Why Is the NBA in Xinjiang?
In the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, Chinese authorities are holding roughly a million Muslims in what government propaganda creepily calls “free hospital treatment for the masses with sick thinking”—in other words, concentration camps. Because of the difficulties of visiting the camps, and because Beijing downplays their existence, firsthand information is sparse. However, satellite photos, innovative research on government procurement bids, and excellent reporting by foreign journalists prove their existence. Some inmates are tortured. Others are forced to sit for hours singing songs praising the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
For the region’s Muslims, most of whom belong to a Turkic-speaking minority known as Uighurs, the violations extend beyond imprisonment. Uighurs in Xinjiang can’t wear veils or “abnormal” beards. In late 2017, Chinese authorities reportedly ordered them to relinquish prayer mats and Qurans. It’s difficult for Uighurs to leave their homes without omnipresent police scanning their faces with dystopian accuracy, ostensibly as part of the hunt for “terrorists.” Police require them to install an app—whose name translates to “web cleansing”—on their phones that alerts local authorities to “dangerous” content. They can’t even own certain types of knives without registering them because of fears they will use them for violence. On Aug. 10, a member of a United Nations human rights panel condemned Beijing for turning the region into a “sort of ‘no rights zone.’ ”