The Xinjiang Papers

Hundreds of pages of internal documents leaked . . . 

On Saturday, The New York Times published the “Xinjiang Papers,” 403 pages of internal speeches and other internal Chinese government documents that were leaked to the press. The papers shed new light on China’s clampdown on Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region. They also reveal how the objectives of top officials, including President Xi Jinping, to curb terrorist and separatist threats led to an indoctrination campaign and the creation of detention camps in Xinjiang. The documents also show that the Chinese leadership was fully aware of the dire consequences such actions would have for the country’s Muslim minorities.

China reacts . . .

On Monday, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized The New York Times, alleging the paper clumsily interpreted a patchwork of unrelated documents and ignored the campaign's success, adding that Xinjiang had become a model for counter-terrorism efforts. Reporting in recent months has illustrated how Beijing was trying to conceal its actions in Xinjiang. The Chinese Communist Party has always claimed that its camps were intended for vocational training and that they were not infringing on Uighurs’ human rights. The leaked documents clearly contradict those claims.

Who will speak up for Xinjiang?

Even prior to the document leak, it had become difficult for members of the international community to ignore the situation in Xinjiang. The information released through the Times will make it even more difficult. So far, statements from leaders have been lackluster. For example, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, said the allegations were disturbing, and called for China to end the arbitrary detentions. In Canada, with a new cabinet scheduled to be announced on Wednesday, it will be interesting to see how the next Minister of Foreign Affairs (if Chrystia Freeland is appointed to another portfolio) will address the Xinjiang situation and the overall impasse in Canada’s relations with China.