Civil Society Submission to UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – July 2018

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Civil Society Report

Submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for its Review at the 96th Session of the combined fourteenth to seventeenth periodic report of the People’s Republic of China on its Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

July 2018


Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) is a coalition of Chinese and international human rights non-governmental organizations. The network is dedicated to the promotion of human rights through peaceful efforts to push for democratic and rule of law reforms and to strengthen grassroots activism in China.

Equal Rights Initiative is a China-based NGO monitoring rights development in Western China. For the protection and security of its staff, specific identification information has been withheld.

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Table of Contents

I. Executive Summary                                                                                                                            Paras. 1-2

II. Recommendations                                                                                                                            Para. 3

III. Thematic Issues & Findings

A. Legislation underpinning discriminatory counter-terrorism policies                                   Paras. 4-7

[Articles 2 (c) and 4; List of Themes para. 8]

B. Militarized policing, invasive surveillance, and constant monitoring                                   Paras. 8-21

[Articles 3, 4, and 5 (a-b); LOT para. 22]

C. Extrajudicial detention, forced disappearances, torture, and other abuses                         Paras. 22-28
in “Re-education” camps

[Article 5 (a)(b)(d); LOT para. 21]

D. Counter-terrorism used to justify arbitrary detention and discriminatory                          Paras. 29-34
punishment of ethnic minorities

[Articles 4 and 5 (a)(b)(d); LOT paras. 6 and 21]

E. Discrimination and restrictions on religious freedom                                                              Paras. 35-41

[Article 5 (d); LOT para. 27]

F. Discrimination against ethnic minority language and bilingual education                         Paras. 42-45

[Article 5 (e); LOT para. 17]

G. Employment discrimination                                                                                                          Paras. 46-50

[Article 5 (e); LOT para. 18]

H. Discrimination against ethnic minority migrant workers                                                       Paras. 51-55

[Articles 2 and 5 (a); LOT para. 15]

I. Executive Summary

  1. Discrimination in law, policies, and practice, in the People’s Republic of China against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), particularly the ethnic Uyghur population, has worsened since the previous CERD review in 2009.[1] In reaction to the riots in Urumqi in 2009, ethnic clashes in 2015, and sporadic terrorist attacks, the Chinese government has subjected ethnic minorities in Xinjiang to systemic discrimination in many facets of life. The government has implemented militarized security measures, invasive policing, and community surveillance, including through “big data analytics”; forced hundreds of thousands of people into “re-education” camps; and drastically restricted ethnic language, culture, and religion. The Chinese government has implemented strict and stringent monitoring, control, and punishment, indiscriminately targeting ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, all under the pretext of “anti-terror, de-extremism, and counter-separatism” policies.[2]
  2. These discriminatory security measures in Xinjiang are dictated from the top: Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary and the Chinese President Xi Jinping declared in May 2014 that the government would embark on a nationwide counter-terrorism campaign, but largely focused on China’s western regions. Xi Jinping stated that China must “construct walls built with copper and iron, knit nets reaching the heavens and earth” by “strongly boosting police readiness through mass surveillance and mass management” in order to “harshly battle against violent terrorist activities.”[3] Regional stability and State control in Xinjiang is critically important for the success of Xi’s “Belt Road Initiative,” for which the XUAR is the primary land route for trade and investment in Central and South Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.[4] Construction of a pervasive security infrastructure in Xinjiang, which began as early as 2009, has greatly accelerated since 2016, after Xi appointed Chen Quanguo as the new Communist Party Secretary for the region.[5]

II. Recommendations

  1. The Chinese government must fully comply with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by taking the following steps:


  • Substantially revise legislation, including the National Security Law, 9th Amendments to the Criminal Law, Counter-Terrorism Law, and Cyber-Security Law, in order to ensure that ethnic minority rights are protected, in compliance with the Convention;
  • Remove any provision in the Counter-Terrorism Law and related laws and regulations adopted by the XUAR government which permit “de-radicalization” “re-education” of ethnic populations in the region, and which have led to the enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Kazaks, and other ethnic minorities without due process;


  • Ensure police checkpoints, foot patrols, or other police operations do not discriminatorily target ethnic minorities, and hold legally responsible any public security personnel who discriminates against ethnic minorities in such operations;
  • End data collection that invades privacy and has been used to classify or identify citizens based on their ethnic background or religious practice for purposes of surveillance, monitoring, and depriving ethnic minorities of their freedom of movement;
  • End any government “security” programs that identify citizens based on their ethnic, religious, or political background, including those that offer financial incentives for individuals to provide information on ethnic minorities to authorities;


  • End arbitrary detention of ethnic minorities in “de-radicalization” “re-education” camps and involuntary attendance in “re-education” programs;
  • Allow for independent monitors into the XUAR to inspect “re-education” camps, including granting access to current and past detainees;
  • Establish an independent mechanism to investigate torture and other forms of ill-treatment in “re-education” camps, including reported deaths in detention, with the aim to hold to account those State agents who are criminally responsible;

Criminal Prosecution

  • Ensure judicial review and protection of due process rights of defendants prosecuted for “national security,” “terrorism,” or “separatism” crimes, including the right to legal counsel of their choice, timely notification of families according to the law, and fair and public trials by an independent court;
  • End the interference of political bodies in the judicial process of criminal cases, particularly by the extrajudicial bodies known as Politics and Law Committees;

Religious Discrimination

  • Take into account the intersectionality between ethnicity and religion and ensure respect for the right of members of all ethnic groups to freely enjoy freedom of religion, in part by revising the amended Religious Affairs Regulations to remove provisions which allow for State interference in religious groups;
  • Lift bans and restrictions on basic forms of Islamic expression and practice in the XUAR, such as measures concerning clothing, religious names, facial hair, and diet, and end disruptions to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and government control over religious pilgrimages;
  • Stop the demolition of mosques in the XUAR, and provide funding to facilitate the rebuilding of religious building destroyed by government authorities or on government orders;

Education Discrimination

  • Lift restrictions that marginalize the Uyghur language in “bilingual education” in the State educational system, thus helping ensure that Uyghur students can attain and maintain proficiency in their native language;
  • Provide protection for all Muslims, particularly Uyghur youth and imams, to obtain religious education as part of their Islamic cultural and ethnic identity, without political interference and State control;

Employment Discrimination

  • Ensure any company or government agency that places discriminatory job advertisements is held legally accountable, including by paying fines, and take other concrete measures to combat prevailing stereotypes concerning all ethnic minorities;
  • Abolish the household residency system (hukou) and ensure that internal migrants, in particular members of ethnic minorities, are able to enjoy the same work, social security, health and education benefits as long-time urban residents;
  • End informal security restrictions that restrict ethnic minority residents of the XUAR from migrating to different parts of the region or country, thus ensuring they are able to compete for jobs on an equal status as the Han majority. 

III. Thematic Issues & Findings

A. Legislation underpinning discriminatory counter-terrorism policies [Articles 2 (c) and 4; List of Themes para. 8]

  1. In its State report, the Chinese government cited new legislation as “guarantee[ing] equality for the rights and interests of all ethnic groups.”[6] However, much of the recently introduced security-focused legislation contains broad provisions for widespread, State-sponsored discrimination against ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, in the name of “counter-terrorism.” The XUAR government has supplemented national laws with discriminatory local regulations that target Muslims.
  2. Security in Xinjiang has been high on the State’s agenda since the 2009 Urumqi unrest. Following the change in political leadership in 2012, in order to achieve greater control over ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, the government has introduced new laws and regulations or amended existing ones in the past several years, including:
  • National Security Law (2015)[7] – This law introduced the first mention of “extremism” in a national law in China and created an expansive definition of “endangering national security,” the implementation of which would infringe on the rights to free expression, assembly, and association. The UN High Commissioner has expressed deep concern over the law, calling it vague and overbroad[8];
  • 9th Amendments to the Criminal Law (2015)[9] – The amendments added six new crimes related to counter-terrorism and counter-extremism, including prohibitions on religious clothing, books, and audio-visual materials that “propagate terrorism,” criminalizing religious expression and practice;
  • Counter-Terrorism Law (2016)[10] – As the first law in China to define terrorism and extremism, it underpins legislative efforts to control ethnic minorities in Xinjiang with overbroad language prohibiting religious clothing and “extreme” or “distorted” teachings. Article 29 of this national law legitimizes the de-radicalization “re-education” camps (see section C);
  • Cyber-Security Law (2017)[11] – This law allows authorities to shut down the Internet in entire areas under the pretext of “protecting national security.” It can be used to restrict open communications and access to information in “restive” locations such as the XUAR;
  • Religious Affairs Regulations (amended 2018)[12] – The regulations expand government and CCP control into all facets of religious life, and criminalizes basic religious practices and rites of Muslims in Xinjiang (see section E)
  1. The XUAR government’s implementing measures for the Counter-Terrorism Law, which took effect in 2016, are even broader and include additional explicitly discriminatory provisions.[13] The provisions heavily focused on aspects of Islam, discriminating against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.[14] The measures grant authorities vastly expanded police power over information disseminated over the Internet and prohibit “encouraging minors” from participating in religious activities, supplementing existing bans on behavior and conduct spelled out on an official list of 75 so-called “signs” of extremism.[15]
  2. The XUAR government took a step further in April 2017 in introducing De-Extremism Regulations, the first comprehensive regulations specifically on countering extremism.[16] Under these regulations, possessing certain halal products, having a long beard, wearing a full-face headscarf, selecting “irregular names,” and refusing to watch State television or listen to State radio became grounds for detention in “re-education” camps (see section C). In October 2017, the XUAR government released regional regulations on cyber-security. The regulations included a 14-point list of banned contents from being accessed via the Internet, and again singled out Muslims.[17]

B. Militarized policing, invasive surveillance, and constant monitoring [Articles 3, 4, and 5 (a-b); LOT para. 22]

  1. In its State report, the government claimed, “China has been making unremitting efforts together with the international community to achieve ethnic equality and oppose racial segregation, ethnic oppression and discrimination.”[18] In reality, however, China has established a system of militarized policing and surveillance apparatus targeting ethnic minorities in Xinjiang which is invasive, oppressive, and discriminatory, amounting to a system of apartheid.
  2. Government authorities have put in place a militarized “vertical public security protection and control system” as part of the radical measures for implementing the national Counter-Terrorism Law. The system has placed all ethnic minority populations in Xinjiang under militarized surveillance, which has had the effect of terrorizing the population, restricting freedom of movement and expression, and encroaching on the rights to privacy of ethnic Uyghurs and other minorities. The militarized security apparatus in Xinjiang comprises densely deployed frontier police outposts, armed security patrols, and police checkpoints. The system is fortified by and deployed in combination with sophisticated security and surveillance measures, including a “grid-style social management system,” and through big data analytics.

Pervasive policing and omnipresent militarization

  1. Since 2014, Xinjiang authorities have set up many so-called “convenience for the people police stations” to perform numerous functions, including constant policing and frequent armed patrols in every neighborhood and village in the region. The construction of such outposts in Xinjiang is said to have begun as early as 2012,[19] and they have seemingly reached a level of sophistication and robustness surpassing those installed in other parts of China. Open 24 hours a day and located every 300 to 500 meters, these stations are used for police to conduct “fixed site duties, video surveillance, vehicle patrol, walking patrol, and plain-clothes patrol.” By September 2017, one report had estimated that authorities had already built 323 convenience police stations for every 100,000 residents in Xinjiang.[20] If those totals are correct, there may be over 70,000 such outposts in the region, based on population data from the 2010 census.[21]
  2. Efforts to bolster security forces in Xinjiang—roughly 85,000 new personnel were recruited from mid-2016 to mid-2017—are reportedly connected to deploying security forces to the newly constructed outposts.[22] Prior to 2016, foot patrols were mostly dispatched during sensitive anniversaries or in response to incidents that triggered heightened security alerts. In the past two years, however, such patrols have occurred daily in every location in Xinjiang that is heavily populated by ethnic Uyghurs and other minorities.[23]
  3. The police outposts also serve as checkpoints that selectively target ethnic Uyghurs and other minorities. According to our sources, Han Chinese are generally waved by, while police check and search ethnic minorities, especially Uyghurs.[24] Police scan their bags, inspect any electronic devices, check ID cards, and record ID information. The checkpoints are further barriers to the movement of ethnic minority residents in Xinjiang, in addition to security guards stationed at entrances to many buildings, including schools, hospitals, banks, shopping malls, and hotels.[25]
  4. Frequent “anti-terror” military exercises and parades conducted in Xinjiang in recent years demonstrate growing militarization and the State’s policy of terrorizing and controlling ethnic minority populations.[26]In the first half of 2014 alone, the Chinese military conducted 51 military exercises in Xinjiang with the theme of “anti-terror, guarding against violence, and responding to emergencies.”[27] Just weeks before the 19th Communist Party Congress in 2017, large-scale military exercises took place simultaneously in several cities in Xinjiang. More than ten thousand soldiers took part in these drills and used live ammunition.[28]

Government control through “grid-style social management”

  1. In the past few years, the government has developed a “grid-style social management” system in the XUAR, which targets ethnic minority communities for invasive surveillance. The system allows State security forces to closely monitor the population by dividing them into geometric zones for meticulous and “seamless” management and for easy access for political control.[29] Its infrastructure comprises an interconnected network of CCTV cameras, mobile Internet technologies, and big data analytics, in addition to policing and checkpoints as well as live-in cadres in local residencies, to monitor all individuals and activities in a village or neighborhood.[30] By 2014, the system had been implemented throughout Xinjiang.[31]
  2. A key component of “grid-style social management” system is the mandatary “10-Residence Joint Protection Unit.” Members in every 10 residences (or businesses), bundled into one unit, are required to surveil each other and report on neighbors to authorities, about any politically and socially “disruptive” behavior, such as gathering or expressing “incorrect” thoughts.[32] Any behavior that is profiled by the government as “extremist” should be reported,[33] including women wearing veils and young men with beards.[34] CCP members in each unit promote and implement these functions, taking the lead to handle matters such as security, emergencies, and propaganda priorities.[35] In addition, authorities offer Xinjiang residents substantial financial rewards in exchange for information on “two-faced” ethnic Uyghur Party members or officials, those who allegedly hold “extremist views” or are “disloyal” to the CCP.[36]
  3. The system also relies heavily on data collected by surveillance devices, from and about local residents, which authorities use to classify residents as “safe,” “normal,” and “unsafe” in terms of the perceived “security threat” they pose. Every Urumqi resident is required to fill out a form that asks for detailed personal information. Many questions on the form directly pertain to ethnicity, Islamic religious practice (e.g., religious training and frequency and location of prayers), or overseas engagement (e.g., passport possession, foreign contacts, and foreign countries visited).[37] Residents in each “10-residency joint protection unit” must conduct trainings and drills with security police to “help prevent potential terrorist attacks,” though local residents in fact view these “anti-terror” exercises as aimed at intimidating them.[38]

Surveillance through “big data analytics”

  1. Ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, are among those singled out by the government as targets of data collection, analysis, and action through big data analytics. Chinese authorities collect biological and personal information from citizens, and track individuals’ movements, social interactions, social media behavior, and business dealings through numerous channels. While such methods for surveillance have been used in various parts of China since at least the early 2000s,[39] the programs have an inordinate focus on Xinjiang. With the government’s accelerated pace in using big data in counter-terrorism operations, Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are discriminatory targets of such methods.
  2. One such big data platform is the “Police Cloud” system (a cloud-based data sharing platform used by police that gathers and can analyze over 150 types of data, including video surveillance footage).[40] The Police Cloud system in Xinjiang tracks and predicts the activities of Uyghurs, especially those from Southern Xinjiang, “people of certain ethnicities,” and those with “extreme thoughts.”[41]
  3. The “Sharp Eyes” program, in trial operations since 2016, is akin to the government’s “Skynet” surveillance camera system in Chinese cities, only “Sharp Eyes” extends surveillance to the county, township, and village levels. Chinese media reported that, by the end of 2017, the government had invested 26.03 billion RMB (nearly 3.9 billion USD) in 80 pilot “Sharp Eyes” projects, each costing more than 100 million RMB (approx. 15 million USD), that were installed around the country. Xinjiang had 30 of those projects, which reportedly involved about 55% of the total investment, or 14.36 billion RMB ( 2.14 billion USD).[42] The “Sharp Eyes” program gives members of the public direct access to the system to help monitor video information for “suspicious” behavior, with no privacy protections.[43] Over time, authorities could possibly expand the system directly into “smart” household electronic devices, such as televisions and phones,[44] to expand surveillance directly into people’s homes.[45] China’s State media reports that “Sharp Eyes” allows Party officials to have direct access to “every family’s home” in order to promote political education, popularize law and policy, and provide services.[46]
  4. Data is collected in Xinjiang with little regard for privacy concerns. Authorities have gathered information without permission, under false pretenses, or as a requirement for receiving government services. Communist Party, police, and government officials in the XUAR have collected digital images, fingerprints, and iris scans from people during home visits or at central collection points, often without the individuals’ permission. They have collected DNA and blood type data under the guise of health care programs, and have required individuals to supply biometric and other data before receiving public services, including enrolling in public schools, or taking care of “residential registration or hukou-related business.”[47] In addition, authorities reportedly required all citizens in Xinjiang to surrender their passports in 2016 and would require people to provide a DNA sample and other private information when they apply for a new passport.[48]

Monitoring by live-in CCP cadres in ethnic minorities households

21. Since 2014, the government has sent Party cadres to rural villages to live with ethnic minority (mostly Uyghur) families, a campaign that has strengthened the CCP’s political control in the region. The majority of the cadres have been placed in Uyghur homes in Southwestern Xinjiang, where 80% of Xinjiang’s Uyghur population resides and where several violent incidents occurred in recent years.[49] The cadres collect information about the families, supposedly finding out their needs and concerns in order to provide “poverty relief.” However, they also present intimate and direct censorship of their religious practices and political opinions. Cadres promote propaganda and try to instill in families “loyalty” to the CCP and the government. Since October 2016, the government has sent over one million cadres to “visit” Uyghur villagers for short periods of time, with the vast majority dispatched since December 2017, indicating an expansion of the operation.[50]

C. Extrajudicial detention, forced disappearances, torture, and other abuses in “Re-education” camps [Article 5 (a)(b)(d); LOT para. 21]

22. In the 2009 COB, the Committee recommended China use administrative detention “restrictively and subject to full judicial control in line with international human rights standards, and that these practices are not disproportionately applied to members of ethnic minorities.”[51] Since 2009, however, and particularly since early 2017, the Chinese government has detained a large number of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang in so-called “de-radicalization” “re-education” camps. The State has used detention to execute “patriotic” indoctrination and ideological conversion. The “re-education” campaign has involved the disappearance, extrajudicial detention, and mistreatment of many Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

  1. Based on interviews and limited data, we estimate that roughly one million members of ethnic Uyghurs have been sent to “re-education” detention camps and roughly two million have been forced to attend “re-education” programs in Xinjiang. The detainees’ due process rights have been violated and they have been held in facilities operated outside of China’s judicial system. Our estimated number of detainees in re-education camps does not take into account the numbers of other ethnic minorities.[52]
  2. Though Chinese officials have denied the existence of such camps, State media reported in 2015 that Xinjiang authorities had cited a government target of “re-educating” 30% of Xinjiang’s 11 million Uyghurs.[53]
  3. The government’s target for “re-education” are Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities who allegedly harbor “extremist” views, practice Islam, have travelled abroad, have relatives overseas, or for no discernible reason beyond their ethnicity. Male Uyghurs, roughly between the ages of 15 and 45, are the main targeted population for political “re-education.”[54] Through interviews conducted with Uyghurs, we also learned of detainees who had been sent to re-education camps after police at checkpoints found “banned” content on their cell phones. An elderly woman was reportedly sent to a re-education detention camp as a way to pressure her daughter to return from Malaysia.[55]
  4. We have identified several types of re-education programs. The detention camps are operated at the county/municipal level of government. Day/evening camps are operated at the township or village levels. Young adult males suspected by authorities as harboring “extremist” views or “disloyalty” to the country are likely to be detained for re-education at extrajudicial facilities at the county level or above. Among these detainees, those found to be “hardcore” “terrorists,” “separatists,” or “religious extremists,” may be transferred to criminal detention or imprisoned. Other Uyghurs, of different ages and gender, and for various reasons (or none stated), have been forced to attend re-education camps during the day or evening at township and village centers, where they are allowed to go home for sleep.
  5. In most cases, family members and friends of those who have been taken away to “re-education” detention camps have little information about the length or the location of the detention. Families are not allowed to visit them. In most cases, these detainees in re-education camps have essentially disappeared. Sometimes, families receive notices after the detainees had been transferred to criminal detention centers or sentenced to prison, or, in a few cases, only after a detainee has died in a camp. One media report said the detentions in re-education camps last between three months and two years.[56] A Uyghur man forced to return to his hometown in Southern Xinjiang from Urumqi has remained in a re-education camp since January 2015.[57]
  6. There have been several reports of deaths of detainees in the re-education detention facilities. In January 2018, an NGO reported the death of an 82-year-old Uyghur Islamic scholar and religious leader after he had been detained for re-education in Urumqi for about 40 days.[58] In March 2018, a Uyghur youth reportedly died two years after he was taken into a re-education camp, and soon after he had returned from a trip to Turkey.[59] An elderly Uyghur woman reportedly died due to health complications while being detained for re-education in Kazakh Prefecture.[60] A 65-year-old Uyghur businessman died nine months after he was put in a re-education camp, and his body reportedly showed signs of torture.[61]

D. Counter-terrorism used to justify arbitrary detention and discriminatory punishment of ethnic minorities [Articles 4 and 5 (a)(b)(d); LOT paras. 6 and 21]

  1. The government claimed in its State report that “All ethnic groups in the People’s Republic of China are equal, and all persons are equal before the law” and “Whoever violates Chinese criminal law or commits a criminal offence shall be investigated for criminal responsibility in accordance with the law, regardless of the ethnicity, race or religious belief of the person involved.”[62] However, under the pretext of “counter-terrorism,” “anti-separatism,” and “de-extremism” (the “counter-three evils” campaign), the Chinese government has drastically and swiftly increased the numbers of criminal detentions, arrests, and convictions of members of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang since 2009, further eroding any judicial review process and abrogating legal rights.
  2. According to Chinese government data, criminal arrests in Xinjiang accounted for 21% of all arrests in China in 2017, though the population in Xinjiang only accounts for approximately 1.5% of China’s total population (according to the 2010 Census).[63] The rate of arrests in Xinjiang has increased by 306% in the past five years, and of the total numbers arrested from 2013 to 2017, nearly 70% were arrested in 2017 alone.[64] As ethnic minorities account for nearly 60% the population of Xinjiang, such policies and practices likely overwhelmingly affect ethnic minorities, though the government does not break down the data by ethnicity.[65]
  3. While government authorities had in the past launched several “strike hard” campaigns, which increased criminal prosecutions,[66] they have more frequently staged such campaigns since the 2009 unrest, and large-scale arrests and expedited convictions of members of ethnic minority groups have become standard practice since 2014.[67] Authorities have operated according to the government-dictated rule of “strict, fast, heavy” punishment against “terrorist” or “separatist” suspects. China’s Ministry of Public Security, Supreme People’s Court, and Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued “Opinions” in September 2014 to instruct “strike hard” campaigns that target “violent terrorists” and “religious extremists.”[68] In June 2018, four top government judicial and law enforcement agencies issued another set of Opinions, providing guidance to prosecuting crimes related to terrorism and extremism.[69]
  4. During such campaigns, authorities have deprived detainees of the right to a fair trial, circumvented judicial procedures, shortened the time for investigation and judicial review, and mandated heavier prison sentences for crimes related to terrorism, violence, and separatism. One prominent victim of the sweeping net of “strike hard” operations is the Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, who taught economics at the National University of Ethnic Minorities in Beijing. Mr. Tohti is now serving a life sentence after being convicted of “separatism” in 2014. The government punished him for peaceful advocacy for the equal rights of ethnic Uyghurs through an online platform that he had founded.[70]
  5. According to lawyers interviewed for this submission, who have handled criminal cases in Xinjiang, ethnic minority detainees have even less protection of their legal rights than detainees of a Han background. Detainees in the XUAR are not allowed to plead “not guilty” in cases involving “terrorism” charges and are quickly sentenced to prison. Lawyers who protest against violations of their clients’ rights face the risk of being dismissed from the cases. The lawyers believe that many so-called “terrorist” cases in Xinjiang do not go through appropriate court procedures. For example, the verdicts have often been prepared before a trial took place, and the sentences were pre-decided by government or Party officials, not by a judge.
  6. Detainees’ family members whom we interviewed raised similar concerns about procedural and legal rights violations. The families indicated that they had not learned of the status of their loved one until after they had been transferred to prison. Even then, many had still not been told the full details on criminal charges or prison sentences. Before such a transfer, the families only knew that the suspect had been sent to a “re-education” camp or been criminally detained; the prosecution and court trials had been executed in secret.

E. Discrimination and restrictions on religious freedom [Article 5 (d); LOT para. 27]

35. Chinese laws and regulations continue to discriminate against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities who practice Islam. The Counter-Terrorism Law restricts religious expression of ethnic minorities, banning “religious extremism,” as it is a perceived basis for terrorism. Officially, the law is concerned with “distorted religious teachings or other means to incite hatred, or discrimination, or advocate violence.” In reality, however, its principal target is any Islamic teaching or practice, due to the State’s focus on suppressing Muslim minorities, particularly in Xinjiang. The amended “Regulations on Religious Affairs,” which took effect in February 2018, makes even more explicit the government’s aim to criminalize the religious practice of Uyghur Muslims.[71]

36. Under the XUAR’s Counter-Extremism Regulations (2017), authorities have labeled many basic aspects of Islamic faith as “extremist,” including the wearing of full-face coverings, selecting children’s names with “Islamic connotations,” and educating children at home.[72] Xinjiang authorities require that Muslims obtain official permission to practice Islam, including for performing rites of circumcision, traditional marriage ceremonies[73] and burials.[74] Various government rules have banned other Islamic symbols, including badges, signs, and souvenirs. Noncompliance with these rules is punishable by fines, administrative punishments, or criminal charges.[75]

37. In recent years, Xinjiang authorities have disrupted observance of Ramadan, heightening security measures and detaining Uyghurs for engaging in fasting or prayers.[76] During Ramadan, authorities forbid fasting for Party members, State employees, teachers, and students,[77] force restaurants and stores that sell alcohol to remain open,[78] and hold events to increase ‘‘stability maintenance,’’ such as mandatory sports activities or patriotic film sessions.[79] Local officials assign Party cadres to live in some Muslim residences during the holy month to ensure that families do not pray or fast.[80]

38. The government continues to tighten controls over mosques, regarding them as incubators for Islamic “extremism” and anti-Chinese sentiment. Authorities ordered thousands of mosques destroyed under a pretext of “mosque rectification” in 2017.[81] Mosques are under constant surveillance, and worshippers need permits to worship in them. In some parts of Xinjiang, authorities ban Muslims from praying at home or outside mosques and routinely shut down unauthorized “preaching sites.”[82] Authorities in Kashgar Prefecture have ordered mosques to fly the Chinese flag and patriotic banners.[83]

39. Authorities have also taken control of pilgrimages to Mecca (Hajj), limiting the number of trips, carefully screening and selecting pilgrims, and sending Party officials along to monitor activities.[84] According to Uyghurs interviewed for this submission, authorities restrict pilgrims to the elderly. Applicants for Hajj must meet strict “political reliability” measures set by authorities, take “patriotic education” classes, obtain approval from officials, and participate only through government-arranged tours.[85] They must undergo political “education” every day during the trip. Authorities have confiscated passports or detained returnees who tried to make the pilgrimage on their own.

40. The government has also restricted Muslims’ religious education. In 2016, the XUAR government adopted the revised “Regulations on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency,” which banned parents or guardians from “organizing, luring or forcing minors into attending religious activities,” and warned students “to resist ethnic separatism, extremist ideology and the infiltration of religion on campus.” Police can send minors who exhibit “serious misconduct” to “specialized schools” for “education and treatment” without judicial review.[86] Other legislation implemented in 2016, “Regulations on the Popularization of High School Education in Southern Parts of the Region,” bans any form of religious activity in schools, and stipulates that ‘‘no organization or individual’’ may ‘‘coerce, lure, or in the name of religion obstruct or interfere with’’ the education of students.[87]

41. Authorities have required religious leaders (imams) to fulfill “political reliability’’ and ‘‘patriotic education’’ requirements. To be officially certified, imams must be educated at State-sanctioned Islamic schools and be approved by authorities.[88] Imams, even after being certified, must continue to attend political training sessions.[89]

F. Discrimination against ethnic minority language and bilingual education [Article 5 (e); LOT para. 17]

  1. The government seems to be making efforts in expanding opportunities for ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, particularly Uyghurs, to access primary, secondary, and university education. However, the State school system has drastically marginalized Uyghur language in education. One result of the government’s promotion of its “15-year free public education” is the widening scope in Xinjiang for the education in Mandarin (the language of the Han majority). Authorities have, under the pretext of fostering “ethnic unity,” continued to prioritize Mandarin Chinese language in “bilingual education” and Chinese culture over Uyghur language and culture.
  2. The Uyghur language is banned as a language of school instruction in the XUAR. As an example of this prohibition, the Education Bureau in Hotan Prefecture has “resolutely prohibited the use of Uyghur language-only texts, banners, and pictures in the education system.” Instead of allowing the use of Uyghur in classroom instruction, the XUAR authorities have only allowed the study of the Uyghur language as a separate academic subject, according to our research.
  3. Mandarin Chinese-centered education can provide better employment opportunities to Uyghurs, particularly outside of Xinjiang. However, the lure of more lucrative work also accelerates the exodus of educated youth from Xinjiang, which in turn leads to a decline in the preservation of Uyghur language and culture. University administrators and teachers have pressured Uyghur students to report on their families’ religious views and practices. Teachers have conducted surveys about these activities and passed them to public security authorities in the name of trying to stop religious ideology from entering schools.
  4. Junior and high schools in Xinjiang have adopted a semi-militarized management style, and students are required to receive “patriotic education” and “unity education.”[90] A key purpose of this is to strengthen the “ideological guidance” for Uyghur students. Interviewees have told us that such school management weakens the ethnic and cultural identity of Uyghur youth.

G. Employment discrimination [Article 5 (e); LOT para. 18]

  1. The Committee raised its concern in 2009 regarding the high rate of unemployment of ethnic minorities in China, and called on the government to increase job training, effectively implement the Employee Protection Law, and combat negative stereotypes about ethnic minorities.[91] In its State report, the government claimed that it has taken numerous proactive measures to promote employment, but it did not provide any specific details about the beneficial results of such measures for ethnic minorities.[92] China has failed to adequately protect ethnic Uyghurs’ economic and social rights as guaranteed under Article 5(e)(i) of the Convention on the right to work, especially for Uyghur youth (ages 15 to 24).
  2. Many youths in the XUAR, especially in rural areas, are unemployed. Many of them have been either sent to detention centers or re-education camps or forced to return to their home villages from cities where they found work, and are prevented from travelling, and are thus unable to work in the cities. One major cause of youth unemployment is that Xinjiang’s economic development lags behind most other parts of China. Uyghur university graduates continue to struggle in finding jobs in Han urban areas. Many Uyghurs whom we interviewed highlighted discrimination against their ethnicity.
  3. Discriminatory requirements in job ads for civil service positions remain common in the XUAR and in the rest of China. For jobs in the government and in State-owned industries, applicants are screened for political loyalties, a requirement that disproportionately targets Uyghurs.[93] An analysis of a sample of 30 job ads in Xinjiang and Tibet found clear evidence of discrimination in the hiring process. In one example, according to criteria for positions in the police force in the XUAR posted in 2017, candidates are excluded if any of their family members or close relatives “within three generations” is “involved” or “suspected” of being involved in “illegal religious activities,” or is currently serving prison time.[94] This “three generation” exclusion rule was also stated in ads for an education bureau job in Yili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture. For another position, in Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County in Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, the job ad stated that applicants would be excluded if they have “separatist ideas and actions,” have relatives or themselves have been outside of the country or have gone abroad for activities that endanger national security.[95]
  4. Several Uyghur youths interviewed for this report said that, in their own experiences, companies favor employing Han Chinese over ethnic minorities. Some jobs require that applicants must have a certain level of Mandarin proficiency, a criterion that gives Han Chinese advantages over ethnic minorities. According to interviewees, even Uyghur applicants highly proficient in Mandarin Chinese and with good professional skills face stigma due to stereotypes of Uyghurs as generally sympathetic to or affiliated with violent terrorists or religious extremists.[96]
  5. An analysis of job ads posted in 2016 found that some companies explicitly stated they would not hire ethnic Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Yi minorities. Some positions related to security services also explicitly stated that only Han people can apply.[97] However, the government did not file a single case against such companies or agencies. Many ethnic minority interviewees said they were not able to bring lawsuits against these companies since they do not have sufficient knowledge about the law and do not know how to obtain legal aid.

H. Discrimination against ethnic minority migrant workers [Articles 2 and 5 (a); LOT para. 15]

  1. In its 2009 COB, CERD called on the government to reform the hukou system, China’s household registration system that links social benefits and services to residency.[98] While the Chinese government stated it is working to reform the system by 2020,[99] it has failed to take meaningful action so far.[100] The hukou system continues to contribute to the persistent discrimination against rural and migrant populations. Uyghur migrant workers describe finding it even more challenging because there is little to no information in their language on how they can access social services.
  2. In addition to discrimination in access to housing, medical care, education and other services available to urban residents, migrant workers from ethnic minorities, including Uyghur, Tibetan, and Yi, finding work in urban centers in other parts of the country, also face other challenges, including a lack of Mandarin Chinese proficiency, adequate professional skills, and training in modern technology.
  3. In interviews, some Uyghur migrants said the lack of halal food in schools and classes only being taught in Mandarin, and no ethnic minority language classes available, means many parents are forced to send their children back to the countryside while they work in cities.
  4. Urban Chinese residents have often refused to rent to Uyghurs because of their ethnicity, forcing many minorities to rent housing in unsafe buildings with fire risks and unsanitary conditions, according to our interviews. Many Uyghurs said they often had difficulties in staying in guesthouses and hotels, where they were either forced to undergo ID checks or refused service altogether. A hotel in Guangdong Province received a fine for breaking a ban on allowing Uyghur guests in 2017.[101] Taxi drivers in Han-majority cities often refuse to pick up passengers with Uyghur faces or Tibetan clothing.
  5. Many ethnic Uyghur migrants work in low-skilled jobs as a result of these above issues. In their migrant destinations, urban-management officers and local government authorities frequently drive out the Uyghurs or harass them. Since 2017, Xinjiang authorities are forcing Uyghur migrant workers and students in other parts of the country to return home for political indoctrination. Interviewees also spoke of an unwritten policy that gave police the power to simply expel migrant Uyghurs after the 2009 unrest. A strict internal migration policy has been implemented across Southern Xinjiang, preventing residents from moving to different areas in the region.


[1] In gathering information for this report, we conducted interviews, reviewed media reports and scholarly research from both Chinese and overseas sources, and drew on information from official Chinese government documents. Out of concern over government reprisals, the identities of researchers and interview subjects are being kept confidential.

[2] Adrian Zenz, James Leibold, “Chen Quanguo: The Strongman Behind Beijing’s Securitization Strategy in Tibet and Xinjiang,” China Brief, Volume: 17 Issue 12, September 21, 2017,

[3] Xi Jinping’s statement came less than a year after he formally set up the “National Anti-Terror Leadership Team” and hosted its first meeting, in August 2013, which was just months after he took power. Xinhua Net, “Xi Jinping: Firmly Establish Correct Sense of Motherland, Sense of Ethnicity Among the Masses of Various Ethnicities” (新华网: 习近平:要在各族群众中牢固树立正确的祖国观、民族观), May 29, 2014,; For more on the Anti-Terror Leadership Team, see: Observer, “Ministry of Public Security: Establishment of National Leading Group for Anti-Terror Work, Guo Shengkun to Serve as Director” (公安部: 国家反恐怖工作领导小组成立 郭声琨兼任组长), August 28, 2013,

[4] Zenz, Leibold, “Chen Quanguo: The Strongman Behind Beijing’s Securitization Strategy in Tibet and Xinjiang,” China Brief, 2017.

[5] Phoenix Information, “Chen Quanguo’s 5-Year Rule in Tibet: Social Stability, Leader in Economic Growth” (陈全国治藏五年:社会稳定 经济增速领跑), August 29, 2016,

[6] China fourteenth to seventeenth periodic reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), January 24, 2017, CERD/C/CHN/14-17, para 15.

[7] The law also introduced broad provisions to “punish the exploitation of religion to conduct illegal and criminal activities that endanger national security” and “maintaining the normal order of religious activities,” (Article 27) and a general provision that the State opposes terrorism and extremism (Article 28). National People’s Congress (NPC), National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国国家安全法), 2015,; Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), “Too Risky to Call Ourselves Defenders”: Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2015), February 15, 2016, pg. 1,

[8] Office of the Human Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), “UN human rights chief says China’s new security law is too broad, too vague,” July 7, 2015,

[9] The 9th Amendments made it a crime to “force others” to wear clothes or symbols propagating terrorism (Article 120e) and “illegal possession of books or audio or video materials propagating terrorism or extremism” (Article 120f). Ninth Criminal Law Amendment of the People’s Republic of China ( 中华人民共和 国刑法修正案(九)), amended 2015,

[10] As evidence that the national law was targeted at Xinjiang, no national-level regulations were promulgated and instead the XUAR People’s Congress is the only region to pass implementing measures for the law. The law’s definition of terrorism is broad and vague (Article 3), and includes a prohibition on compelling others to wear clothes or symbols that advocate terrorism, broadly interpreted as Islamic dress such as veils or beards. The law also prohibits “distorted religious teachings” (Article 4). The law also includes a provision paving the way for “re-education” camps (Article 29). Counter-Terrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国反恐怖主义法), 2016,

[11] This has only ever been done before for an entire region/province in XUAR for 10 months after the 2009 unrest, and since then in areas of unrest or ahead of politically sensitive anniversaries. Ben Blanchard, “China tightens Web screws after Xinjiang riot,” Reuters, July 6, 2009,; Edward Wong, “After Long Ban, Western China Is Back Online,” The New York Times, May 14, 2010,

[12] The newly amended Article 3 contains several provisions which provide legal cover for the government’s policies against Uyghurs, such as prohibiting organizations and individuals from using religion to “endanger national security,” a legally nebulous term that is often used as justification to target political dissidents, human rights activists, and ethnic minorities, and prohibiting advocating, supporting, or funding religious extremism or using religion to undermine ethnic unity. State Council, Religious Affairs Regulations (宗教事务条例), 2004, amended 2017,

[13] The measures define terrorist activities under Article 6, including using mobile phones, the Internet, mobile storage media, audio/video material, electronic equipment, a/v products or printed materials to disseminate “terrorist or extremist” materials, (a provision which may have led to prosecution of those who have religious sermons on their phones), and the catch-all “other terrorist activities.” The measures also prohibit encouraging minors to participate in religious activities (Article 51(2). The focus on Islam is clear, as the measures specifically mention “halal” products under Article 51. Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) People’s Congress, Implementing Measures for the Counter-Terrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China (新疆维吾尔自治区实施《中华人民共和国反恐怖主义法》办法), 2016,

[14] Some of the so-called signs of “extremism” include wearing veils, using a VPN to scale the Great Firewall to read or listen to “religious extremist” materials (terminology which is not legally defined), suddenly giving up smoking or drinking, or refusing to have contact with an ethnic minority CCP cadre. XUAR Government, “Xinjiang Region Study to Distinguish 75 Signs of Religious Extremism” (新疆部分地区学习识别75种宗教极端活动), December 24, 2014,

[15] XUAR Government, “Xinjiang Region Study to Distinguish 75 Sings of Religious Extremism.”

[16] The regulations began to be implemented across the XUAR, and under the regulations, local autonomous regions, prefectures, and counties are responsible for de-extremism in those areas, leaving local officials free to interpret the rules and implement different policies. Such a fragmented and localized approach has led to serious human rights abuses and a lack of protection for ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. The new regulations further strengthened the legislative policy underpinning the new and vast re-education system. The regulations also include a vague prohibition on the catch all “other speech or acts of extremism.” XUAR People’s Congress, “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Regulations on De-Extremism” (新疆维吾尔自治区去极端化条例), 2017,

[17] Under Article 13 of the regulations, any content that: “endangers national security,” “incites subversion of state power or overthrowing the socialist system,” “distorts Xinjiang’s history, ethnic development, or religious development,” incites others to gather in illegal assemblies or demonstrations, or “distorts” the concept of halal is banned. Network operators that allow content banned under Article 13 will be fined between 10,000-100,000 RMB (approx. 1,500 -15,000 USD). XUAR People’s Congress, “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Rules on Management of Cyber Security” (新疆维吾尔自治区网络安全管理条例), 2017,

[18] China fourteenth to seventeenth periodic reports to the CERD, para. 49.

[19] Xinjiang Net “Xinjiang Comprehensively Strengthens the Construction of Social Security Prevention and Control System” (新疆网:新疆全面强化社会治安防控体系建设), May 28, 2014,

[20] Zenz, Leibold, “Chen Quanguo: The Strongman Behind Beijing’s Securitization Strategy in Tibet and Xinjiang,” China Brief, 2017.

[21] Xinjiang had 21.81 million people in 2010, according to Chinese government data. In Urumqi alone, the government reportedly was building 949 such stations in October 2017. Between October 2016 and February 2017, the Chinese company Keda (科达) said it had installed video communication systems for 3,000 new convenience police stations, connecting these outposts to the XUAR Public Security Department to allow “information gathering and transmitting directives from headquarters for rapid responses.” An air-conditioning company, Nuantong (暖通), reported that 7,300 Convenience Police Stations in Xinjiang purchased electric heating systems from the company in January 2017. Xinhua, “949 Convenience Police Stations Will be Built on the Streets of Urumqi”; Zhongguancun Online, “The First Line of Social Stability Is Stationing of More Than 3,000 Convenience Police Stations In Xinjiang” (中关村在线:服务维稳第一线科达驻守新疆3000多个便民警务站), February 17, 2017,; Energy News Network, “7300 Xinjiang Convenience Stations Purchased HVAC Equipment; Xinjiang HVAC Exhibition was held on March 24th” (能源新闻网: 7300个新疆便民服务站集中采购暖通设备 新疆暖通展3月24日举行), January 12, 2017,

[22]  Adrian Zenz and James Leibold, ‘‘Xinjiang’s Rapidly Evolving Security State,’’ Jamestown Foundation, China Brief, Vol. 17, Issue 4, March 14, 2017,; ‘‘Summary of Collected Information of Various Types of Recruitment in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in 2017 (March Latest Version),’’ WeChat post, March 20, 2017; Nectar Gan, ‘‘Xinjiang’s Police Hiring Binge Comes From Party Boss’s Tibet Playbook,’’ South China Morning Post, August 13, 2017,

[23] At such times, authorities would regularly deploy armed police and military troops at train stations, major traffic intersections, shopping malls, and tourist sites. Voice of America, “Chinese officials ordered day-and-night patrols in Xinjiang,” July 1, 2013,; Zhang Hui, “Police street patrols in Beijing at maximum level to counter terrorism,” Global Times, June 29, 2015,

[24] This is corroborated by a report by The New York Times: “At multiple checkpoints, police officers scan your ID card, your irises and the contents of your phone. At the supermarket or the bank, you are scanned again, your bags are x-rayed and an officer runs a wand over your body—at least if you are from the wrong ethnic group. Members of the main group are usually waved through.” James Millward, ‘What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State,’ The New York Times,  February 3, 2018,

[25] In the city of Hotan, for instance, every visitor must provide their government-issued ID card number, registered place of residence, and the length and purpose of the visit. Residents who want to travel outside of their residential areas must first pass these checkpoints, where they show that they have obtained permission from local authorities. Radio Free Asia (RFA), “New Xinjiang Party Boss Boosts Surveillance, Police Patrols,” December 16, 2016,

[26] See also: RFA, “Vehicles to Get Compulsory GPS Tracking in Xinjiang,” February 20, 2017,

[27] These were part of the nationwide mobilization of the military under the same “anti-terror” pretext in 22 provinces, five ethnic autonomous regions, and four municipalities under the central government’s rule, between March and May of 2014. China Police Network, “Xinjiang has Launched 51 Counter-Terrorism Drills this Year” (中国警察网:新疆今年来已开展51次反恐演练), June 10, 2014,

[28] Unlike other similar events previously, these lasted for three days (from September 10 to 12). Such activities were held were held in, among other cities, Urumqi, Kashgar, Yili, and Aksu. Xinhua, “Armed Police Forces Held ‘Guardian-17·Tianshan’ Counter-Terrorism Exercise in Xinjiang” (武警部队在新疆举行“卫士-17·天山”反恐实兵演习), September 12, 2017,; Ministry of National Defense Network, “Peace Mission-2016’ Joint Counter-Terrorism Army Exercise Mobilization Conference” (国防部网:“和平使命-2016”联合反恐军演出征誓师动员大会举行), September 12, 2016, See more reports on military exercises and parades held in various locations in Xinjiang between February and May 2017: Global Times, “Xinjiang holds oath-taking rally to fight terrorism and tighten security” February 17, 2017,; Wang Na, ‘‘Xinjiang Declares War on ‘Three Forces’ in Strongest Voice,” Tianshan Net, February 17, 2018,; “China Holds Mass Police Rally in Xinjiang as Hundreds Sent to Anti-Terror ‘Frontline,’” Reuters, February 28, 2017,; Edward Wong, ‘‘Chinese Security Forces Rally in Xinjiang in a Show of Power,’’ The New York Times, February 20, 2017,; RFA, “Xinjiang Again Holds Counterterrorism Activity, Uyghurs Say Aimed at Frightening Them,” May 30, 2017,; Oriental Daily Net, “Xinjiang Holds Collective Voice of the Sword Mass Rally, Stresses Fight Against Three Forces,” May 30, 2017,

[29] Zenz, Leibold, “Chen Quanguo: The Strongman Behind Beijing’s Securitization Strategy in Tibet and Xinjiang,” China Brief, March 14, 2017.

[30] The “grid-style social management” system was first trialed in the early to mid-2000s in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Shenzhen, and other cities, and then gradually rolled out in Tibet and Xinjiang after the unrest of 2008-2009 in those regions. China Tibet News, “Tibet achieves full coverage of ‘grid’ management” (西藏实现“网格化”管理全覆盖), November 3, 2014, For more information, see: “Comprehensively Manage Secure Society, Build Civilized and Safe City” (综合治理社会治安 打造文明平安城区), October 22, 2015,; Chinese Social Sciences Net, “Summary of Research on Domestic Community Grid Management” (国内社区网格化管理研究综述), October 28, 2013,

[31] The management system is divided into four levels: daily management, general attention, target emphasis, and comprehensive management. Xinjiang Daily, “Central Government Portal Website: By Year’s End, ‘Grid’ Will Cover Over Half Of Urban Communities in Xinjiang” (中央政府门户网站:“网格化”年底将覆盖新疆半数以上的城市社区), April 9, 2012,; The Theory Monthly, “Community Merchants’ ’10-Residence Joint Protection’ at the Grassroots Level of Counter-Terrorism and Stability and the Practice of National Unity and Innovation Mechanism” (社区商户“十户联保”之基层反恐维稳与民族团结创新机制实践考察), 2016, No. 4,

[32] Activities led by a selected “director” include the building of a grassroots social maintenance model that involves information and communications, conflict and dispute mediation, joint defense for law and order, joint security, joint monitoring of members, and secure joint construction, like for roads and other local infrastructure. The Theory Monthly, “Community Merchants’ ’10-Residence Joint Protection’ at the Grassroots Level of Counter-Terrorism and Stability and the Practice of National Unity and Innovation Mechanism,” 2016, No. 4.

[33] In official parlance, they must achieve the “Three No’s, Three No Out’s”: “no excessive petitioning, no mass petitioning, and no petitioning over multiple cases,” and prevent the formation of “small, medium, and large-scale” incidents. Xinjiang New China Net, “Xinjiang Emin County: ‘Three Full Coverages’ Promoting Urban Grassroots Party-Building Development” (新疆额敏县:“三个全覆盖” 推进城市基层党建发展), August 21, 2017,

[34] For examples of executing emergency drills with the “10-Residence Joint Protection Unit” system, see: “Urumqi Community ‘10-Residence Joint Protection’ Responds to Emergencies” (乌鲁木齐社区“十户联保”应对突发事件), August 22, 2014,; and Tianshan Net, “Heilongjiang Community in Urumqi Launches ‘10-Residence Joint Protection’ Emergency Exercise” (乌鲁木齐黑龙江社区展开“十户联保”应急演练), September 23, 2014,

[35] Xinjiang New China Net, “Xinjiang Emin County: ‘Three Full Coverages’ Promoting Urban Grassroots Party-Building Development.”

[36] XUAR Party Secretary Chen Quanguo stressed the importance of disciplining “two-faced” cadres in February 2017, when he spoke about “strict discipline in the anti-separatist struggle” and “resolute handling according to law of ‘two-faced people’ and ‘two-faced factions’ in the anti-separatist struggle.” After coming under pressure, many Uyghur cadres in Xinjiang have issued public declarations professing their loyalty to the Party and its regional objectives and expressing solidarity with the “struggle” against the “three evil forces,” “two-faced people,” and “two-faced factions.” The official basis behind handling the problem of “two-faced” cadres is laid out in internal CPP documents, including “Regulations on Strict Anti-Separatist Struggle Discipline,” “Opinion on Strict Anti-Separatist Struggle Discipline,” and “Opinion on Strengthening the Work of Supervision and Accountability in Ideological Areas.” These point out the perceived political shortcomings of some cadres in Xinjiang and recommend stricter allegiance to Party principles by, for instance, using Xi Jinping’s speeches as a guide. The opinions call on officials to “earnestly enhance active consciousness in the struggle against separatism” and to “set up a red line,” or, in other words, tighten enforcement of policies for combatting “separatist” threats and “extremism.” These are secret government documents, and their full texts are not publicly available; however, for more information on the set of rules. RFA, “China to Punish ‘Two-Faced’ Uyghur Officials in New Reward Scheme,” December 26, 2018,; Xinjiang Daily: “’Uyghur Compatriots Awakening Book’ Receives Enthusiastic Response, Counter-terrorism Maintains Stability” (《致维吾尔族同胞觉醒书》反响热烈 反恐维稳打头阵), April 4, 2014, For information on the regulations and two opinions, see: New Secrets Net, “’Regulations on Strict Anti-Separatist Struggle Discipline’ Thematic Democratic Life to Complement Examination Material” (《关于严肃反分裂斗争纪律的规定》专题民主生活会对照检查材料), October 28, 2017,; and Principal’s Office of Xinjiang University, “Rules on Discipline of Serious Anti-separatist Struggle and Strengthening the Ideological Field of the Party Branch of the Principal’s Office Studies of the Autonomous Region Party Committee,” (校长办公室党支部学习自治区党委关于严肃反分裂斗争纪律和加强意识形态领域 监督执纪问责意见精神), April 27, 2017,

[37] China Digital Times, “Advanced Surveillance Spreading From Xinjiang,” December 22, 2017,

[38] “Xinjiang Again Holds Counterterrorism Activity, Uyghurs Say Aimed at Frightening Them,” Radio Free Asia, May 30, 2017. An example of media reporting of such a drill in Xinshi District of Urumqi, see: “Xiaohongqiao Community of Yinchuan Road Street Launches ‘10-Residence Joint Protection’ Emergency Exercise” (银川路街道小红桥社区开展“十户联保”应急演练), December 1, 2014, Residents including small businesses must take part in the drills at their own expense. They must pay for installing password-activated security doors, “panic buttons” and cameras that film not just the street outside but also inside their houses or stores, sending a direct video feed to police. For local Uyghur residents, these measures are not about their security, but mass surveillance and control. Philip Wen, “Terror Threats Transform China’s Uighur Heartland Into Security State,” Reuters, March 30, 2017,

[39] As an indication of the spread of reliance on big data, as of January 2018, across the country, 18 municipalities and provinces reportedly have created policies or legislation related to big data systems and authorities have established 23 related administrative departments. Wang Ruishi, “Explanation: 2017 New Directions in Government AI Big Data Policy Development” (解读:2017年政府AI大数据发展政策新风向), CERSS, January 15, 2017,

[40] China Security Exhibition Network, “China’s First Provincial-level ‘Police Cloud’ Platform Officially Went Online,” November 20, 2013,

[41] For a representative list in Chinese of the seven types of “key personnel” see Zhejiang Province Public Security Rule on Controlling Movements of Key Personnel Work (浙江省公安机关重点人员动态管控工作规范 (试行), reprinted in IBO, China AIDS Museum, November 8, 2010, Human Rights Watch, “China: Police ‘Big Data’ Systems Violate Privacy, Target Dissent,” November 19, 20017,

[42] Sohu, “Sharp Eyes Project Construction Advancing at a Steady and Swift Pace, Regions Are One After Another Drafting Blueprints” (雪亮工程建设蹄疾步稳 各地蓝图渐次展开), January 2, 2018,

[43] One example given in a news article is that of a woman at home taking care of her kids and at the same time looking at her television monitoring incoming images and video feeds from the platform. If she sees anything suspicious, she calls the police directly. Ping An Yi Meng, “Discussion About Recognizing and Considering the “Sharp Eyes” Project (浅谈对“雪亮工程”的认识和思考), Legal Daily, June 8, 2017,; Legal Daily, “Public Security How to Achieve Complete Video Coverage Monitoring” (公共安全视频监控如何实现全覆盖), February 13, 2018,

[44] This network, sometimes called the “Internet of Things,” refers to the networks created through devices, including automobiles, home appliances, smartphones, computers, printers, machinery, and many other devices. These devices are embedded with electronics, software, and sensors that allow them to connect and exchange data. The Internet of Things is controversial and there are concerns about privacy and security among others.

[45] RFA, “‘Sharp Eyes Project’ extends full coverage video surveillance to villages both televisions and cell phones will have eyes” (雪亮工程”农村全覆盖视频监控 家电手机均长眼), , March 30, 2018,

[46] People’s Daily, “‘Sharp Eyes Project” ensures peace and security,” June 14, 2017,

[47] HRW, “China: Minority Region Collects DNA from Millions,” December 13, 2018,; Wenxin Fan, Natasha Khan, Liza Lin, “China Snares Innocent and guilty Alike to Build World’s Biggest DNA Database,” Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2017,

[48] China Digital Times, “Netizen Voices: Xinjiang Passport Recall,” October 21, 2016,

[49] Xinjiang People’s Net, “Visit, Benefit, Come Together,” accessed July 3, 2018, Under the “Visit, Benefit, Come Together” campaign, over 200,000 cadres have served in “working groups” at the grassroots level in Xinjiang, dispatched in separate batches between March 2014 and February 2016.

[50]According to State media, by September 2017, cadres and workers in Xinjiang had paired with people of all ethnic groups in order to promote the official “Five Agreements” of “re-education,” under which the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities should acknowledge the value of the “Great Motherland,” the Chinese people’s nation, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party, and “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”  People’s Daily, “Chen Quanguo: Focus on promoting social stability and long-term stability in Xinjiang” (陈全国:着力推进新疆社会稳定和长治久安), September 18, 2017,; Tianshan Net, “Deputy Secretary of Xinjiang Hetian District Committee: Vows Bloody Battle Against ‘Two-Faced’ Individuals” (新疆和田地委副书记:誓与“两面人”血战到底), August 4, 2017,; RFA, “China to Punish ‘Two-Faced’ Uyghur Officials in New Reward Scheme.”

[51] Committee On The Elimination Of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Concluding observations on China, September 2009, CERD/C/CHN/CO/10-13, par. 15.

[52] The extrajudicial “de-radicalization re-education” detention of Uyghurs in large numbers in the XUAR has been widely reported by NGOs, scholars, and in the media. Between July 2017 and June 2018, by talking to Uyghur villagers in several counties in southern Xinjiang, and through interviews with migrant laborers or students in Chinese cities outside Xinjiang, we are able to piece together the scope and intensity, worse than previously reported, of the government’s “de-radicalization” re-education programs. See for example: Megha Rajagopalan, “This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like”, Buzzfeed News, October 18, 2017,; Josh Chin, Clément Bürge, “Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life,” Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2017,; Gerry Shih, “AP Exclusive: In western China, thought police instill fear,” Associated Press, December 17, 2017,; HRW, “China: Free Xinjiang ‘Political Education’ Detainees”, September 10, 2017,; Foreign Policy, “A Summer Vacation in China’s Muslim Gulag,” February 28, 2018,

[53] In February 2018, a Chinese diplomat denied a CNN report about the “detention of thousands of Uyghur Muslims at political education camps in Xinjiang’s Kashgar” and said that “It’s better to cite Chinese media, how they write about it, not the Western press.” But Zhang Yun, the CCP Secretary of XUAR Judicial Office, gave an interview with Chinese media in 2015, during which he explained how the government set the 30% ratio as the target of its re-education and reform programs. Chen Fang, iFeng chief commentary writer, “Exclusive Heavy Weight: Xinjiang De-radicalization Investigation” (独家重磅 新疆去极端化调查), Phoenix Information, October 18, 2015,

[54] RFA, “Xinjiang Authorities Targeting Uyghurs Under 40 For Re-Education Camps,” March 22, 2018,

[55] RFA, “Interview: ‘I Cannot Express the Pain and Helplessness I Feel’,” May 31, 2018,

[56] Shih, “AP Exclusive: In western China, thought police instill fear,” Associated Press.

[57] The Economist, “China has turned Xinjiang into a police state like no other,” May 31, 2018.

[58] Uyghur Human Rights Project, “Uyghur Human Rights Project Condemns Death in Custody of Scholar Muhammad Salih Hajim,” January 29, 2018,

[59] RFA, “Uyghur Teenager Dies in Custody at Political Re-Education Camp,” March 14, 2018,

[60] RFA, “Elderly Uyghur Woman Dies in Detention in Xinjiang ‘Political Re-Education Camp,’” May 24, 2018,

[61] RFA, “Uyghur Man Buried Amid Strict Security After Latest Xinjiang Reeducation Camp Death,” June 8, 2018,

[62] China fourteenth to seventeenth periodic reports to the CERD, paras. 50 and 54.

[63] Xinjiang People’s Procurtorate (XPP) “XUAR People’s Procuratorate 2017 Work Report” (自治区人民检察院工作报告 2017), April 5, 2018,; Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP), “Supreme People’s Procuratorate Work Report (2017)” (最高人民检察院工作报告(2017)), March 25, 2018,; National Bureau of Statistics of People’s Republic of China, Communiqué of Major Figures of the 2010 Population Census, April 29, 2011,

[64] Figures come from Xinjiang People’s Procuratorate Annual Work Reports (2014-2017), a State media news summary of Xinjiang’s 2013 report, and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate Annual Work Reports (2013-2017). The 2013 Xinjiang People’s Procuratorate Annual Work Report is not publicly available, so number estimated from the 2014 report figure, which is stated as being a 95% increase from 2013, and a State media article summarizing the 2013 report. The exact 2017 number not stated in Xinjiang work report, but the five-year total for 2013-2017 is provided so number is estimated by deducting the other years – the same method is used to produce the 2017 number from the SPP’s work reports. See: XPP, “XUAR People’s Procuratorate 2017 Work Report” (自治区人民检察院工作报告 2017), April 5, 2018,; XPP, “XUAR People’s Procuratorate 2016 Work Report” (自治区人民检察院工作报告 2016), April 5, 2018,; XPP, “XUAR People’s Procuratorate 2015 Work Report” (自治区人民检察院工作报告 2015), April 5, 2018,; XPP, “XUAR People’s Procuratorate 2014 Work Report” (自治区人民检察院工作报告 2014), April 5, 2018,; Tianshan Net, “Nixiang Yibulayin Presents XUAR People’s Procuratorate Work Report” (尼相·依不拉音作自治区人民检察院工作报告), January 29, 2013,; SPP, “Supreme People’s Procuratorate Work Report (2017)” (最高人民检察院工作报告(2017)), March 25, 2018,; SPP, “Supreme People’s Procuratorate Work Report (2016)” (最高人民检察院工作报告(2016)), March 20, 2017,; SPP, “Supreme People’s Procuratorate Work Report (2015)” (最高人民检察院工作报告(2015)), March 21, 2016,; SPP, “Supreme People’s Procuratorate Work Report (2014)” (最高人民检察院工作报告(2014)), March 23, 2015,; SPP, “Supreme People’s Procuratorate Work Report (2013)” (最高人民检察院工作报告(2013)), March 18, 2014,

[65] Stanley Toops, “Spatial Results of the 2010 Census in Xinjiang,” Asia Dialogue, Asia Research Institute University of Nottingham, March 7, 2016,

[66] HRW, “Devastating Blows Religious Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang,” April, 2005, Vol. 17, No. 2(C), pp. 65-7,

[67] Authorities launched a “strike hard” campaign in 2009 following the unrest in Urumqi in July, in 2011 when the China-Eurasia Expo was held in Urumqi, and in 2014 following a visit to XUAR by Xi Jinping after several terrorist attacks. Tania Branigan, “China launches ‘strike hard’ crackdown in Xinjiang ,” The Guardian, November 3, 2009,; People’s Daily, “Xinjiang Launches Special Campaign to ‘Severely Crack Down On Violent Terrorist Crimes’” (新疆将启动“严厉打击暴力恐怖犯罪”专项行动), August 15, 2011,; China Daily, “China’s major anti-terrorism forces and their leading organs,” June 6, 2014,; MPS, “Ministry of Public Security Convened Conference on Special Campaign to Crack Down on Violent Terrorist Activities” (公安部召开严厉打击暴力恐怖活动专项行动内地部署视频会), May 31, 2014,; Legal Daily, “Xinjiang Procuratorate Launches a Special Campaign to Crack Down on Violent Terrorist Activities” (新疆检察院开展严厉打击暴力恐怖活动专项行动), May 25, 2014,

[68] Supreme People’s Court (SPC), SPP, MPS, “Opinions on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Handling of Criminal Cases Involving Violent Terrorism and Religious Extremism” (关于办理暴力恐怖和宗教极端刑事案件适用法律若干问题的意见), September 9, 2014,

[69] SPC, SPP, MPS, Ministry of Justice, “Supreme People’s Procuratorate and Four Departments Issued Opinions to Guide the Handling of Terrorist Activities and Extremist Crimes in Accordance with the Law” (最高检等四部门出台意见指导依法办理恐怖活动和极端主义犯罪案件), June 15, 2018,

[70] CHRD, Portrait of a Defender – Ilham Tohti,

[71] State Council, Religious Affairs Regulations (宗教事务条例), 2004, amended 2017.

[72] XUAR People’s Congress, “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Regulations on De-Extremism”; Xinhua, “Xinjiang Rolls Out China’s First Law To Purge Religious Extremism,” March 30, 2017, The rules against Islamic naming conventions were expanded to apply to names of anyone up to age 16. RFA, ‘‘China Extends Ban on ‘Extreme’ Uyghur Baby Names to Children Under 16,’’ June 1, 2017,; RFA, ‘‘China Bans ‘Extreme’ Islamic Baby Names Among Xinjiang’s Uyghurs,’’ April 20, 2017,

[73] RFA, “’No Sign’ of Kazakh Imam Scheduled For Release From Prison in July,” August 9, 2017,; RFA, “Uyghur Village Cadre Dismissed For Holding Islamic Wedding Vows at Home,” April 18, 2017,

[74] Zhao Yusha, “Xinjiang sets up local committees to better serve religious activities,” Global Times, November 22, 2017,

[75] Public places where Islamic expression has been banned include, among others, schools, hospitals, public transit vehicles, government buildings, and businesses. People’s Daily, “Public Places in Urumqi Ban Full Body and Face-Covering Veils” (乌鲁木齐市公共场所将禁止穿戴蒙面罩袍), January 17, 2015,; Phoenix Information, “Behind Urumqi Legislation Prohibiting Face-Covering Veils” (乌鲁木齐立法禁止蒙面罩袍背后), January 19, 2015, For information on long-standing efforts to stop men from wearing beards and women from wearing veils, see Congressional Executive Committee on China, “Local Officials In Xinjiang Continue Curbs Over Religious Practice,” December 16, 2011,

[76] RFA, “On the Eve of Ramadan, 22 People in Xinjiang Detained for Taking Part in Religious Activities” (穆斯林斋月前夕 新疆再有22人因从事宗教活动被抓), May 26, 2017,

[77] RFA, “Muslim Uyghurs in China Fined, Sent to ‘Study Classes’ for Observing Ramadan,’’ June 14, 2017,; RFA, “Restaurants Ordered To Remain Open in Xinjiang Amid Ramadan Fast,” May 26, 2017,; Bai Tiantian, “China releases Xinjiang’s religion freedom white paper, dispels misreading of Ramadan rules,” Global Times, June 2, 2016,; BBC Chinese, “Chinese Authorities Tighten Control Over Fasting During Ramadan” (穆斯林斋月前中国当局加紧控制封斋), June 16, 2015,

[78] RFA, “Restaurants Ordered To Remain Open in Xinjiang Amid Ramadan Fast,” May 26, 2017,

[79] RFA, ‘‘Stability Maintenance Level Is Raised in Urumqi, Xinjiang, on the Eve of June Fourth, Entering a Neighborhood Is Like Visiting a Prisoner’’ (六四前夕新疆乌鲁木齐维稳升级 入社区如探监), May 31, 2017,; “Summary of Stability Maintenance Work in Xinjiang During Ramadan in 2017’’ (2017年关于新疆斋月期间维稳工作总结), Shida Education Net, May 25, 2017,

[80] RFA, “China Embeds Cadres in Uyghur Homes During Ramadan,” June 8, 2017,

[81] Willy Wo-Lap Lam, ‘‘Beijing’s New Scorched-Earth Policy Against the Uighurs,’’ Jamestown Foundation, China Brief, Vol. 17, Issue 2, February 6, 2017; RFA, ‘‘Under the Guise of Public Safety, China Demolishes Thousands of Mosques,” December 19, 2016,

[82] Jiang Jie, “Xinjiang Underground Preaching Sites Shut Down: Islamic Leader,” Global Times, March 8, 2016,

[83] RFA, “Xinjiang Authorities Convert Uyghur Mosques Into Propaganda Centers,” August 3, 2017,

[84] China Daily, “14,500 Chinese make Hajj pilgrimage,” August 20, 2016,

[85] Sarah Cook, “The Battle for China’s Spirit: Religious Revival, Repression, and Resistance Under Xi Jinping,’’ Freedom House, February 2017, pg. 77. See also: Article 11, Religious Affairs Regulations (2004, amended 2017); Islamic Association of China, “2017 Sichuan Hajj Participants Pre-Departure Training Held in Chengdu” (2017 年四川朝觐人员行前培训在成都举行), July 7, 2017,;

[86] Articles 9 and 17, “Regulations on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency.” Reuters, “China Targets Parents in New Religion Rules for Xinjiang,” October 11, 2016,; Observe China, “Xinjiang Introduces Two Legal Regulations: Prohibit Parents From Inducing or Forcing Minors To Participate in Religion, Prohibit Religion Within Schools” (新疆出台两法规:禁止家长诱导强迫未成年人参加宗教 学校内禁止宗教), October 12, 2016,

[87] Article 25, “Regulations on the Popularization of High School Education in Southern Parts of the Region.”

[88] Islamic Association of China, “Measures for Confirming the Credentials of Islamic Professional Religious Personnel” (伊斯兰教教职人员资格认定办法), Article 3 (issued May 2006),

[89] Sarah Cook, ‘‘The Battle for China’s Spirit: Religious Revival, Repression, and Resistance Under Xi Jinping,’’ pg. 76, February 2017.

[90] The “Five Agreements” are to acknowledge the value of: the “Great Motherland,” the Chinese people’s nation, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party, and “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

[91] CERD, Concluding observations on China, 2009, para. 25.

[92] China fourteenth to seventeenth periodic reports to the CERD, 2017, para. 79

[93] Such a policy is not unique to Xinjiang. In Tibetan autonomous areas in Gansu province and Sichuan provinces, candidates are excluded on vague and unsubstantiated political grounds if they participated in the March 2008 protests in Tibet, or have engaged in “harmful trends’ or counter social stability work or unhealthy activities.

[94] Applicants are also excluded if they are members of religious groups like Falun Gong or non-government sponsored religious organizations which are considered “illegal” (for example, underground Christian “house” churches). “Annex 1: People’s police post application description – 2017 XUAR Instructions for Recruitment of Civil Servants and Staff Briefs for Public Examinations, and the People’s Police” (Annex 1: 人民警察职位报考说明2017年新疆维吾尔自治区面向社会公开考试录用公务员、工作人员简章,人民警察报考说明), March 10, 2017,

[95] CHRD, “Too Risky to Call Ourselves Defenders”: CHRD Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2015), February 15, 2016,; CHRD, “They Target My Human Rights Work as a Crime”: Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2016), February 16, 2017,; CHRD, Repression & Resilience: Annual Report on Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2017), February 26, 2018,

[96] Several individuals told us that during the first round of job interviews, they had been told that Uyghurs will not be hired. Other Uyghurs students told us they received high scores on their civil service exams but were told they would not proceed to the next round because they have family members who have been jailed or sent to re-education camps. One Uyghur graduate who received an offer of employment with a government agency in Kashgar was dropped from consideration for the job two weeks before her anticipated start date; as rationale, her would-be supervisor said that friends in her social network had “incorrect political views” and that her older brother had been jailed.

[97] Of a batch of 73 advertisements for positions in Xinjiang’s public security bureau in 2016, 21 positions were reserved for Han, 18 for Uyghurs, and the remaining 34 had no ethnic restriction. Only two positions were open to women applicants (but not reserved for women). Of a sample of 23 advertisements in 2016 for positions in Xinjiang’s court system, 13 were reserved for Han, seven for Uyghurs, one for Mongolians, one for Tajiks, and one had no ethnic restrictions. Only seven positions were open to women applicants, which included a reserved position for a Han woman; no positions were reserved for ethnic minority women). Of a batch of 69 advertisements for positions in prison management in Xinjiang in 2017, 20 were reserved for Han, and the remaining positions were open to ethnic minorities with a high proficiency of Mandarin (HSK level six or above). Only eight of those positions were also open to women, of which two were reserved for Han women. Of a sample of 25 advertisements for senior Party Committee positions in Xinjiang from 2018, all of the positions were only available to those from the Han majority (and only four available to women).

[98] CERD, Concluding observations on China, 2009, para. 14

[99] China fourteenth to seventeenth periodic reports to the CERD, 2017, para 13.

[100] CHRD, NGO Mid-Term Assessment of China’s Implementation of 2nd Universal Periodic Review Recommendations, November 22, 2016, pp. 101-2, 109-111,

[101] RFA, “Hotel in China’s Shenzhen Fined For Breaking Muslim Uyghur Guest Ban,” October 9, 2017,

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