An Unplanned, Ad-Hoc Collaboration Reveals The On-The-Ground Truth About China's Internment Camps For Uyghurs

from the name-that-surveillance-camera dept

The US, UK and Australia have all announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. The reason given for the move is because of human rights abuses in China, particularly in the turkic-speaking region of Xinjiang. Techdirt has been writing about the Chinese authorities’ use of technology to censor and carry out surveillance on the local Uyghur population, among others, for some years. One of the most controversial aspects of China’s policy in the region is the use of huge detention camps. According to the authorities there, these camps are for educational and vocational training. Human rights organizations call them internment camps; some governments speak of “genocide” against the Uyghurs.

Given the highly sensitive nature of the topic, it is naturally hard to ascertain what is really happening in these camps. One solution is to use satellite imagery to peek inside China’s tightly-controlled borders. Perhaps the best-researched investigation using this technique appeared on BuzzFeed News last year. The main article, and the four follow-ups, revealed the hitherto unknown scale of the internment camps, but were necessarily limited by their use of an extreme physical viewpoint — the view from space.

A Chinese travel blogger going by the name of Guanguan decided to investigate on the ground some of the camps located by BuzzFeed News, by driving to them. The remarkable 20-minute video summary of his travels provides unique views of the camps, which complement the satellite imagery used by BuzzFeed News. Specifically, they show in some detail side-views of the camps. This allows Guanguan to make reasonable guesses about which camps are indeed for education and training of some kind, and which ones are likely to be high-security internment camps.

The video is well-worth watching in its entirely, since it provides probably our best glimpse yet of the reality of China’s internment camps for Uyghurs and others (wisely, Guanguan seems to be out of China now). In fact, the quality of the video images is such that IPVM, which specializes in covering the world of video surveillance, was able to recognize several of the security cameras used at the internment camps. There are a few cameras from the Chinese company Dahua Technology, but the majority identified come from Hikvision. This, Techdirt readers will recall, is the company whose director of cybersecurity and privacy said that IoT devices with backdoors “can’t be used to spy on companies, individuals, or nations.” IPVM reported that Hikvision “declined to comment” on these latest findings. Its article noted that the visual evidence of Hikvision cameras being used in multiple internment camps, the result of an interesting unplanned, ad-hoc collaboration between Western journalists and a Chinese video blogger, is likely to make things even worse for a company already blacklisted by the US government.

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Comments on “An Unplanned, Ad-Hoc Collaboration Reveals The On-The-Ground Truth About China's Internment Camps For Uyghurs”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I really, really would like to believe that this would actually force a lot of the world to move beyond the performative bullshit like "boycotting the Olympics" or "freezing diplomatic relations". Australia still wants to fucking trade with China, the UK has already received SOME Chinese money to fund their documentaries and the US is basically addicted to Chinese manufacturing and trade.

Hell, this also validates the same report Reuters did with satelite imagery, but guess what? The fucking shills will scream "MANUFACTURING CONSENT" and "ADRIAN LENZ FUNDED THIS".

All while the world casually ignores Xinjiang because none of them have actual spines and are more than happy to spread their legs for an awful, abusive customer solely because he has the money.

Welcome to reality.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"All while the world casually ignores Xinjiang because none of them have actual spines and are more than happy to spread their legs for an awful, abusive customer solely because he has the money."

An old 18th-century german word for this is Realpolitik.

Back in 1950-1960 China planned this end game and spent half a century with their economy at rock bottom, being the joke of the world as they painstakingly transformed themselves into the manufacturing hub of the world.
And every US administration just stood blindly by while the larger part of their industrial base moved to China.

Now it’s too late. China’s prosperity flows through an american and european jugular. Any harm done to them instantly rebounds to the west in harsher measure.

And undoing this will in turn require western nations to eat the same penalty China accepted – tanking their economies and growth for decades on end while they rebuild and reeducate their manufacturing infrastructure and skilled labor pool.
That’s…not going to happen. Ever. No US administration after FDR has been able to plan for longer than four years in a row, and no such plan which harms the economy at home will survive four years in a row.

The US won every battle and then went on to lose the war because playing checkers won’t help you when the game the opposition plays is chess.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Hugo S Cunningham (profile) says:

Re: Re: You got your dates wrong

Chairman Mao kept China poor with famine (Great Leap Forward, 1958-1961) and chaos (Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976). China’s embrace of World markets and economic growth only started in 1980, under Deng Xiaoping.

The most serious wrong turn in US economic policy toward China came with a bi-partisan free trade agreement ("Permanent Normal Trade Relations") in year 2000. There were hopes that as China became richer, it would become more mellow and democratic like Taiwan and South Korea. There was no provision to reexamine PNTR if these hopes for mellowing failed to pan out. Taking power in 2012, Xi Jinping would turn China decisively back in an authoritarian direction.

Trade advocates became complacent after fears about the 1992 NAFTA agreement with Mexico largely failed to materialize. NAFTA made Mexico more prosperous at only marginal costs to the US. Key policy makers failed to consider that a labor pool several times ours (China) could have a much more serious impact than one only a third ours (Mexico).

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You got your dates wrong

"Chairman Mao kept China poor with famine (Great Leap Forward, 1958-1961) and chaos (Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976). China’s embrace of World markets and economic growth only started in 1980, under Deng Xiaoping."

Mao and his merry gang managed to plug progress for a long time…however, China beginning to kowtow to hyper-industrialization and manufacturing was one of Mao’s core ideas. The concept was formulated back then.

That Xiaoping was the first office holder not to be utterly incompetent at making that vision a reality doesn’t mean that’s the point where they laid the plan. Xiaoping’s contributed amendments to the policy made it a game changer – most notably shifting the focus from China being a world leader in manufacturing to China becoming the world manufacturing center. The whole "Golden Shield" project began at that time as well, to fend off the sudden influx of western culture concomitant with the globalized economy.

I’d say split the difference and put the concrete emergence of the chinese plan of world domination at 1970.

"The most serious wrong turn in US economic policy toward China came with a bi-partisan free trade agreement ("Permanent Normal Trade Relations") in year 2000."

I’ll assert the iceberg hit the titanic way before then. Around the 2000’s, western industry had already to large extent outsourced most of their supply chain.

"There were hopes that as China became richer, it would become more mellow and democratic like Taiwan and South Korea."

Such was the public screed. From a more cynical perspective any nation will always liberally extend in trade agreements any advantages which the opposition already possesses in reality.

From the pov of every corporate lobby in the US normalizing trade with China was something only foolish cold warriors in need of swift replacement would oppose. And so trade relations were normalized, because the US body politic is nothing if not a faithful dog to the holders of its leash.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Now while I think the US will take a lot less time than the 20-odd years you predicted to regain the manufacturing edge, that’s more a political will thing.

And no one wants to take the bite, and Trump only wanted to feed himself.

Maybe it is, indeed, time for the nukes to fly. I would like to reiterate, I am not a bloodthirsty war advocate, I am merely saying, that’s your only way out.

Biden and future administrations sure as fuck ain’t gonna get Southeast Asia back on THEIR sode in the forseeable future, or the rest of the world, EUROPE INCLUDED. China already sank its fangs into Europe through Italy accepting the BRI scam loans, if only because the EU fears Russia more than Xi.

Totalitarianism is here to stay. Welcome to the new world order. Don’t insult the CCP now.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Now while I think the US will take a lot less time than the 20-odd years you predicted to regain the manufacturing edge, that’s more a political will thing."

If anything 20 years is on the shorter side. US universities and colleges long ceased offering the needed education because industry offered few such jobs. So there are no teachers, few experts, no knowledge base, no interest. The first decade would have to be subsidized by state money paying universities to acquire and retain teachers – and guarantee well-paid jobs using those skills to lure talents to go for those courses rather than BMA’s, medicine or Law. Then you’d have to offer incentives to make corporations build new factories at home – ones they won’t be able to use until the production line stops churning out duds.

Before that new mechanism starts working properly and the costs start coming down this will be an expensive exercise. And the only one able to pay it will in the end be the taxpayer.

I can’t see any US administration surviving more than one term after trying to implement that and said policy will be dismantled by the next administration.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Maybe it is, indeed, time for the nukes to fly. I would like to reiterate, I am not a bloodthirsty war advocate, I am merely saying, that’s your only way out."

Global genocide isn’t the answer. If the nukes fly, we all die.

"Biden and future administrations sure as fuck ain’t gonna get Southeast Asia back on THEIR sode in the forseeable future, or the rest of the world, EUROPE INCLUDED."

If the US manages to produce someone capable of reversing this trend it will be a democrat who’s first horsewhipped his own party into ethical shape and then retired half of his own party and all of the current GOP to some remote island for being sociopathic asshats in proven bad faith visavi their citizenry.

"…if only because the EU fears Russia more than Xi."

Which is correct. China wants to be top dog and has millennia of history of treating their satellites well. Russia, otoh, are expansionist and don’t have a very good record of contributing to the wealth and prosperity of their allies.

From both the EU and US perspective, opposing China in any material way means accepting that your own country will tank. The economy will collapse or slow, pension funds will start hemorrhaging. If you don’t want your citizens to lose purchasing power and prosperity you’ll need to make nice with China…at least until you’ve come up with a long-term plan of wresting yourself free off the self-inflicted yoke.

I’m really torn about this. On the one hand I abhor china’s thin-skinned authoritarianism. On the other I have to admit that it was the shortsighted greed and ineptitude of our industry and political system which put us into this position in the first place. I’ll blame China for its atrocities against it’s dissidents. But I can’t blame them for the monumental fail we have to own ourselves.

me says:

Fully agree

One other issue with Winnie the Pooh land is their fishing mafia that violates global fishing waters, governments need to sink their boats without crew rescue and treat it like a war over globals resources like it actually is. Sink them, rinse and repeat. Screw their face saving whining, KEEP YOUR FISHING BOATS IN YOUR OWN DAMN TERRITORY….. and cry to someone who cares.

Anonymous Coward says:

How do these boycotting countries explain their economic and military support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine? It involves a similar number of people as Uyghurs under similar conditions. There is also the growing relationship between China and Israel, which should give us pause because the former appears to be drawing inspiration from the latter.

Of course Western powers do not boycott Israel, and have all but banned private sector boycotts among their citizens.

Colonization, cultural purification and apartheid are all of the same ilk. They’re just different phases of the same thing.

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