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China’s Rights Abuses in Xinjiang Could Provoke a Global Terrorist Backlash

Washington Should Help Beijing Fight Extremism Without Resorting to Repression

Ethnic Kazakhs hold up portraits of family members that have been detained in Xinjiang, Almaty, Kazakhstan, December 2018 Romain Champalaune / REA / Redux

In mid-November 2019, The New York Times published more than 400 pages of leaked internal documents from the authorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, a province in northwestern China. At least one million people, but perhaps twice that number—mostly ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities—have been incarcerated in the province’s so-called reeducation camps, where detainees are held against their will and forced to perform manual labor, forbidden from contacting relatives, and in some cases psychologically and physically tortured.

The leaked documents included painstaking instructions for the silencing of those whose parents had been locked away, as well as internal speeches in which Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the Chinese people to show “no mercy” and use all the “weapons of people’s dictatorship” to combat a perceived extremist threat. The leak confirmed what human rights organizations, practitioners, and China watchers have long feared: that the Chinese

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