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China says Xinjiang has 'boarding schools', not 'concentration camps'

Published: March 12, 2019
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Source: Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is running boarding schools not concentration camps in the far western region of Xinjiang, its governor said on Tuesday, as the United States called conditions there “completely unacceptable”.

China has faced growing international opprobrium for what it says are vocational training centers in Xinjiang, a vast region bordering central Asia that is home to millions of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities.

Activists say there is a network of mass detention camps there holding more than a million people, part of a crackdown that Beijing says is needed to stem the threat of Islamist extremism.

The U.S. government has weighed sanctions against senior Chinese officials in Xinjiang, including on the Communist Party boss there, Chen Quanguo, who as a member of the powerful politburo is in the upper echelons of China’s leadership.

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Members of the Uighur Muslim community in Australia are renewing calls for action from the government amid reports that a number of Australian permanent residents are effectively trapped in China's Xinjiang province.The Guardian reported on Monday that at least 17 Australian residents are being held under house arrest, in prison or detained in so-called "re-education" centres in the far western region of Xinjiang, also referred to by some Uighurs as East Turkistan.

Clothes made by detained Chinese Muslims living in a mass detention camp have been traced to a US sportswear company, according to AP, which tracked "recent, ongoing shipments" from a privately-owned, state-sponsored "internment" sweatshop. The Associated Press has tracked recent, ongoing shipments from one such factory — Hetian Taida Apparel — inside an internment camp to Badger Sportswear, a leading supplier in Statesville, North Carolina. 

China’s restive far-western Xinjiang region has revised its legislation to allow local governments to "educate and transform" people influenced by extremism at “vocational training centres” – a term used by the government to describe a network of internment facilities known as "concentration re-education camps", the SCMP reported.

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