UHRP hails long-awaited sanctions on China’s Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps

Five Things to Know About

For immediate release
August 3, 2020 5:05 pm EDT
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project
+1 (703) 217-7266, +1 (646) 906-7722

UHRP has long called for international sanctions on the perpetrators of atrocities in East Turkistan, and welcomes the first-ever human rights sanctions on China’s Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). New U.S. Global Magnitsky sanctions mean that the XPCC, at last, faces consequences for carrying out well-documented gross human rights violations. The Treasury Department’s July 31 announcement cites the XPCC’s responsibility for “mass arbitrary detention and severe physical abuse, among other serious abuses targeting Uyghurs” and others.

“The XPCC is a central instrument of the Chinese government’s repression of Uyghurs. Brutality is baked into its mission,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. “For decades, it has had a leading role in the control and exploitation of East Turkistan, including the current campaign of genocidal crimes. Sanctions are overdue.”

In response to the sanctions, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs today dipped into its standard disinformation toolbox. Spokesman Wang Wenbin declared that accusations of human rights crimes by the XPCC are “total rumors and slander.” Relying on the whitewashing tactics used to deflect criticism of government crimes against Uyghurs, he repeated the longstanding line that the XPCC’s actions are justified by its mission of suppressing purported “terrorist, separatist, and religious extremist forces” in the Uyghur Region.

As UHRP documented in a new report released last week, “The Happiest Muslims in the World”: Disinformation, Propaganda and the Uyghur Crisis, the Chinese government has mounted a vast operation of denial and cover-up, using extreme secrecy and an aggressive propaganda effort to promote a counter-narrative justifying its atrocities in East Turkistan.

The new sanctions rightly target two Communist Party officials responsible for ordering the XPCC’s human rights crimes: Sun Jinlong, a former XPCC Political Commissar and Peng Jiarui, the XPCC Deputy Party Secretary and Commander. UHRP calls for rigorous efforts to ensure that the sanctions are effectively enforced, and urges other nations to take similar actions.

The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, also known as the bingtuan, is a paramilitary organization that constitutes a parallel government in the region, with its own courts and prison system. It has had a central role in operating labor camps and prisons in the region for the past seven decades. The XPCC is also central to exports from the region. XPCC-controlled commercial enterprises exported 43 million dollars worth of goods directly to the U.S. in 2018, and it produces a third of China’s cotton. As UHRP wrote in its 2018 report The Bingtuan: China’s Paramilitary Colonizing Force in East Turkistan, it “represents one of the foremost institutions of Han dominance, and marginalization of Uyghurs and other indigenous ethnic groups, in East Turkistan.”