In truth, we know far more about these camps, and about the accompanying repression, than anyone in 1933 knew about the famine in Ukraine. They have been extensively described in the world’s media, including the New York Times and The Post . Government bodies have studied them, too. Canada’s Parliament recently produced an account of the suppression of the Uighurs that is far more comprehensive than anything Jones ever wrote. The report is one of many to describe the massive surveillance program that China has imposed in Xinjiang, using not only old-fashioned informers and police checkpoints, but artificial intelligence, phone spyware and biometric data. Every tool that a future, larger totalitarian state may use to control citizens is currently being tested in Xinjiang.
Under “terrorist” legislation in Xinjiang, anyone can be arrested for anything — for expressing an allegiance to Uighur culture, for example, or for reading the Koran. Once inside the “re-education” camps, arrestees are forced to speak in Mandarin Chinese and made to recite praises of the Communist Party. Those who break the rules receive punishments no different from those meted out to prisoners in the Soviet Gulag: “They put me in a small solitary confinement cell,” said one former prisoner cited in the Canadian report, “in a space of about two by two meters. I was not given any food or drink, my hands were handcuffed in the back, and I had to stand for 24 hours without sleep.”