Dec 14, 2019 - World

China destroying documents after leaks about Uighur Muslims

A Chinese detention facility in Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux, Xinjiang region
A Chinese detention facility in Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux, Xinjiang region. Photo: Ng Han Guan/AP

The Xinjiang regional government in China's far west is deleting data, destroying documents and tightening controls on information, AP scoops.

Why it matters: That's in response to leaks of classified papers on mass detention camps for Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities.

Crisis meetings began after the N.Y. Times last month published "The Xinjiang Papers," a cache of internal speeches by top leaders, including Xi Jinping.

  • They continued after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published secret guidelines for operating detention centers, and instructions on how to use technology to target people.
  • "The China Cables" was written by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, now Axios' China reporter.

Xinjiang had mandated stricter controls on information before the news reports, then pressure rose, according to Uighurs outside Xinjiang.

  • State offices were told to throw away computers, and put camp information in databases disconnected from the internet, in restricted-access rooms.
  • Some university teachers were ordered to clean out sensitive data on their computers, phones and cloud storage, and delete work-related social media groups.

In some cases, the state appears to be confiscating evidence of detentions.

  • One Uighur, who had been detained in Xinjiang years before, said his ex-wife called him two weeks ago and begged him to send his release papers to her.
  • She said eight officers had come to her home to search for the papers, and threatened she'd be jailed for life if she couldn't produce them.

Go deeper:

Go deeper