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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. lawmakers are demanding answers from the World Bank about its continued operation of a $50 million loan program in Xinjiang, following Axios reporting on the loans.

Why it matters: The Chinese government is currently waging a campaign of cultural and demographic genocide against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, in northwest China. The lawmakers contend that the recipients of the loans may be complicit in that repression.

In a letter dated Aug. 12 and addressed to World Bank Group president David Malpass, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), co-chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, pointed to specific concerns about the activities of the schools that have received funding.

What they're saying: "We continue to have serious concerns about the World Bank’s continued disbursement of a loan to the [Xinjiang] Department of Education after it became aware of the mass internment of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslims in the region," wrote McGovern and Rubio.

Background: Axios reported in December 2019 that World Bank partner schools in Xinjiang had requested tens of thousands of dollars to fund advanced surveillance equipment — including facial recognition systems — that connected directly to local public security bureaus.

  • Xinjiang is the site of a sweeping Chinese government campaign to forcibly assimilate Uighurs and other ethnic minorities through mass surveillance and detention.
  • The bank did not provide funding for the equipment but continued to disburse the loan even after the unusual request.
  • After media scrutiny, the bank scaled back but did not discontinue the Xinjiang loan program.

The lawmakers referenced the Axios report on the funding request, stating, "We would like to better understand why the World Bank considered it appropriate to work with these five vocational schools when they were seeking to purchase this type of equipment."

Go deeper: China tried to get World Bank to fund surveillance in Xinjiang

Go deeper

The public school funding divide

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Bettmann, Barbara Alper/Getty Images

Property taxes are the oxygen that makes public schools thrive, allowing districts with large, wealthy tax bases to offer better educational opportunities to their students while leaving districts with smaller tax bases starved for cash.

Why it matters: The gap plays an outsized role in perpetuating inequality in U.S. schools. Black and Latino students are likely to live in poorer neighborhoods and therefore attend poorer schools — shortchanging their education and producing consequences that snowball throughout K-12 and beyond.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.