Xinjiang: What China shows world vs. what former detainee describes

Ethnic Uighurs practice calligraphy at the Artux Vocational Skill Education Training Service Center in China's Xinjiang region. Beijing calls such facilities "re-education centers," but Western countries label them as “internment camps.” (Photo by Shosuke Kato)

SHOSUKE KATO, Nikkei staff writer, and KENJI KAWASE, Nikkei Asian Review chief business news correspondent
AUGUST 10, 2019 11:01 JST

URUMQI/KASHGAR, China/TOKYO -- As pressure mounts on China from Western democracies that have accused it of locking up over a million ethnic Uighurs in the country's Xinjiang region, Beijing is intensifying a campaign to justify its policy.

On the 10th anniversary of the July 2009 uprising by Muslim ethnic minority Uighurs in the region's capital, Urumqi, China published a white paper and hosted news conferences to convey its views. It also allowed a group of journalists from foreign media, including Nikkei and some Western news organizations, to visit the region on a guided press tour.

The centerpiece of the mid-July tour was visits to what China calls "re-education centers" for the Uighurs, but what the West describes as "internment camps."

At the Shule County Vocational Skill Education Training Center, on the outskirts of Kashgar, the largest city in western Xinjiang, slogans displayed inside the building include "Patriotism," "Respect for Work" and "Wealth and Strength."