Policy report

Since the mass internment of Uyghurs and other indigenous groups in China was first reported in 2017, there is now a rich body of literature documenting recent human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. However, there is little knowledge of the actual perpetrators inside China’s vast and opaque party-state system, and responsibility is often broadly attributed to the Chinese Communist Party.

For accountability, it is necessary to investigate how China’s campaign against the Uyghurs has been implemented and which offices and individuals have played a leading part. The current knowledge gap has exposed international companies and organisations to inadvertent engagement with Chinese officials who have facilitated the atrocities in Xinjiang. It has also prevented foreign governments from making targeted policy responses.

This project maps and analyses the governance mechanisms employed by the Chinese party-state in Xinjiang from 2014 to 2021 within the context of the region’s ongoing human rights crisis. To that end, the authors have located and scrutinised thousands of Chinese-language sources, including leaked police records and government budget documents never before published. This archive of sources is made publicly available for the use of others.

For policy-makers, this report will provide an evidence base to inform policy responses including possible sanctions. For the general public and anyone whose interests are linked to Xinjiang and China more broadly, this project can inform risk analysis and ethical considerations.

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Policy Brief Report No.51/2021