist, demonstrates poor understanding of birth control and family planning despite being quick to demonise both. His report includes a dangerously misleading claim on page 14 about the very form of birth control he is describing. Bayer itself does not recommend Mirena users attempt to remove the device at home because of the associated health risks. Indeed, regarding the strings themselves, many patients request to have them trimmed for comfort at their post-insertion checkup. Moreover, an IUD can be and is surgically removed only if malpositioned or if it is perforating the uterus. While rare, such cases are extremely serious and require trained medical practitioners, as the IUD can embed itself in the bladder wall. To suggest that these cases should be dealt with by laymen is not only unethical, but a real health risk.

What are they, if not concentration camps?

They’re pretty average detention centres. 

Chinese authorities have maintained transparency regarding these claims and the truth behind them. They are officially known as vocational skills education centres. The centres teach vocational job skills, aim to improve proficiency in Mandarin Chinese, and de-radicalise those affiliated to terrorist movements, and generally they visit home 1-2 times a week. 

The teaching of skills and Mandarin Chinese is an effort to reduce poverty in the region, and currently the poverty rate sits at an astonishingly low 1.2%. Here’s a YouTube video about China’s approach to poverty.

Authorities assert that they are what one would call deradicalisation centres. Those who are detained in these centres are mostly current (or former) members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a jihad organisation most active in Xinjiang. These centres are set up to deradicalise those involved in extremist or seperatist movements. Islam itself is in no way criminalised in China, Islam is constitutionally protected in China.

 Generally speaking, the effort to deradicalise rather than murder or permanently imprison those who are involved in terrorism is a very new concept, one that should be welcomed. The goal is to reintegrate offenders rather than lock them up for their entire lives.

Chinese authorities invited representatives of the United Nations and the European Union to visit the region, and the vocation centres, yet they declined. Many Uyghurs joined terrorist cells in Syria, and now that ISIS’s power is collapsing many Uyghurs are returning home radicalised. Read an interview from former extremists who attended the vocational centres here.

Who are the East Turkestan Islamic Movement?

The ETIM are a very important group to be well understood in this conversation. 

The original name is the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, then changed to East Turkestan Islamic Party, and then after even further expansion of activities, to The Turkestan Islamic Party. In this document, they will be referred to only as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM for short.

The ETIM is a seperatist group founded by Uyghur jihadists in China. Their allies include Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They are widely regarded as a terrorist movement by authorities such as the UN Security Council Al Qaida sanctions committee, Turkey, The UK, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Malaysia, and several others.

The self-described aim of the ETIM is to establish an independent Islamic state called East Turkestan in the province of Xinjiang, and ultimately all of China.

A report from 2002 labels the ETIM as being responsible for over 162 deaths, 400+ injuries, spread across 200+ individual terrorist incidents.  Read more about the ETIM here.

Why does the ETIM matter?

These vocational centres are established with the primary aim of deradicalising members of the ETIM and other religious extremists.

 Members of the ETIM are predominantly Uyghur but it would be incorrect to say only Uyghurs join the ETIM. The ETIM comprises various ethnicities, though an exact breakdown is not available seeing as they are terrorists and probably not up to date on efficient admin activities.

 The ETIM have assisted the terrorist group Al- Qaeda and also received training and funding from them.

 Seeing as the seperatist group have committed several grievous terrorist incidents in the Xinjiang province, it stands to reason that the Chinese government is taking action to combat religious extremism. 

Who is Adrian Zenz?

Zenz is a German anthropologist, Sinologist, and born-again Christian. 

He works for the Victims Of Communism Foundation(VOC), which was founded by American Nazi sympathisers (source) VOC is based in Washington DC, it’s fair to say it’s a glorified far right think tank. Zenz is a rabid homophobe and anti-Semite. (Zenz antisemitism in his book)

Zenz has also compared homosexuality and anti-capitalism to the coming of the anti Christ. 

Two of the individuals cited by Zenz are proven liars

Zenz has claimed he is on a mission from God to destroy China and is overall an unreliable source. You can read more about him here.

Despite coasting by based on his position as senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, wearing its ideology on its sleeve, Zenz neither speaks nor reads Chinese and relies on translators. He works at the Evangelical theological institution Akademie für Weltmission and has credited God for his recent interest in China.

Is Victims of Communism that bad?

Yeah, they’re that bad.

This is them trying to blame the coronavirus on communism

More about why they’re unreliable and downright outrageous

It was literally founded by fascist sympathisers 

What about the World Uyghur Congress?

Not everything I don’t like is CIA propaganda, but this sure as shit is! 

Exhibit A: National Endowment for Democracy records on their donations to the World Uyghur Congress

Exhibit B: World Uyghur Congress thanks the National Endowment for Democracy for their donations

Exhibit C: National Endowment for Democracy links to the CIA

But I saw that China are demolishing mosques so that Uyghur Muslims can’t worship, how do you explain that?

  1. Mosques in Xinjiang
  2. Yet another one
  3. Western publication praising China’s history of female-led mosques 
  4. And there’s more!

Well maybe it wasn’t on purpose, maybe the USA just cares about human rights!

Sure, that’s a possibility but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, 

I don’t think that is their motivation.

In case you don’t feel like clicking, that’s a few sources on American war crimes and atrocities.

Then what’s the motivation to have lied about all this? 

Xinjiang is a very lucrative region. It contains oil, copper, lithium, nickel, and gold stores among other natural resources. (source)

 This narrative of concentration camps would provide some pretty comprehensive justification to heavily sanction or even invade the region to access these resources. In fact, sanctions are already being imposed supported by your favourite #girlboss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Tensions between China and the USA are at an all-time high: the new Cold War is here and it is mounting. Read more on that here.

The Chinese Yen is overtaking the dollar in value and the US perceives this as a threat to its position as a world power. Xinjiang is an important region for another reason, too: it’s vital to the country’s Belt and Road initiative which aims to circumvent unfavourable trading conditions between nations in the Global South and their former or present colonisers. It allows nation’s in the Global South to develop economically and encourage and support trade between China, Africa, Central and Western Asia, and Europe. Cutting off a key part of the Belt and Road initiative would cripple China and continue to have developing nations crippled by neocolonialism through unfair trade practices. More on that here.

The USA has many reasons to attempt to destroy China, and they want you to cheer them on while they do it.

Perhaps the WMDs incident might enlighten us as to how successfully the US has lied about similar events in the past to justify military intervention. If you’re not sure what “Iraq has WMDs” references, why it matters, and how the fabrication took place, I’d encourage you to read more about it:


HERE , and


The USA are liars with a profit motive and we’ve seen how good they are. Don’t fall for it.

I shared something on social media that I now realise was misinformation, what should I do?

Many of us may have unwittingly taken part, since the propaganda efforts surrounding Xinjiang are pervasive and successfully appeal to emotion, without any evidence. It’s easy to feel bad after realising you spread misinformation but it’s even better to reverse any damage you may have caused. The first thing you should do is to do your own research and this shouldn’t be the only document you read on the topic.

Next, you can share correct sources. There’s a multitude within this document and no doubt you’ll find more yourself. Correct your position in as public a manner as you initially spread an incorrect one.

Last, but not least, call it out. See a false infographic on Instagram citing bad information? Call it out! Have your sources ready and be willing to have a long conversation with a lot of hostile individuals. Call out your friends too, that probably matters even more.

It is clear, now more than ever that we live in a world rife with misinformation. Misinformation is not an accident, it is a weapon wielded very effectively by imperialists to continue to destroy countries that are proving that there is a system beyond Capitalism. They rely not only on hard power, but on soft power, too, to reach their goals.


NED donation to world Uyghur conference

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