China's use of AI in Xinjiang is 'future of oppression': US envoy

RYO NAKAMURA, Nikkei staff writer
AUGUST 10, 2019 23:07 JST

WASHINGTON -- Advanced surveillance technology aided by artificial intelligence and massive DNA data will be the "future of oppression" by police states, Sam Brownback, the U.S. envoy in charge of international religious freedom, warned in an interview with Nikkei.

Denouncing Beijing's use of such technologies in the crackdown of Uighurs, a Muslim minority in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Brownback called the situation "tragic and unprecedented in modern times."

Brownback, a former senator and Kansas governor, was appointed to the post in February 2018 by President Donald Trump. While Trump's White House is focused on pressuring China on trade, Brownback signaled that the U.S. does not plan to back down on human rights issues either. Beijing considers any accusation of human rights abuses by the West as a domestic meddling. 

"You've got a high-tech system being used to monitor people, where you've done massive data collection of DNA samples of the entire population, where you implement a 'social credit score' system to prohibit people from getting certain places," Brownback said, referring to Beijing's controversial social experiment where citizens earn or lose points for things like online posts and volunteerism.