Imran Khan grilled over stance on Muslim Uyghurs in China
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The claim came from technology expert Geoffrey Cain, who warned Beijing has created a “massive artificial intelligence dragnet” targeting Uyghurs, and other Muslim minorities. More than one million Muslims are believed to have been held in internment camps, in China’s western region of Xinjiang.
There have been widespread reports of torture, forced labour and sexual abuse at the facilities.
Mr Cain is the author of ‘The Perfect Police State: An Undercover Odyssey into China’s terrifying Surveillance Dystopia of the Future’.
The book explains how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has used the latest technology, especially advanced artificial intelligence (AI), to create one of the most intrusive police states in human history.
Members of China’s Muslim minority community can be arrested on the slightest pretext, such as growing a beard or having relatives abroad, and sent to the camps.
Beijing insists the camps are educational facilities, designed to combat Islamist fundamentalism, but the testimony of former inmates indicates they go much further.
Speaking to Express.co.uk Mr Cain explained how Beijing launched a dramatic crackdown following a series of Islamist terrorist attacks in the mid-2010s.
It’s estimated over a million Uyghurs have been held in Chinese detention camps (Image: GETTY)
“There were government cameras everywhere, covering pretty much every square meter” (Image: GETTY)
Describing his last visit to Xinjiang he said: “The most alarming development came, in December 2017 for me, when I made my most recent trip to Xinjiang China, to a town called Kashgar which is the historical heartland of the Uyghurs.
“It looked like a nuclear war had come in there decades ago and this was the society that was just stuck in this post-apocalyptic slave state to these technologies the Chinese government had mastered.
“There were government cameras everywhere, covering pretty much every square meter.
“Back then, in 2017, the government was getting close to surveilling the whole region and now the government claims they can see every square meter, so they’ve made strong developments there.”
The Chinese state gathered data from “people’s smart phones, their apps, their purchases, their clicks, from the surveillance cameras” and combined them into the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJPO).
This “massive artificial intelligence dragnet” used the data to determine “when somebody might commit a crime in the future, when someone needs to be surveilled more and maybe brought to a concentration camp for brain washing”.
“It really is the modern embodiment of the dystopian novel of the 1960s” (Image: GETTY)
Mr Cain added: “This is straight out of a sci-fi novel. It really is the modern embodiment of the dystopian novel of the 1960s.”
The forced sterilisation of women, along with cultural erasure, have led many experts to label what is happening to the Uyghur’s as a genocide.
In March 2021 the US State Department accused China of committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” against the Uyghurs, and other Muslim minorities.
The following month the British parliament passed a non-binding motion accusing Beijing of genocide.
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“The new ideology that has won out is the idea that the nation should be Han Chinese” (Image: GETTY)
“It is a genocide” (Image: GETTY)
Mr Cain agreed China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority constitutes a genocide.
He said: “It is a genocide, I think a lot of the world has trouble grasping how a genocide can happen in the year 2021.
“When we use the word genocide we think of death camps and gas chambers, we really think of the Khmer Rouge and Rwanda and the Nazis, all the horrors of the 20th century.
“But we live in a new age now – we live in a new age of technology that allows governments to very suddenly, and as quietly as possible, exterminate a population through the use of forced contraception, or through the assimilation of people to another culture.
“I do think that, from the Chinese government’s own statements on what it’s doing, I do think there is an intent to commit genocide.”
The CCP has been celebrating its centenary this year.
China: Group of Uyghurs are blindfolded and escorted onto trains
It has controlled the entirety of mainland China since the end of the Chinese civil war, in 1949.
Mr Cain argues the intensified oppression of Uyghurs is reflective of changes within CCP ideology, which favour the rise of Han Chinese nationalism.
Formally the CCP had some tolerance of ethnic and religious diversity, provided it didn’t challenge their power.
He explained: “It used to be that the government of China had a political system setup in which they tolerated the existence of different ethnic groups and tolerated, to some extent the presence of religion.
“Even though religions were formally banned the communist party knew they couldn’t eradicate Islam 30 years ago, it was simply going to be there.
“So there was a tacit understanding of ‘don’t stand out in the street and pray and be too extreme, but as long as you practice your religion within the confines of what the government allows then you’ll generally be ok’.”
“These Uyghurs are being consolidated into Han Chinese people” (Image: GETTY)
However, this began to change when Xi Jinping became CCP general secretary, and Chinese president in 2012.
Mr Cain said: “Starting about nine years ago, when Xi Jinping became president, there was an ideological shift that began under his presidency, and under the people he consolidated as his people.
“The new ideology that has won out is the idea that the nation should be Han Chinese.
“The dominant ideology amongst the Chinese government is that we are a Han Chinese nation, and even though we have all these ethnic groups which have historically been to some extent part of our empire or our great nation state, the time has come to consolidate the nation under Han Chinese.
“This is part of what is happening to the Uyghurs – an attempt to erase their identity and their culture and language, to make them speak Mandarin Chinese. Starting with the young generation to raise them with Han Chinese practices of eating pork, which Uyghur Muslims would not do.
“That’s the big idea behind this. This these Uyghurs are being consolidated, or you could say transformed into Han Chinese people. This reminisces of fascism and Nazi Germany – I think it is fair to compare China today to what Hitler had been creating in the early 1930s.
“People often say ‘be careful making comparisons to Nazi Germany because Nazi Germany is such an extreme example’. But when you actually look objectively, and pick apart, and analyse what’s been happening in China in the last ten years with its ultra-nationalism, it does have some very fascistic tendencies that are worrying.”
Chinese authorities have repeatedly denied allegations of abuse against the country’s Uyghur minority.
Speaking to the BBC in 2020, Liu Xiaoming, the then Chinese ambassador to the UK, said: “Uighur people enjoy peaceful, harmonious coexistence with other ethnic groups of people.
“We treat every ethnic group as equal.”
Express.co.uk contacted the Chinese Embassy in London for comment.