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HomeGeopolitical CompassEast Asia“Your Family Will Suffer”: How China is Hacking, Surveilling, and Intimidating Uyghurs...

“Your Family Will Suffer”: How China is Hacking, Surveilling, and Intimidating Uyghurs in Liberal Democracies

Authors: Natalie Hall and Bradley Jardine

Affiliation: Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs; the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States and director of research at the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs

Organization/Publisher: Uyghur Human Rights Project

Date/Place: November 10, 2021 / Washington, DC, USA

Type of Literature: Report

Number of Pages: 65

Link: https://uhrp.org/report/your-family-will-suffer-how-china-is-hacking-surveilling-and-intimidating-uyghurs-in-liberal-democracies/

Keywords: China, Uyghur, Persecution, Human Rights, East Turkistan, Xinjiang, Oppression, Internment, Spying

Brief:

The long arm of any state that represses its people traverses boundaries and domains in order to target and silence its critics who somehow find a way out of the physical borders of that country. With revolutionary advancements in science and technology, China’s long-arm state has been following and persecuting ethnic Uyghurs all across the globe for one simple reason: they expose China’s mass internment of Uyghurs who live in East Turkestan (which Beijing calls Xinjiang). This report traces and interviews Uyghur diaspora members to determine how China has been following and harming them. The report finds that China started following Uyghurs back in 2002. One of the most significant concerns among the diaspora is Uyghur digital insecurity. The authors note: “Chinese transnational repression may be one driving factor pushing the Uyghur diaspora toward political activism.” It points to a variety of tools used by China to coerce the Uyghurs, including freezing and seizing their assets, canceling passports and forcing them to return to China, launching cyber-attacks to collect personal data, intimidation, active surveillance and threats, recruitment as informants,  smear campaigns and use of proxies. The report draws attention to the deep security state laced with unprecedented advanced technologies where the facial recognition tools being used by China can even identify whether a person is ethnic Uyghur. “Crucially, many of the emerging technologies used to create this surveillance state are being sold to China by Western actors,” it adds. The report recommends that safe havens for Uyghurs should be strengthened in addition to monitoring digital threats to members of the persecuted community. The authors suggest raising the cost for China in its oppression of the Uyghurs. “The Chinese government’s methods of transnational repression erode legal norms and defy the constitutional rights of many Uyghurs living in liberal democracies, who are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest,” the report observes.

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-resident Research Associate

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