China Cables: Secret Muslim Persecution Exposed

The China Cables is the name the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has given to leaked documents exposing China’s secret persecution of Muslims know as Uyghurs. Find out the latest on this cultural genocide.

In an earlier story, we covered suspicions that China is holding more than a million Muslims, mostly Uyghurs, in secret detention camps. The camps are in the Xinjiang region, and staff brainwash and torture inmates while forcing them to renounce their religion and culture.  

Intelligence indicated that China is holding about one in ten Uyghurs in the detention centres. The internment of the Uyghurs has become the largest internment of a minority group since the Second World War.    


As of yesterday, these accusations are not suspicions anymore. A chain of exiled Uyghurs obtained what intelligence officials call a “telegram” and four bulletins from China’s Integrated Joint Operation Platform (IJOP).  

The exiles leaked the documents to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). All of the cables bear the signature of Zhu Hailun, Xinjiang’s security chief and deputy leader of the Communist party. The ICIJ has dubbed them the China Cables. Experts have verified that the documents are authentic. 

The telegram is a 2017 issued procedure manual for the camps. Xinjiang’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission released it. They’re in charge of security infrastructure for the Chinese Communist Party. The bulletins came from something called the “Forward Command for the Strike Hard Assault Battle” Committee, who are part of the campaign against the Muslim population.


The China Cables confirm what we told you back in August. China systematically identifies and targets Uyghurs and other Muslims. It then apprehends them with no due process and imprisons them in more than 1,000 detention centres.  

IJOP is the data repository China’s intelligence services use. They also use IJOP for something they call “predictive policing.” IJOP gathers personal data about individuals without their knowledge or consent.  

One way they find Uyghurs is to monitor users of the Muslim mobile file-sharing application Zapya, which more than 1.8 million Uighurs have downloaded in Xinjiang. The China Cables reveal that the Chinese have electronic surveillance down to a science. Reportedly, the Chinese government’s goal for its digital systems is to monitor and gauge everything a person believes, says or does, inside or outside China.


The information-gathering in the China Cables is supposedly part of a program to ferret out Islamic extremism. Algorithms single out anyone deemed to be threatening or suspicious. Authorities then pick up those individuals pre-emptively, before they have done anything wrong.

The real goal is ethnic cleansing and has nothing to do with security. Most Chinese belong to the Han ethnic group and speak Mandarin. The Chinese government wants to assimilate all of its citizens into one Han nationalist movement.  

Ethnic identities, cultures or religions that challenge the people’s loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party must be stamped out. Muslims pose one of the more stubborn obstacles to accomplishing this assimilation, so they have become the prime target of oppression.


The official (and quite Orwellian) name used in the China Cables for the detention camps is “Vocational Education and Training Centers.” Staff at these centres force inmates to learn Mandarin. Realizing that language and culture go hand in hand, Chinese authorities have made this the camps’ top priority.

Inmates must also abandon any “extremist” ideas, such as religions. They are subjected to indoctrination in the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda every day.   

Past inmates have told human rights defenders that they were tortured and abused sexually. The “vocational” part in the name of the camps involves being trained to work in various Chinese sweatshops. When camp staff are through with teaching them, former inmates end up doing slave labour in these factories.


Also, in the China Cables is a case record about one inmate. A Muslim man got ten years in jail for explaining Islam to his co-workers. One of his so-called infractions was discouraging them from swearing or looking at porn.

Readers might understandably expect that the Chinese government would now come clean about this cultural genocide program since the cat is finally out of the bag. Sadly, that’s not what’s happening.

Instead, the Chinese government is doubling down on previous denials. They called the China Cables “pure fabrication and fake news.” (Interesting choice of words!) They go on to say, “Since the measures have been taken, there’s no single terrorist incident in the past three years. Xinjiang again turns into a prosperous, beautiful and peaceful region.” 


Then, they dare to claim that, “The preventative measures have nothing to do with the eradication of religious groups. Religious freedom is fully respected in Xinjiang.”  

That’s a bald-faced lie. As we told you in our previous story, Xinjiang authorities barely tolerate religion. Government officials vet every cleric and children are not even allowed to set foot inside a mosque. 

Lisa Tassi is Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for East Asia. She said in a written statement, “China’s continued denial of the existence of detention centres in Xinjiang grows ever more futile in the face of ever-mounting evidence. This latest leak is yet further proof of its systematic persecution of ethnic and religious minorities in China on a sickeningly vast scale.”


Amnesty International repeated its calls for China to “provide independent human rights monitors immediate and unfettered access to Xinjiang.” Readers can help. They accept donations here.  

The China Cables are one of those leaks that represent a turning point in an investigation. We’ve already learned all we need to know from them to call for an independent inquiry. No doubt, we’ll learn even more about the “sickeningly vast scale” of China’s Muslims from human rights monitors.

We always have more to learn if we dare to know.

Learn more:

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Amnesty International
Human Rights Call to Action From UN Chief
Canada’s Genocide
China’s Secret Muslim Persecution
Myanmar Genocide Facing World Court
Justice Denied by “Lost” File


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