New reports find widespread forced labor in China

Overhead view of rows of people sitting at tables working (© CCTV/AP Video)
Muslim trainees work in a garment factory in Xinjiang, northwest China. (© CCTV/AP Video)

New evidence suggests that the Chinese Communist Party is forcing Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities to work in factories under brutal conditions throughout China, not just in Xinjiang in northwest China.

This expansion of the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression of Muslim minorities is the conclusion of two reports released in March, one from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a Canberra-based think tank, and the other from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), a bipartisan commission of members of the U.S. Congress and government officials established to monitor human rights and the rule of law in China.

Both reports provide more details of the CCP’s widespread and systematic forced labor program for Muslim minorities and human rights abuses.

“For far too long the Chinese Communist Party has gotten away with the systematic use of forced labor by Uyghur Muslims and other Turkic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,” said Marco Rubio, a Republican U.S. senator from Florida and one of the co-chairs of the CECC, at the release of the CECC’s report [PDF, 1.9 MB] on March 11.

Since April 2017, more than 1 million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other Muslim minority groups have been held in internment camps in Xinjiang.

Child and woman standing facing the camera and holding a photo of two people (© Dake Kang/AP Images)
Sala Jimobai and her son hold a picture of her husband. Jimobai says her husband, an ethnic Kazakh, was detained in an internment camp and later transferred to a factory. (© Dake Kang/AP Images)

The camps are designed to instill patriotism and erase their religious and ethnic identities. Inside the camps, guards reportedly beat and torture prisoners and force them to renounce Islam.

The ASPI said its report “exposes a new phase in China’s social re-engineering campaign targeting minority citizens.”

As the two new reports show, the CCP has expanded its abuse of these groups to include forcing them to work for little or no pay under cruel, coercive conditions, and not just in Xinjiang.

The ASPI report details how the Chinese authorities transferred more than 80,000 detainees directly from one of Xinjiang’s “re-education camps” to textile, electronics and other factories across China. Government authorities strictly monitor workers in the factories. The workers cannot refuse to work without the risk that their families will be arrested. Their movements are limited and they cannot freely return to their homes in Xinjiang.

“As I’ve said before, the CCP’s record in Xinjiang is the stain of the century,” U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said March 11 when he released the State Department’s 2019 Human Rights Report, which details China’s “systematic torture and other degrading treatment” of its ethnic minorities.