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China Reports 456,000 Newly Hired Uyghurs in Xinjiang This Year, According to Radio Free Asia

China claims that 456,000 individuals were newly employed in its far-western Xinjiang region during the first 10 months of the year, indicating that Beijing was effectively promoting economic development to create a “happy and harmonious” Uyghur society.

Authorities are working towards achieving “full employment” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, or XUAR, as an essential economic strategy to combat poverty, as reported by the Chinese-controlled Tengritagh Network on Dec. 25.

The report stated, “Employment signifies a stable source of income, and a stable source of income paves the way for the desire to consume,” and mentioned that 456,000 people have been added to the workforce.

However, Uyghur experts and activists argue that many of the jobs are tantamount to forced labor, involving people who have been detained in a vast network of “re-education” camps where their human rights are routinely violated.

According to Ilshat Hesen Kokbore, the head of the Chinese Affairs Committee of the World Uyghur Congress based in Washington, authorities are using forced labor tactics to monitor individuals in various sectors, subjecting them to Chinese surveillance and control throughout their workday, which ultimately aims to eradicate the Uyghur nation.

Women apply makeup to a tourist before dressing her in traditional Uyghur attire in the Old Kashgar tourist area in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, July 20, 2023. (Pedro Pardo/AFP)

It is asserted that individuals compelled to work in factories in Xinjiang or in Chinese provinces are not acting voluntarily, and that local authorities use coercive measures, with many receiving only a fraction of regular wages, which is internationally recognized as forced labor.

Experts are of the opinion that China is in dire need of Uyghurs to fill these jobs, which are lower in technical complexity and are less favored by Chinese workers.

Further details about the origins and prevalence of forced labor in the Uyghur region were highlighted by Adrian Zenz, director of China Studies at the U.S.-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and an expert on the Xinjiang region.

Zenz pointed out two crucial factors related to the presence of forced labor in the region, signaling a multi-faceted approach towards forced labor in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has been accused of promoting forced labor in Xinjiang to eradicate absolute poverty and maintain social stability, and enforcing coercive military-style training and indoctrination to maintain control over Uyghur communities.

Zenz also highlighted the forced separation of families and the uprooting of communities to establish secure factory compounds, further emphasizing the intrusive nature of the government in this scheme.

Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster

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