Scholar Adrian Zenz’s Newly Released “Xinjiang Police Files” Affirm Scale of Campaign and Beijing’s Role in Shaping It
Article published with ChinaFile, online magazine of the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations
From 2017, the Chinese government detained over one million Uyghurs in Xinjiang in so-called vocational centers. Previously, witnesses and leaked state documents outlined the securitised nature of these re-education facilities. Now, the “Xinjiang Police Files,” a major cache of classified files from internal Chinese police networks, provides an unprecedented inside view. Detailed security instructions for re-education camps describe special police units carrying military assault weapons and show guards handcuffing detainees.
The files include thousands of images of detained Uyghurs, along with candid speeches by leading officials. They show leaders’ impassioned demands to treat persons from ethnic groups like dangerous criminals, and to readily open fire to stop escapees. This article authenticates and contextualizes the Xinjiang Police Files within the growing field of published internal Xinjiang government documents. Scholars have argued that political paranoia is a common feature of atrocity crimes. Here, it is suggested that the pre-emptive internment of large numbers of ordinary citizens can be explained as a devolution into political paranoia that promotes exaggerated threat perceptions.