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Ethnic Uyghur men in Xinjiang province. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Researchers and reporters have been slowly uncovering the massive scale of political re-education camps housing members of the Muslim minority in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western China. Beijing is concerned about separatism, terrorism and Islamic extremism.

Why it matters: The apparent scale of human rights violations is staggering, and yet so far foreign governments have said little. But given China's crackdown on Muslims, will the China become nearly as hated across the Muslim world as America? Might drawing the anger of the Muslim world hurt the prospects for the Belt And Road Initiative, and its long game for influence in the Muslim world?

Adrian Zenz, a scholar in Germany, has used official Chinese documents to conclude in a new paper that:

While estimates of internment numbers remain speculative, the available evidence suggests that a significant percentage of Xinjiang’s Muslim minority population, likely at least several hundred thousand, and possibly just over one million, are or have been interned in political re-education facilities.

Gerry Shih of the Associated Press recently interviewed several men who had gone through the political re-education camps:

The internment program aims to rewire the political thinking of detainees, erase their Islamic beliefs and reshape their very identities. The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process or legal paperwork. Detainees who most vigorously criticize the people and things they love are rewarded, and those who refuse to do so are punished with solitary confinement, beatings and food deprivation.

Go deeper: Axios' Erica Pandey on China's long game for Middle East influence.

Go deeper

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 48 mins ago - World

Biden cleans up comments about Russia invading Ukraine

Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden sought to clarify his suggestion that a "minor incursion" by Russia into Ukraine may not draw the same response as a large invasion, telling reporters Thursday that "Russia will pay a heavy price" if any troops cross the border.

Why it matters: Some officials in Kyiv saw Biden's comments as inviting Russian aggression.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Study finds bias against Black patients written into medical charts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Black patients were more than two-and-a-half times as likely as white patients to have negative descriptors about them in their electronic health record, according to a study published Wednesday in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: The study is further evidence of bias in the U.S. health care system, which can ultimately result in worse care and disparately poor outcomes.