China’s mass detention of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities living in its western region of Xinjiang has sparked alarm and condemnation across the world. Now, for the first time, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ China Cables investigation has revealed classified Chinese government directives that provided operational plans for the internment camps and orders for carrying out mass detentions guided by sweeping data collection and artificial intelligence.
To better explain China’s actions in Xinjiang and the findings of the China Cables, we answer some key questions about who is involved, the crackdown’s origins, and the significance of the secret documents.
Who are the Uighurs?
The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group whose members are predominantly Muslim. Uighurs have a distinct culture and history, including the declaration of two short-lived independent republics, both known as East Turkestan, in the first half of the 20th century.