Australian cyber experts in their recent report have revealed that Chinese tech giants are working closely with the Communist Party to censor and surveil Uighur Muslims in China’s western region of Xinjiang.
According to the details, Chinese tech giants including ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, and Huawei Technologies are working closely with the Communist Party to censor and surveil Uighur Muslims in China’s western region of Xinjiang.
The revelations were made by the experts at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre.
They concluded that many Chinese tech companies “are engaged in deeply unethical behavior in Xinjiang, where their work directly supports and enables mass human rights abuses.”
New evidence of links between the security apparatus and China’s biggest tech companies come just days after TikTok shut down the account of an American teenager who’d sought to highlight China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang during what began as a makeup video.
“Some of these companies lead the world in cutting-edge technology development, particularly in the AI and surveillance sectors,” Fergus Ryan, Danielle Cave and Vicky Xiuzhong Xu write in the report.
“But this technology development is focused on servicing authoritarian needs, and as these companies go global (an expansion often funded by [Chinese] loans and aid) this technology is going global as well.”
This should give Western policymakers pause, they said.
Many Western policymakers have become increasingly concerned about the potentially nefarious capabilities of Chinese technology.
This is most evident in the western region of Xinjiang, where at least a million Muslims have been detained in re-education camps designed to wring their culture and religion from them and make them assimilate with the country’s Han majority.
Testimony from numerous people to have escaped China and troves of leaked documents all show that the camps are not the vocational training centers that the Chinese government says they are.
ByteDance did not respond to request for comment on the report’s findings Thursday afternoon.
The report said the company has been “collaborating” with the Chinese government to disseminate its propaganda about Xinjiang.
In the case of Huawei, which is locked in an existential battle with the Trump administration, there is evidence of extensive and direct work with Chinese security organs in Xinjiang, including helping authorities there with the “digitization requirements” of public security projects.
“Together with the Public Security Bureau, Huawei will unlock a new era of smart policing and help build a safer, smarter society,” a Xinjiang government website quoted one Huawei director as saying last year.
When the Xinjiang Public Security Department and Huawei signed the agreement to establish an “intelligent security industry” innovation lab in the regional capital of Urumqi last year, a local official said Huawei had been supplying “reliable technical support” for the department, according to the report.
Huawei has also participated in a program called “Safe Xinjiang,” which the ASPI experts said was “code for a police surveillance system.”
The tech giant reportedly built the police surveillance apparatus in Karamay and Kashgar prefectures, which have become a central part of the ubiquitous monitoring system in Xinjiang.