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China Didn’t Want Us to Know. Now Its Own Files Are Doing the Talking.



Photo of classified Chinese government documents
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No more denying, no more dodging. The Chinese Communist Party can no longer hide its relentless campaign of mass internment against the ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, or claim that the effort is an innocuous educational program. What was already widely known, vastly reported and confirmed by firsthand accounts has now been proved beyond doubt by the government’s own records — gigabytes of files, reams of reports, thousands of spreadsheets — some of them classified and highly confidential.
Last weekend, The New York Times disclosed and analyzed the contents of a trove of leaked internal Chinese government documents that outline specific policies for how to repress Xinjiang’s predominantly Muslim minorities — and reveal that President Xi Jinping himself set out the foundation for them.
This Sunday, the contents of two more sets of documents — all of which I have reviewed — are being disclosed. Among the first batch, also leaked, is a confidential telegram signed by Zhu Hailun, Xinjiang’s deputy party secretary, which details how local authorities should manage and operate the “vocational skills training centers” — a euphemism for the internment camps. (All translations here are mine.) The second set of documents, a large cache of files and spreadsheets from local governments, reveals the internment campaign’s devastating economic and social impact on the families and communities it targets.
Photo of buildings are seen around the Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux in western China's Xinjiang region

FILE – In this Sep. 17, 2018, file satellite image provided by Planet Labs, buildings are seen around the Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux in western China’s Xinjiang region. This is one of a number of internment camps in the Xinjiang region. Experts say the Chinese government has detained up to 1.8 million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities for what it calls voluntary job training. But a classified blueprint leaked to news organizations shows the camps are precisely what former detainees have described: Forced re-education centers. (Planet Labs via AP, File)

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