So this article – forget where I saw it – is a recipe for a 21st century ethnic cleansing re-education repression operation which appears to be extremely successful at changing behavior on the ground.
* standard internment/re-education camps
* heavy police presence
* complete 24/7 video surveillance, backed up by facial recognition systems.
* required state surveillance app to be installed on your phone.
* “big data” AI (presumably using location, contacts, messages, and so on) is used to predict who is most likely to be disloyal.
* “disloyal” candidates receive in-home visits from the state; if prohibited materials are found, or if the answers aren’t loyal enough, you are sent off to a camp.
* if you can’t memorize a party speech rapidly enough, you’re sent off to a camp.
* if your child reports you for doing something disloyal, you are sent off to a camp.
* if you stop using your phone, you’re sent off to a camp
* if you delete the state surveilance app on your phone, you’re sent off to a camp
* if your relative overseas complains about the situation, you – and your relatives – are sent off to a camp
* if you are working in another part of China, you are recalled – and sent off to a camp.
* if you are an expat, and you return to China, you are sent off to a camp.
* and of course if the state surveillance app sees evidence of prohibited material on your phone, you are sent off to a camp.
The author concludes with:
The near-complete eradication of privacy and the massive scale of internment appears to be changing Uighurs’ behavior. Ten years ago, bans on the Uighur language in schools, popular novels (often printed by government-run presses), and private prayers and rituals seemed unenforceable. Local teachers ignored rules about language use, banned books were easy to find in private bookstores, and purportedly illegal rituals like Sufi dance remained common. Today Uighurs rush to burn their own books and strain to guess what will make their home visitors view them as loyal, out of fear that they will join the many family members and friends whom they have personally seen disappear over the last 18 months.
The re-education camps also cast their shadows beyond Xinjiang and even China’s borders. Xinjiang security personnel have been calling Uighurs working in the rest of China back to their hometowns, where, more often than not, they disappear. Police track the activities of Uighurs from their locales even when they reside abroad, demanding photographic evidence of their presence at universities or offices. Some are commanded to return home to certain detention. Uighurs comply out of fear for their families. Some who have spoken out about the situation in their homeland have seen large numbers of relatives disappear. Depression is rampant among Uighur exiles. All known cases of Uighurs returning to China in the last year have resulted in the returnee’s disappearance. Across the world, Uighurs with expiring passports or visas are currently weighing whether to claim asylum in foreign lands and never see their families again, or to face near-certain internment upon their return to Xinjiang.
My conclusion: yes, this is unfortunate for the Uighurs, but to me the terrifying thing is, this overall approach really seems to work, where the other approaches failed. The key enabler: phones, and AI. I’m sure governments everywhere are watching, and learning. Stuff that works tends to get re-used, and improved upon.
Facebook is your friend. So is google. So is your phone.
Or maybe not.