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China’s Uighur Muslims, Under Pressure at Home and Abroad

A Sinica Podast

Associated Press (AP) reporter Gerry Shih was hard at work in 2017 writing a remarkable series of articles on China’s Uighur Muslim minority. By traveling not just to China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where 10 to 15 million Uighurs live, but also to Syria, where some have fled and taken up arms with militant groups, he sought to answer some of the most politicized and consequential questions about the ethnic group, including:

  • How long and to what extent have authorities in Xinjiang forced Uighurs into indoctrination camps?
  • How long and to what extent have they compelled residents to give DNA samples to the state?
  • What role has Chen Quanguo 陈全国 had in building Xinjiang’s new digital police state, and will he succeed in subjugating separatist thought?
  • Are China’s Uighurs involved in global jihadi terrorism? Where and how do they get recruited, and how does China try to influence Uighurs overseas?

Shih’s four articles were published in December:

They are part of a larger AP series titled “China’s Uighurs on Edge,” comprising 12 stories that seek “to flesh out the profile of a people whose voices have largely been silenced or gone unheard under the blanket of security in the region.” They also were published around the same time that the Wall Street Journal and BuzzFeed published similarly alarming stories about the police state in Xinjiang.

For more on Muslims in China, check out a previous Sinica Podcast titled “Islamophobia in China Explained,” and an article on SupChina that seeks to answer the question “Where Does Chinese Islamophobia Come From?